Tuscany offers a huge variety of historic pilgrimage routes of immense scenic and cultural value. Walking them, we discover the stories that have shaped the region and made it what it is today: a place of discovery and hospitality. Following in the pilgrims' footsteps, we find the Via Francigena's incontrovertible beauty intact, but we also stumble upon the ancient treasures of the Etruscan Way and the mystic fascination of the Volto Santo.
The Via Francigena in Tuscany is a pilgrimage route which, between artistic and historic treasures, traverses the nature, hilltowns and cities of an ever-changing, always surprising landscape. Even an Archbishop of Canterbury, Sigeric, walked it on his way to Rome, entering Tuscany by the current Cisa Pass. Today the Francigena represents an important cultural journey, whose beauty and evocative potential have set the standard for the new mode of slow travel; a journey which, whether on foot or on bicycle, enriches the spirit beyond measure.
The Via del Volto Santo and the Via Matildica del Volto Santo are two separate routes, but share a common history and identity. The former starts from Pontremoli and extends for 152 km; the latter goes from Mantua and covers 284. Both meet at Castelnuovo di Garfagnana and from there run in tandem to their terminus at Lucca's Duomo di San Martino, home to the Volto Santo, the wooden statue venerated the world over.
The Romea Strata follows the old routes that pilgrims from central and eastern Europe walked to reach Italy, joining the Via Francigena around Fucecchio and San Miniato, and from there heading to any one of the holy places of the age, be it Rome or Santiago de Compostela. Today you can walk one of five possible routes that merge in the lower Veneto to form the stretch known as the Romea Nonantolana-Longobarda. The last six legs of the journey take place in Tuscany, passing through Cutigliano, San Marcello Piteglio, Pistoia, Vinci, Cerreto Guidi and Fucecchio.
The Via Romea Germanica follows a path that was one of the main medieval arteries between the North Sea and Rome. Detailed in 1256 by Albert of Stade, a Benedictine monk, it covers nearly 2,200 kilometres from the German town of Stade to Rome, crossing Germany, Austria and Italy over 96 stages, 46 of them in Italy. In Tuscany it runs through the Casentino until Arezzo, before bending through the Valdichiana and coming to the museum city of Cortona. It then enters Umbria, goes through Orvieto, and comes down into Lazio, where it links up with the Via Francigena at Montefiascone, and reaches its final destination in St Peter's Square.
The Cammino di San Bartolomeo strings the places connected to Saint Bartholomew into a single route, which connects Emilia with Tuscany. Starting from Fiumalbo, the wayfarer walks around 100 km through woods, hills and chestnut trees, and stops at places like Abetone, Rivoreta, Cutigliano, Popiglio, Piteglio, Prunetta, Pratacco, Le Piastre, Pontepetri, Spedaletto and Baggio. The route finishes in Pistoia, in the beautiful piazza that is home to the church of San Bartolomeo in Pantano.
The Via degli Dei (way of the Gods) is so called probably because of the names of the mountains that it passes, such as Monte Venere (Mount Venus), Monzuno (Mount Juno) and Monte Luario (which refers to the moon goddess). It connects Bologna with Florence along an ancient military road, taking in special landscapes where nature and history mingle in a unique setting. Walking the Flaminian Way, as it once was, you find amphitheatres, woods, fossils and ruins, all of which make the journey even more spectacular. Just follow the signposts from Piazza Maggiore, and in five days you will find yourself in Piazza della Signoria, the cradle of the Renaissance.
The Via Lauretana is an ancient Etruscan-Roman road which connects Cortona to Montepulciano and Siena. Used and expanded by the Romans, it was first paved to link the inland Etruscan cities with their sisters on the Tyrrhenian coast. It later became a pilgrimage route, connecting Siena (and therefore the Via Francigena) with Cortona, spanning six Tuscan municipalities as it wound its way towards the Santa Casa in Loreto.
Finally, the Etruscan Ways (from Volterra to Piombino and from Fucecchio to Fiesole) provide the chance to see vital archaeological finds connected to the Etruscan civilisation, all against Tuscany's most emotive natural backgrounds, bursting with history, culture and tradition.