Cycle the Via Francigena - Siena to Rome

Cycle the Via Francigena - Siena to Rome

Trip Highlights

  • Exploring the renowned cities of Siena and Rome
  • Admiring the sunset over Lake Bolsena
  • Walking barefoot on the paving of the Via Cassia in Montefiascone
  • Discovering the thermal pool in the center of Bagno Vignoni square, the amphitheatre of Sutri, and the pilgrims district in Viterbo

Trip Summary

As you cycle this section of the Via Francigena you will feel like your cycling in a postcard. Each day you will marvel at the passing scenery - from the vineyards and rolling hills of Tuscany, to the fascinating villages of Umbria, to the beauty of Lake Bolsena, and finally the magnificent Eternal City of Rome. Beginning in the historic town of Siena you will cross the Val d’Arbia and the Val d’Orcia, both icons of the Tuscan landscape. You will continue to Bagno Vignoni, with its enormous thermal pool in the centre of the square, and Radicofani, whose fortress dominates southern Tuscany. As you make your way towards Rome you will be amazed by the beauty of Lake Bolsena, and charmed by the ancient paving stones of the Via Cassia, still intact after 2000 years. You will be enchanted by the medieval center of Viterbo, which has an entire district dedicated to the pilgrim. You will cycle to the ancient Etruscan roads and to the Roman amphitheatre of Sutri. The last cycle day will bring you along a beautiful cycle path straight into the heart of Rome, to your final destination of St. Peter's Square. You will also be able to appreciate the true Italian flavours, sampling delicacies of the vineyards of the Brunello di Montalcino, the cheese produced in the zones of the cacio di Pienza, and the famed extra-virgin olive oil produced between Bolsena and Montefiascone.

Suitability

This trip involves 7 days cycling with daily distances between 33 to 55km/20.5 to 34mi. The cycle route is mainly along well-asphalted country and secondary roads. As you approach larger towns you will cycle on roads with more traffic. The accent is on keeping a relaxed pace to take in all of the attractions, with time to stop and take photos. You will need a good level of fitness to participate fully in this adventure. *For safety reasons we insist that helmets be included as a compulsory item on your equipment list.

Itinerary

Make your own way to the first hotel in Siena. Siena is one of the most beautiful towns along the Francigena. You will be able to spend the day walking through its paved streets, looking for coats-of-arms on the walls of the contradas, or climbing the Torre del Mangia to enjoy a unique view over the town. A visit to the Duomo is not to be missed and you will marvel at its black and white columns. If you are lucky you will be able to witness a festival in one of the contradas, and see the work of the skilled flag-throwers, before sitting down at a table in Piazza del Campo to enjoy a plate of pici all’aglione for dinner, admiring the illuminated Palazzo Pubblico square.

Meals:  Nil

The cycle today over the Crests of the Val d’Arbia offers unforgettable views. You will start the day cycling along the typical dirt roads of Siena, pedaling as far as the fortified village of Lucignano, with its fine Church. At the gates of Monteroni d’Arbia you will be able to admire the impressive Grancia di Cuna, a fortified farm which held the reserves of wheat which were once destined to the republic of Siena. From Lucignano you will continue your journey through the Valle dell’Ombrone to Buonconvento. You will cross the gate of the walls and enter the fine old town centre of the village, discovering why its name translates to “happy fortunate place”, before jumping again on your bicycle and continuing towards San Quirico over a mix of dirt and asphalted roads. The final section of today includes beautiful views of the Val D’Orcia, and the route is scattered with vineyards and cypress trees. Arriving in San Quirico you will be enchanted by the gate of the Collegiata. This evening you can enjoy a rest among the green hedges of the Horti Leonini, a fifteenth century garden. Distance: 54km/33.5mi, ascent 650m/2132ft, descent 490m/1608ft

Meals:  B

Today your journey continues with fabulous views of the Val D’Orcia. Just beyond San Quirico you will enter a timeless world, visiting Vignoni Alto. You will also be able to enjoy a reinvigorating dip in the thermal waters of Bagno Vignoni. Today you will test your strength with a short but demanding section which will take you as far as Radicofani. Stick it out, because when you admire the view from the Radicofani Fortress, tired but satisfied, you will be thankful for your efforts. You will also be able to visit the Pieve di San Pietro, a little jewel dating back to the thirteenth century, and take an evening walk in the old town centre, admiring the magic of the illuminated Fortress. Distance: 37km/23mi or 42km/26mi, ascent 650m/2132ft or 650m/2132ft, descent 455m/1493ft or 650m/2132ft

Meals:  B,D

From Radicofani you will head towards one of the most exciting sections of the Via Francigena, leaving the Fortress behind you and travelling along the old Via Cassia, surrounded by scenery of infinite hills dominated by Monte Amiata. You will be able to walk in silence in the Romanesque crypt beneath the Basilica del Santo Sepolcro, among decorated capitals and arches: where, according to tradition, some stones bathed in the blood of Christ are supposed to have been kept. Your journey will continue gently as Lake Bolsena starts to come into view. From here you will descend into a volcanic crater and you will continue along dirt tracks. Your surrounds will alternate between thick woods and meadows scattered with olive trees, as you continue towards Bolsena. If you are curious to see proof of the miracle of the Corpus Domini, for which Bolsena is famous, visit the Cappella del Miracolo where some marble slabs stained by the blood pouring from a Host in the thirteen century are kept. If, instead, you are more interested in the typical cuisine you can taste the local delicacies, including the Sbroscia, a typical soup made from lake fish and tomatoes. Distance: 55km/34mi or 60km/37mi ascent 620m/2034ft or 840m/2756ft, descent 610m/2000ft or 610m/2000ft

