The last major section of the Via Francigena leads you from Siena through the southern part of Tuscany and Latium into the ‘eternal’ city of Rome. This historical pilgrim route actually starts in England, winds through France, traverses Switzerland and meanders down into Italy — although we're concentrating on the final leg here. On this section, every step you take is on historical ground: This part of the Via Francigena leads you along the old Roman street Via Cassia, a road that is in parts still lined with the very same stones the Romans would have walked on all those years ago. I
The landscape is characterized by soft hills, olive groves, hazelnut plantations, meadows and light deciduous forests. The volcanic activity that shaped the landscape makes itself known through the hot springs and crater lakes that litter the path. Aside from being a part of the pilgrim route, the scenic little towns are also a great reason to walk the path, with beautiful, old architecture and an excitingly medieval flair.
The path described here is about 155 miles (250 kilometers) long and can be walked in around 12 days. The route is mostly flat with some mild undulation. The starting and end point of each stage has been strategically planned in one of the picturesque towns, allowing you to add some authentic Italian charm to both ends of your adventure each day. If you’re short on time or want to see more of the landscape close to the Via Francigena, consider going by bike. The Via Francigena cycle path follows alongside the footpath for much of the way, making it an ideal alternative to hiking.
The starting point for most pilgrims and hikers who walk the last section of the Via Francigena from Siena to Rome is the mighty Cathedral of Siena - the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta. Vis-a-vis from the main entrance of the cathedral, you will find the Santa Maria della Scala complex, which today houses a museum and used to be a pilgrims' hostel.In the bookshop of the museum complex (entrance to the Palazzo Squarcialupi) pilgrim passes are issued, which officially identify you as a pilgrim. This will help you integrate into the pilgrimage infrastructure on the Via Francigena - including access to the pilgrim's hostels on the way to Rome. From the cathedral you walk through the old town a few streets to the huge Piazza del Campo, the unmissable central square of Siena. From there, take the Via di Pantaneto or the Via Roma south.The Porta Romana, the former city gate of Siena, marks the southern end of the city. It will take a while for you to leave the metropolitan area of Siena behind. After passing the village of Isola d'Arbia, you will experience pure Tuscany: more than half of the way ahead of you, you will move between fields and gently rolling hills. The landscape away from the river valleys becomes quickly barren, especially from midsummer. You are now in the Crete Senesi, a landscape characterized by barren clay soils and natural erosion. Over long distances, your path leads along a small railway line towards the stage destination Ponte d'Arbia.
The path from Ponte d'Arbia to San Quirico d'Orcia is determined especially on the first few kilometers of the Crete Senesi countryside, and at the end of the stage you are already in the vast Val d'Orcia river valley. Relatively bare, gently rolling hills alternate with green river valleys.On dirt roads and small side streets, which are sometimes lined with alleys, it goes between unbewaldeten hills steadily south. By the time you reach San Quirico d'Orcia, the landscape, isolated farmhouses and quaint little villages are your main companions. The stage destination San Quirico d'Orcia is a picturesque little town with a high density of historical sights, even in Italian comparison.
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The path from the picturesque village of San Quirico d'Orcia to Radicofani is dominated by the landscape of the Val d'Orcia. The river Orcia, from which this very extensive river valley has its name, you cross a few kilometers behind San Quirico d'Orcia at the historic spa town of Bagno Vignoni.This more than 30 km long stage along hills and small rivers follows the Via Cassia, the ancient Roman road from Rome to Tuscany. Thus, the path is also based on today's "Via Cassia", the Italian state road SS 2, but you cross only a few times. The stage destination Radicofani is located at 780 meters above sea level, the slight ascent begins about eight kilometers from this picturesque place.
It goes down again. From the high-altitude Radicofani you go on leisurely hiking trails along hills with truly magnificent views further south. For many hikers, the first few kilometers to Radicofani are among the most beautiful of the entire southern Via Francigena. After about ten kilometers, you arrive at the small town of Ponte a Rigo - here the path divides into two variants.Do you go the "classic", shorter version, your way now follows with some exceptions of the new Via Cassia, the Italian SS2 state road to the stage destination Acquapendente. Often there are field or hiking trails next to or slightly off the road, a few kilometers you go on this stage but also on asphalt. Shortly before the village of Centeno you leave Tuscany and enter the Lazio region. From Centeno it is still a good eight kilometers to the stage destination Acquapendente.
