St Catherine of Siena is the focus of this walk on the Via Francigena that connects her cities – Siena where she was born and Rome where part of her remains reside. Along with St Francis, she is the patron saint of Italy. This walk from San Miniato to Rome connects fabulous Tuscan cities like Siena, San Gimignano, and Monteriggioni, with beautiful towns of Lazio, like Viterbo and Sutri, before bringing pilgrims to the Eternal City of Rome. It’s designed to give women the opportunity to walk together and study one of the world’s great women saints.
“Be who you were created to be, and you will set the world on fire.” – St. Catherine of Siena
A Pilgrimage is a sacred journey to a foreign place in search of a new understanding of self and life. This walk in the footsteps of St. Catherine of Siena, patron saint of Italy, offers a chance to reflect and learn from a woman who nearly 700 years ago found her voice and lived true to her calling. Join a small group of women on an adventure to deepen the connection to our own authentic voices and hearts through days of walking, good food, contemplative exercises and sharing. This time dedicated to self-reflection, fellowship, and fun will instill a fresh sense of confidence, hope, and clarity. -Laura Harris
Itinerary for San Miniato to Rome:
Monday, September 23, 2024 – Arrive in San Miniato station, easy to reach from the Florence or Rome airports.
– We share in an orientation and inaugural meal with our fellow walkers. Overnight in San Miniato.
Tuesday, September 24, 2024 (24.1km/15.0 miles)- San Miniato to Gambassi Terme
-This very picturesque first day carries pilgrims through beautiful farmland with constant, sweeping vistas of Tuscan countryside.
Wednesday, September 25, 2024 – (13.7km/8.5miles) Gambassi Terme to San Gimignano
– On this day you walk through the best of Tuscany. Vineyards on rolling hills with wineries around every corner. You will spend time at the sacred sites of the Santuario Di Madre Della Divina Provvidenza and the Monastery of Bose. We spend the night in San Gimignano, one of Italy’s best-preserved medieval towns.
Thursday, September 26, 2024 (12.4km/7.7 miles or 23.7km/14.7 miles) – San Gimignano to Colle di Val d’Elsa.
– The beautiful scenery continues, today with more forests than vineyards. A surprise afternoon delight is a walk along Sentierelsa, a riverside path over the turquoise waters and along the swimming holes of the River Elsa. Don’t forget your swimsuit! After a van ride we overnight at Abbadia d’Isola or the hardier in the group can walk the additional 11.3km to our lodging.
Friday, September 27, 2024 (23.9km/14.9 miles) – Abbadia d’Isola to Siena.
– The first and most impressive stop is the hilltop fortress of Monteriggioni, virtually untouched in its 500 years of existence. It’s easy to imagine yourself a sentry, guarding the edges of Siennese territory against invaders. Afterward it’s on through olive groves and forests to the Pian del Lago – the drained lake below Siena, who’s 2km long, 18th c drainage tunnel can still be explored. We climb to Siena then, to enjoy this incomparable hilltop city, preserved as a unique slice of medieval Tuscan life.
Saturday, September 28, 2024
– Rest and exploration day in Siena. This is our opportunity to delve deeper into the life of St. Catherine, beloved and revered by the city where she lived. Siena holds many other delights as well, including the Piazza del campo, and the Duomo of Siena, one of Italy’s great ecclesiastical buildings. Tonight, dinner is on you, and you’re free to explore the gastronomy of this amazing city, one of Italy’s most beloved.
Sunday, September 29, 2024 (25.9km/16.1 miles) – Siena to Ponte d’Arbia.
– The Crete Senese, the grey-soiled farmland south of Siena and north of the Val d’Orcia is our setting for today’s walk. We make our way downhill from Siena and instantly are surrounded by sweeping views of countryside all around. Ponte d’Arbia offers a bar/cafe but not much else, so we take the van to our overnight in Buonconvento, a very charming medieval village 5km away. Overnight Buonconvento.
Monday, September 30, 2024 (21.8km/13.5 miles)
– Buonconvento to San Quirico d’Orcia. Now we enter the agricultural Orcia Valley that was made famous in scenes from movies like “Gladiator.” Rolling hills, arrow-straight cypress trees, vast green or golden fields, and vineyards on the hillsides, here producing the Brunello of Montalcino wines that make the area famous. Overnight in San Quirico d’Orcia.