Meals:  B

Today you will cycle through woods and olive groves, on a route that will offer constant views of the lake. You will cross an area famous for the production of extra virgin olive oil, which we recommend you sample on a piece of fragrant local bread. When you arrive in Montefiascone, a climp up to the Rocca, where you will be enchanted before a boundless views, is not to be missed. After descending from the Rocca, you can go into a typical wine bar and taste a glass of wine from the famous Est!Est!!Est!!! region of Montefiascone. If you want to spoil yourself a little more, you will be able to enjoy a pleasant break at the spas of Bagnaccio, recharging your batteries in its thermal waters before cycling towards Viterbo, your destination for today. In honour of the history of the Via Francigena, do not miss visiting the picturesque pilgrim’s quarter, before admiring the splendid Palazzo dei Papi and enjoying the silence of the Longobard cloisters of Santa Maria Nuova. And to end the day on a sweet note, celebrate your journey with the delicious local frittellacce. Distance: 33km/20.5mi, ascent 545m/1788ft, descent 420m/1378ft

Meals:  B

From Viterbo the journey continues towards Vetralla,a town located in the heart of the ancient Etrurian territory. Later you continue pedaling through the green countryside of Lazio before arriving in Sutri, a small town that is rich in attractions. The Roman amphitheatre, completely dug out from the tufo, is a sight not to be missed. Here you can sit on the terraces or even walk onto the stage. As you leave the amphitheatre remember to sign the visitors’ register as it is very important to the custodian, and if he is there he will invite you to do so. After this, you can proceed to the church of Santa Maria del Partro, where the tufo walls are decorated with beautiful frescoes. Be sure to look for the group of pilgrims among the images, who are depicted in prayer with their sticks in their hand. Distance: 38km/23.5mi, ascent 420m/788ft, descent 510m/1673ft

Meals:  B,D

From Sutri you will cycle towards Campagnano and the Formello. During the journey today you will pass the Mount Gelato Waterfalls, where you can stop for a reinvigorating dip. A cycle along the panoramic road of the Veio Nature Park will bring you to the gates of Campagnano. Here you can rest in the Venturi Park, home to a three-hundred year old Yew tree which the locals call the “Tree of Death". But don’t worry, you can sit in its shade without any danger! You will continue through the Veio Nature Park, with its woody hills, before entering the enchanting Valle del Sorbo. Along the way you will be able to admire the sanctuary of the Madonna del Sorbo and you will later arrive in Formello, with its medieval buildings. Distance: 34km/21mi, ascent 534m/1759ft, descent 590m/1936ft

Meals:  B

Today marks the last cycle of the trip, with just 34km between you and the Eternal City. This morning you will continue across the countryside of Lazio, which you would never guess lies so close to a metropolis. You will need to cross a brief section of trafficked roads to reach the cycle path of River Tevere, an enchanting slow path which will lead you to the gates of Vatican City. Your cycling journey will end in St Peter's Square. Don't forget to take a triumphant photograph in front of the Basilica, before celebrating the end of your journey. Tonight you can sample some delicious local food. We recommend the spring lamb, pecorino romano cheese, and perhaps a delicious maritozzo with cream. Distance: 34km/21mi, ascent 155m/509ft, descent 280m/919ft

Meals:  B

Arrangements conclude after breakfast. Extra nights can be arranged in Rome.

Meals:  B

What's Included

  • 8 breakfasts, 2 dinners
  • 8 nights in charming B&Bs and 3 star hotels (hotel taxes extra, payable locally - allow €10)
  • Information pack including route notes and maps per room booked, plus app to download and navigate the route
  • Luggage transfer from day 2 to day 8 (max 1 piece per person)
  • Emergency hotline
  • Hybrid 21 speed rental bike with front bag map holder, odometer, pannier, lock, repair kit and helmet
  • bike theft insurance
  • pilgrim passport

What's Not Included

  • Travel to Siena and from Rome
  • Lunches and dinner daily (except dinner on day 3 and 6) and all beverages
  • Entrance fees to museums, parks and archaeological sites
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tour guide – this is a self guided trip
  • Travel insurance
  • Hotel taxes (allow €14)

Upcoming Travel Dates

Reviews

This is not a trip for the feint hearted. You need to be extremely fit and confident travelling on roads with high speed traffic and off-road on steep hills with all sorts of surfaces. On the positive side, it is a fantastic way to see this part if Italy. There is plenty of variety in the countryside and beautiful towns along the route. We enjoyed the different accommodation which was all comfortable.

L & I Kirkwood, South Australia, 05 Oct 2018

AT A GLANCE

Duration:9 Days
Countries:Italy
Starting Point:Siena
Finishing Point:Rome
Activities:7 day self guided cycle
Grade:moderate  Click for more information
Trip Code:VF3
Prices From:GBP£1230 Per Person
single supplement:GBP£280  Click for more information
single traveller surcharge:GBP£310  Click for more information
Please do not book any flights or extra arrangements until such time that your booking is confirmed by Sherpa Expeditions by phone or email.