The Lazio region is in front of you! From the town of Acquapendente, it is about two and a half kilometers on asphalt along the new Via Cassia and the Strada Torre Alfina to the southeast until you turn right after a factory to the south. To your left and right you will find extensive meadows and fields.After about 10 kilometers you will reach the Via Cassia (SS 2), from where it is only a good one kilometer to the town of San Lorenzo Nuovo, the highest point of this stage - where you will also see Lake Bolsena for the first time. From here it goes on small roads and side roads through forests, fields and gardens with olive trees down to Bolsena and the lake.
This stage takes you a few hundred meters from the lake along the eastern shore from Bolsena to Montefiascone. The path runs in hilly ups and downs through fields, olive groves, and sparse forests and always offers beautiful views of Lake Bolsena.After about twelve kilometers (and after a short stretch on the new Via Cassia), turn left and walk the last six kilometers through trails and back roads to the picturesque town of Montefiascone, the stage destination.
In this section of the Via Francigena, you can easily start on truly historic ground. From Montefiascone it goes the first six kilometers slightly downhill and that partly on the ancient pavement of the Roman road Via Cassia. Apart from a small ascent of which you have a good panoramic view of meadows and fields, it is mainly on field and hiking trails relatively flat through the countryside of Lazio.For a break, after about half of the route, the hot springs and shallow pools of Bagnaccio are recommended. Then it is still a good seven kilometers to the center of the provincial capital Viterbo, the stage destination.
From the San Lorenzo Cathedral, the path heads west for three kilometers, before turning left in the area in front of Terme del Papi for a few hundred meters. This stage of the Via Francigena is relatively flat in the first half, slightly hilly in the second and is dominated by fields, tree plantations, fields and farmsteads. Several times in the first half you cross the two-lane Strada Stadale 675 Umbro-Laziale (SS 675) or walk a good mile next to it.After about one kilometer next to the SS 675, you will see the driveway to the new Via Cassia (SS 2) in the direction of Vetralla. About three hundred meters away, away from your path, lies the Terme di San Sisto. Since there are relatively few scenic features or gastronomic offers on this stage, the thermal spa offers a good opportunity for rest before continuing on to Vetralla.
After starting in Vetralla, the path leads you first between fields and settlements about 3.5 kilometers up to the edge of the nature reserve Lago di Vico. Before the edge of the forest, turn right and a very nice hiking trail leads you along the edge of the forest and then through impressive deciduous forests a few kilometers further southeast. The highest point of this stage you reach shortly before you leave the forest. From there it continues between hazelnut plantations and on paths lined with huge oak trees.About half a kilometer after crossing the new Via Cassia (SS 2), the trail takes you past the ruined monastery of Torre d'Orlando and later on to an Etruscan tomb. About seven kilometers before the stage destination Sutri you walk through the extremely picturesque village of Capranica, which is ideal for a short or longer break. The last few kilometers down to the stage destination Sutri are again determined by beautiful hiking trails past agricultural plantations.
From Sutri, between the fields and meadows of Lazio, continue along the Via Francigena towards Campagnano di Roma. Distinguished stops on this hike are the village of Monterosi on the edge of the Sabatini mountains (Monte Sabatini) and the waterfalls of Monte Gelato, which you automatically meet as you cross the Treja river in the Vale del Treja nature park. The stage destination Campagnano di Roma is located on a hill, the panoramic path in front of it offers beautiful views of the surrounding countryside.
Enjoy the nature of Lazio to the full on the penultimate stage. The path leads you through oak forests and past fields through the tranquil Valle del Sorbo and the Parco di Veio Nature Park to the south. Although it does not look like a landscape, you are officially located in the surrounding area of Rome (Agro Romano) after the communal boundary of the Natural Park Village of Formello.After about 18 kilometers you cross the stream Torrente Cremera, then you go the last few kilometers up to the village of Isola Farnese with the remarkable Castello Farnese. After about three more kilometers on asphalt you reach the stage destination La Storta.
Rome is at your feet today! From La Storta you walk along the new Via Cassia for almost six kilometers until you cross the Rome ring road. Then your way leads you about four and a half kilometers through the Roman recreation area Riserva Naturale dell'Insugherata. Then you are finally in the city and go through the streets and through the park at the lookout Monte Mario almost always south to St. Peter's Square with St. Peter's Basilica.The first point of contact for pilgrims from German-speaking countries is the pilgrim center for German-speaking pilgrims (Centro Pastorale Pellegrini di Lingua Tedesca) in Via del Banco di S. Spirito 56, on the other side of the Tiber about 600 meters from St. Peter's Square.