francigenaTravelling slowly along the old road, the modern wanderer can familiarise with the soul of the places and become an integral part of Italy's most famous landscape. There are landscapes that are part of the collective imagination, so much so that they have become symbols of a territory, a region or a nation. Terre di Siena is one of them. For travellers all over the world it represents not only a symbol of the Tuscan landscape but even the synthesis of beauty, quiet and Italian lifestyle. The towers of San Gimignano, Piazza del Campo in Siena and the cypress trees of Val d'Orcia are all internationally recognised images, featured in countless films, photographs and commercials, which are extremely attractive to international tourists.
Not everyone knows that it is possible to cross all of these places, and the whole province of Siena, on foot nowadays, following an ancient itinerary: the Via Francigena. From San Gimignano to Radicofani, it is possible to walk for a whole week along a completely signposted trail which comprises quiet secondary roads with little traffic and, particularly, the legendary "white roads", dirt roads which are protected as cultural heritage in the province of Siena. Instead of observing the countryside from your car window, you can experience it close up, becoming a part of it. The slow pace offers travellers a closer look and a chance to understand the light and shade of the area. They can learn to read the urban structure of the most famous historical towns, such as San Gimignano and Siena, developed along the Via Francigena, or admire less well-known but equally wonderful places like the "Grancia di Cuna" [Cuna Grange], with its steps, once climbed by mules, or Vignoni Alta, the gate of which seems to look ahead into infinity. After walking amidst Montalcino's vineyards for hours, travellers can drink Brunello and sample "Cacio di Pienza" cheese after encountering the flocks of sheep grazing in the Val d'Orcia. And every now and then, walking across the hill ridges of the Val d'Arbia, you will come across lone horsemen exercising their horses for the Palio di Siena, mounting them bareback.
Dreamlike views, enhanced by the slow speed with which you gradually take them in, without haste, step by step.
Alberto Conte

www.francigena.provincia.siena.it


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