We arrived in Pisa by train just after lunch, and quickly realised that we could have seen most of the sights with only one night’s stay. We spent the afternoon exploring the section of town that doesn’t have the leaning town and the cathedral. Continue reading Pisa
Our walk today began in the small town of San Martino sul Fiora, about half an hour’s drive from the previous night’s acommodation. We had just enjoyed one of the best breakfasts of the trip so far – fresh melon, muesli and yoghurt followed by the most vivid orange eggs I have ever seen. The taste reassured me that it was due to the quality of their feed rather than some chemical additive.
Continue reading Saturnia
Our route for the day started by heading out of Pitigliano down the now familiar Via Cave di Poggio Cane, but when we reached the highway we turned in a new direction and followed a couple of roads until we reached the beginning of the Via Cave di San Guiseppe.
Continue reading Sovana
Today’s walk was mercifully quite short, as we are spending a second night in Pitigliano. The town has a population of about 4000 people, and although it was once another Etruscan settlement its name dates back to Roman times.
Continue reading Pitigliano
Vitozza was one of the largest cave settlements in central Italy, and has over 200 dwellings excavated from the volcanic tuff stone. It was inhabited from Etruscan times (around 800 BC) until the end of the 18th century.
Continue reading Vitozza
We were dropped off at the end of a small country road near San Valentino in the early afternoon, so we only walked a kilometer or so before stopping under a shady oak tree to eat lunch. Soon after we set off again, the road petered out into a grassy track and eventually we came to a sign advising us that we were at the beginning of the Via Cava di San Carlo. Continue reading Sorano
Our instructions for getting from Orvieto train station to our accommodation were to take a taxi, because the town is over a hundred meters up on top of a steep cliff. When we asked a taxi driver to take us however, he told us that the road was closed for the day because of a “celebrazione”. Fortunately, there is a funicular railway as an alternative. Continue reading Orvieto
There is so much to see in Firenze, as the Italians call the capital city of Tuscany, that we are spending a couple more nights here before leaving Europe. Getting here from Siena wasn’t as straightforward as we had hoped, because our train unexpectedly terminated at a place called Empoli, and we had to take another 20 minute train ride to get into the city. Continue reading Return to Florence
Siena is very similar to the other Tuscan hill towns we have visited recently, just ten times the size. There are many thousands of tourists jamming the narrow streets, which also allow cars, trucks and even buses, not to mention maniac Italians on motor-scooters. It is not a relaxing place. Continue reading Siena
On the last day of our walk through Tuscany we have covered about 15 kilometers, because we made a detour along the way to visit the hill town of Monteccheillo. About half a km outside of Pienza we had the option of an alternative road because the GPS waymarked route can get muddy – not much chance of that today! Continue reading Pienza to Montepulciano
The town we have walked to today used to be named Corsignano, but in 1405 a bloke named Enea Silvio Bartolomeo Piccolomini was born. 53 years later he was elected Pope Pius II, and decided to embark on a programme of urban renewal in his hometown, which from then on was called Pienza – the town of Pius. Continue reading San Quirico – Pienza
Today’s walk passed through the thermal spa town of Bagno Vignoni, one of the most interesting places in the Orcia Valley. As we walked down towards the river after breakfast we had some fantastic views of Rocca d’Orcia behind us up on top of the hill. Continue reading Rocca d’Orcia to San Quirico
The 27 inhabitants of this medieval borgo (hamlet) reckon it is the oldest in Italy. It is definitely one of the best preserved in Tuscany. Towering above it is the rocca, which is a fortified tower. For over a thousand years it repelled numerous military assaults, but by the middle of the 20th century it was threatening to collapse onto the town. Continue reading Castelnuovo dell’Abate to Rocca d’Orcia
Today our walk took us to Abbazia di Sant’Antimo, about 10 km from Montalcino. Much of the walk was through forest so the heat was not too unpleasant. Continue reading Abbey of Sant’ Antimo
Because our accommodation had been on the outskirts of town, we made a detour past fields of sunflowers to explore Buonconvento before starting our walk this morning. It is only a small town, but its location on the main road between Sienna and Rome which the Romans named Via Cassia, means that it has been around for a while. Continue reading Buonconvento to Montalcino
We had a leisurely start to the day today since our train didn’t depart until just after 11.00 am and the station was only a few minutes walk from the hotel. We ate breakfast looking out over the magnificent cathedral dome, which turned out to be just a couple of rooftops away. Continue reading Monte Oliveto to Buonconvento
Our train left Neuchâtel just after 7.00am, and we changed to an international service at Lausanne an hour or so later. Sometime late in the morning we reached the town of Brig, then almost immediately entered the almost 20 km long Simplon Tunnel. For most of the 20th century this was the world’s longest, until one in Japan beat it in 1982. Now the record is held by the nearby Gotthard Base Tunnel which is over 57 km. Continue reading Florence