up at Florence Santa Maria Novella Rail Station at 4.00 pm. Transfer by bus to our hotel at Vescovado
di Murlo (about 90 minutes through beautiful countryside). This evening before dinner we have an orientation
walk around the village of Vescovado then a welcome drink and get-together.
The guides will tell you about the next day's walk.
walk (about 1 km) to see the small medieval village of Murlo and then we
private bus to the hill-top town of Montalcino in the heart of the
Brunello wine district. Brunello red wine is world famous - some of the
best in Italy. Here, there is a chance to explore the town
with its 14th century fortress, its wine tasting establishments and its quaint shops. The
history of Montalcino dates back to Roman times and it reached its
zenith during the Renaissance days of the Medici princes. Today it has
From Montalcino we walk for about two
hours surrounded by beautiful fields and vineyards on what was once an
ancient Roman road.
This is part of the Via Francigena on which medieval pilgrims made their way to Rome
and along the way stopped at the remote Abbey of St Antimo. This walk is so picturesque it seems as if we reach
our destination too soon. According to legend, the abbey was founded in
the 9th century by Charlemagne when a local herbalist miraculously cured
his troops of an illness. We have a chance to go inside where the soft
sound of a Gregorian chant echoes through the alabaster interior.
Monday: Morning transfer by private bus to a small
Tuscan village where we begin our walk to San Gimignano. We ramble along
quiet country roads amid vineyards and beautiful Tuscan scenery with
the fragrance of wild fennel and rosemary pervading the air. Soon the
medieval spires of San Gimignano can be seen in the distance. In
medieval times San Gimignano was a stop on the route to Rome hence its prosperity. The
route is about four hours of easy walking with an uphill entrance to the
town at the end. At the top
of the hill San Gimignano awaits with its treasure-trove of museums and
churches, great Renaissance
masterpieces and 14 of the original medieval towers still stand. But,
even more important, there is an abundance of gellaterias selling
Tuesday: Today we transfer to San Quirico where we
begin a walk in one of the most beautiful parts of Tuscany. We start
gentle downhill ramble to the town of Bagno Vignoni with its ancient Roman baths. In the 1400's Medici princes
frequented the baths for medicinal reasons and St Catherine is said to have
relaxed in the sulphur hot springs. Today
there is a hotel where one can have a dip in the hot springs (optional). From Bagno Vignoni we continue to the exquisite town of Pienza that has changed
little since it was built in the 15th century as a project of Pope Pius II
. The pontiff came from this region and his dream was to create
the ideal town. Construction started but war intervened
and the town still sits as if frozen in time.
is market day in Siena and it is about a 30 minute bus ride from
Vescovado di Murlo. Siena is centred around a magnificent black and
white marble Duomo (cathedral) and around the famous Campo where
everything used to happen from banquets to bartering, from hangings to
horse-racing. This jewel of a town offers art treasures, Renaissance
palaces, a Medici fortress, great artistic masterpieces, and a maze of
narrow alleyways filled with shops which are an Aladdin's cave of local
delicacies. There is also the National wine library with a
wine bar for tasting, secret courtyards and delicious smelling trattorias. We spend the day exploring Siena and in the late afternoon, just as
the afternoon sun is turning the old bricks of the town to gold, we
return by bus to Vescovado di Murlo.
Today we begin our walk from the
hotel. We stroll on country footpaths to visit the Etruscan archaeological dig at Poggio Civitate where
many interesting Etruscan artefacts have been unearthed. The walk
continues on through a woodland trail to a remote monastery with
spectacular views. We picnic here and then continue to La
Befa. Our bus then takes us a short distance and we continue the
walk to the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore. This exquisite old monastery is filled with frescoes by the famous
Renaissance artists Luca Signorelli and Giovanni Bazzi (better known as Il Sodoma)
depicting the life of St Benedict. The
monastery was built in this remote location by the wealthy
elite (males) of Florence who wanted to escape the 13th century plague in the city.
Today it is still a working monastery with a shop selling herbal
remedies and home-brewed liqueurs.
We save the best for last. Morning
transfer to Pienza . From here we walk down a gradual incline through magnificent
wine country to the tiny village of Monticchiello. For those who wish to continue
walking it is another two hours through the beautiful Val D'Orcia to reach Montepulciano on foot.
Montepulciano with its magical labyrinth of narrow streets, artisans
workshops and boutiques selling local produce is the ultimate place for
wine-tasting. (Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wine is world-famous).
by bus to Florence Rail Station about 10.30 am.