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Via Francigena Leg 29: Altopascio to San Miniato

From Altopascio to San Miniato, passing through the Medici Bridge of Cappiano

This leg is 29 km long and begins in Altopascio; it takes less than 6 hours to complete. On the initial section of the path, in Galleno, trekkers walk on the ancient dirt road of the Via Francigena. After crossing the hills of Cerbaie, wild and deserted, you head for the Ponte a Cappiano, with its recently restored Medici bridge.

From here, along the banks of the Usciana canal, you can cross the ancient swamp that has been drained and go up to the center of Fucecchio. After crossing the Arno, you will come to San Miniato, the once powerful and perfectly maintained medieval town.

Water and refreshments are available in
Chimenti, Galleno, Ponte a Cappiano, and Fucecchio.
Total length (km): 29.53
Accessibilityon foot or with mountain bike
Time on foot (h: min): 6
Climb in ascent (m): 283
Climb in descent (m): 173
Maximum altitude (m): 130
Difficultyeasy
Paved roads: 44%
Unpaved roads and driveways: 53%
Mule-tracks and trails3%
Cyclability: 100%
How to get to the departure pointFlorence-Viareggio railway lineAltopascio
 station

SIGHTS

Fucecchio - Pastoral activities at the end of the twelfth century is an element closely related to the birth of the town. Must sees include the Abbey of San Salvatore di Fucecchio, rebuilt after 1106 in the current location. The Abbey was founded by the Cadolingi Counts, who transformed the church that had existed since the tenth century to allow the Arno river crossing of the Via Romea.

Castelfranco di Sotto and Orentano - Located in the Cerbaie hills, the residential area of Galleno corresponds to the Grasse Geline mentioned by Filippo Augusto of France during his return from the third crusade (1191). It was here in the 11th century that a court of the Cadolingi counts was contested by the bishop of Lucca and the hospital of Altopascio with the goal of certifying their presence on the important itinerary. Since at least 1418, the border between the cities of Castelfranco and Fucecchio runs along the moat of the Galleno castle and the late medieval road that was a reconstruction of an ancient portion of the Via Francigena crossed by the French king. The conservation of the road is due to the removal of traffic following the Via Regia Traversa of Valdinievole in the 18th century. Here you can visit the Archaeological Museum of Castelfranco and Orentano.

San Miniato - The Rocca di San Miniato was added by the Svevi emperors in the 11th century in order to maintain their strategic control of the Via Francigena. The Rocca, or fortress, completed at the beginning of the 1200s, is the most important bulwark built by Frederick II, who instituted a fixed garrison where he himself stayed many times. From the top of the fortress—which now boasts powerful telescopes—visitors can see the point where the Via Francigena meets the Roman road that runs from Pisa to Florence. You can also glimpse the San Genesio archaeological site (located in the communal territory of San Miniato), indicated by numerous medieval travelers as a stopping point on the Francigena. Be sure to check out the exhibit of the archaeological ruins at the Torre degli Stipendiari, on via Conti.
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Francigena and Spiritual Routes