April 9th 2015

A Walk in the Tuscan countryside is always memorable; creating a new Walk is as exciting for us as it is for our Wayfarers! Our inaugural Pilgrims’ Way hike, highlighting some of the very best elements of the ancient Via Francigena from Lucca to Siena departs next month. Walk Leader Lesley Bowles and Walk Manager Laura Leandri have been out on the trail. Lesley gives us this sneak preview of what we can expect under the Italian sunshine: 'We started in Lucca exploring the narrow streets and cycling the monumental walls together with families out with their children and elderly people sitting in the sun catching up on news,' said Lesley. 'The people of Lucca take full advantage of these historic ramparts and it felt good to be able to do the same. 'While Laura was checking out the behind the scene tasks that managers organise, I was enjoying the trails of the Via Francigena and spring was just peeking through, so I was accompanied by primroses, grape hyacinths and purple violets. 'I even heard my first cuckoo of the year. Did pilgrims a thousand years ago hear cuckoos, I wonder? 'One of the most humbling thoughts as I was walking was knowing I was treading in the footsteps of people of all cultures, both the poor and the more affluent, who travelled to Rome eager to pay homage to the tombs of Saint Peter and other early martyrs. 'After Lucca we went onto San Miniato and the seminary there is certainly a work of medieval architectural beauty and stands in silent glory in the early evening. 'Then of course we have the majestic towers of San Gimignano which stand stately guard over the town and are just waiting to be appreciated. 'Staying overnight in San Gimignano means that they can be enjoyed when the tour buses have disappeared. Al fresco lunch at the Fattoria Poggio Alloro 'In San Gimignano we visit Fattoria Poggio Alloro, the setting for the enthralling book A Family Farm in Tuscany and met the author Sara and tasted some of the delicious recipes from her book. 'I met Simona, a present day pilgrim on her way to Rome, laden down with her rucksack and enjoyed her company and her reflections on life as we walked from San Gimignano to Colle val d'Elsa. 'Up and down hills and over streams, we went, stopping from time to time to take in the silent beauty of it all. 'There is just so much magnificence and history just waiting to embrace you as you tread this ancient route through Tuscany.' Find out more about our all-inclusive Walk from Lucca to Siena here.

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