Tuesday, October 1, 2024 (16.9km/10.5 miles or 32.9km/20.4 miles)
– San Quirico d’Orcia to Radicofani. Again it’s downhill, this time to the Orcia Valley floor, but by way of the famous Bagno Vignoni, baths beloved by St Catherine of Siena. We continue toward the hilltop fortress of Radicofani, with an optional van transfer from Gallena. The hardiest of our group continue in the 12km uphill to Radicofani itself.
Wednesday, October 2, 2024 (25.5km/15.8 miles)
– Radicofani to Proceno. Today we cross the border in Lazio, but rather than walking the Via Cassia, we detour to the fortress town of Proceno where we relax before taking the van transfer to Acquapendente. Overnight Acquapendente.
Thursday, October 3, 2024 (23.2km/14.4 miles) – Acquapendente to Bolsena.
– In the Middle Ages the town of Acquapendente was famous for the miracle of the blood, today a relic housed in the crypt of the San Sepolcro Church. After viewing the ancient crypt we walk to San Lorenzo Nuovo for our first view of Lago di Bolsena, a lake that fills the ancient crater of a volcano. We pass through forests and olive groves, before entering this lakeside town by passing its Renaissance-era fortress.
Friday, October 4, 2024 (16.5km/10.3 miles) – Bolsena to Montefiascone.
– Leaving the lakeshore we walk to the crater’s outer ridge where the town of Montefiascone can be found. The town was a fortress of the Papacy and also well known for its white wines.
Saturday, October 5, 2024 (18.1km/11.2 miles) – Montefiascone to Viterbo.
– We look out for the last time over Lago di Bolsena on our way out of Montefiascone, walking downhill on the original pavers of the Roman road, the Via Cassia. From there we cross the valley, stopping if it’s open at Bagnaccio hot springs (it’s currently closed for construction). Then we enter Viterbo, once home to the Popes and now an undiscovered jewel of medieval streets, palaces and churches.
Sunday, October 6, 2024 (22.0km/13.7 miles) – Viterbo to Vetralla.
– We take the official route through San Martino al Cimino which carries us through lush forests to the quiet, Lazio town of Vetralla. This typical city, under the sway of the Pope in Rome for centuries, is now a picturesque, sleepy town in the rolling hills of the countryside.
Monday, October 7, 2024 (24.0km/14.9 miles) – Vetralla to Sutri.
– Sutri is the capital of Etruscan archeology, and we take time to visit the archeological park and amphitheater after a walk through farms, vineyards and orchards, ending in a creekside and shady entry to Sutri.
Tuesday, October 8, 2024 (27.7km/17.2 miles) – Sutri to Campagnano di Roma.
– We become acquainted with the lowly hazelnut, making our way through vast orchards in the largest hazelnut producing region of Italy. Deep in one orchard are the two, mysterious “Towers of Orlando,” linked to Charlemagne’s beloved friend, Roland. Campagnano di Roma is abuzz in its piazza with evening life, so we enjoy a passeggiata and optional gelato in the evening, alfresco (weather permitting).
Wednesday, October 9, 2024 (24.2km/15.0 miles) – Campagnano di Roma to La Storta.
– The Parco Veio, a large Etruscan archeological park, is our context for much of today’s walk, and though we are nearing Rome, the walk is forests, pastures, and the occasional small town, like Formello, with its delightful medieval quarter. La Storta overnight.
Thursday, October 10, 2024 (19.2km/ 12.0 miles) – La Storta to Rome.
– Bella Roma. Bella Italia. We say our final goodbye to the Via Cassia and make our way into Rome through the Insugherata Nature Preserve and the Monte Mario Park. Then it’s to the Vatican and St Peter’s for our completion certificates. In the late afternoon, we take a walking tour through some of the top sites of Rome, including the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, and most importantly, Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, site of the Roman remains of St. Catherine of Siena.
Friday, October 11
– After a final breakfast together, we say goodbye and head on to our next adventure.