This is a rewarding journey that can be appreciated alone, in the company of friends or even on a bike. The Via Francigena is more than an experience; it is a life lesson that leads to the discovery of nature’s splendour. The Senese, at the foot of Mount Amiata, allows travellers the opportunity to reflect and admire their surroundings.
A new route begins from San Quirico d’Orcia that climbs and descends along the hills until the small-fortified town of Vignoni. The path then drops, heading towards the famous thermal baths of Bagni Vignoni, which reached major importance during the Renaissance when Lorenzo the Magnificent was a frequent guest.
The route continues along the ancient Via Cassia that winds up and down through the Orcia and Paglia river valleys. Voyagers then pass through le Briccole, the hospital and the refreshment station mentioned by Sigerico in Abricula.
Curious travellers can opt for a variation of the traditional pilgrimage route along the Via Francigena (reachable by Via Cassia, taking a right towards Monte Amiata) that climbs upwards from the valley following the Pagliola stream until the Abbey, Abbazia di Abbadia San Salvatore. During the Middle Ages, the monastery had hotels and hospitals throughout the Val di Paglia and was an important stopping point for travellers. Even today, there is a reception desk and information centre for travellers in the historic centre’s small Servadio Theatre.
From this last location, the Via Francigena merges with the Via Cassia as it moves towards Rome, the next stop.
Where to Eat
The route is located in the slopes of Monte Amiata, considered the green lungs of Tuscany. The treasures of the area include chestnuts that are commonly used in the ancient recipes for polenta, castagnaccio and fiandulone (traditional forest bread).
Another local delicacy found in the woods of Amiata is its mushrooms, the main ingredient in preparing soups, pasta, crostini and other typical dishes.
Finally, visitors should also try the beans of Monte Amiata (a unique variety from the territory), ricciolina (circular sweets from Abbadia San Salvatore with a dry coating and warm, moist insides. Made with chocolate and almonds) and pici (a type of homemade spaghetti that goes well with a meat or vegetable sauce).