Via Francigena: Altiplacio to San Miniato

Roza and Russell at the start of day 2

29 km and demanding! (According to the book…)

Day 2 of walking the Via Francigena (VF) and after yesterdays walking through industrial zones and on tarmac we were looking forward to being back off the beaten track walking through countryside and woodland.

As 29 km is over 18 miles and with temperatures of 26 degrees forecast we decided an early start was in order.


Following coffee and a croissant the 6 of us were on our way by 7.45 am. We soon left the dirt road track adjacent to a bypass and were in woodland.

Early morning dew

We enjoyed the fresh scent and silence of walking through a pretty wood which was a huge improvement on the previous day.

Walking through the woods

The VF is well maintained and throughout the 6 days navigation was easy with excellent signage. We each had the VF app as a backup but didn’t really need to use it.

As we came out of the woods we passed pretty spring flowers lining the fields.

Bridge at Greppi

This bridge was built over the site of what was previously an ancient stone bridge which was previously one of the principle roads of the Via Francigena.

Ancient road

Different ways of completing the VF: walking, cycling or horseback! And you could also drive it although you would miss much of the landscapes you are emersed in when walking.

At Villa Campanile we were delighted to find an open cafe where we each enjoyed a fruit salad, croissant and another coffee.

A small lake in the woods
Approaching Ponte a Cappiano
Hanger left…

Ponte a Cappiano is a village along the route and the Medici Bridge was built in 1550 after the previous bridge was destroyed in conflict between Florence and Lucca.

Medici Bridge at Ponte a Cappiano

From Ponte a Cappiano we had a pleasant walk along an embankment for 1.6 km adjacent to the Usciana Canal before turning right through some fields.

Clover path

As we approached Fucecchio we walked along a pretty grassy path lined with clover.

Steps leading to Fucecchio

Fucecchio was founded around the 10th century and the first thing we noticed was the flags which line the streets.


This nun waved at us as she walked past. We had just popped into a convent where we obtained a Fucecchio stamp for our Via Francigena pilgrim passports.

Church of San Salvatore
Inside the San Giovanni Battista
Sitting on the steps outside the San Giovanni Battista

We were in the historic centre of Fucecchio and by now we were feeling in need of a rest and a bite to eat.

San Giovanni Battista

We made our way to the Piazza Montanelli in search of lunch!


There are several eateries in this newer part of the town near the Piazza Montanelli and we had a lovely stop in a clean and modern cafe where I tried local beer with a tasty tuna and tomato foccacia.

Piazza Montanelli

After lunch the next stretch was fairly flat and hot as we made our way towards San Miniato.

Pilgrim stop

As we entered the outskirts of San Miniato we came across a little stall, a pilgrim stop! A selection of drinks and snacks were being offered and in return pilgrims are expected to leave a donation. There was even some comfy seats to rest our weary legs for a few minutes.

San Miniato

Onwards and upwards…

We passed through the built up area of San Miniato and next faced a steep climb up a rural track as the old part of town came into view on top of the hill.

San Miniato
San Miniato

We walked through a rose edged path with the end nearly in sight.

13th century cathedral

Eventually we arrived at the 13th Century San Miniato Cathedral which was located next to our hotel.

Frederico II Tower

Having just walked the best part of 20 miles the 6 of us decided to climb the 37 m high Frederico II tower which was built on the top of the highest hill. We received a pilgrim discount, dropped our backpacks and headed up!

At the top of the tower
San Miniato

We had amazing panoramic views from the top of the tower!

San Miniato
Mike’s photo of the 6 of us at the top of the tower!
Celebrating 20 miles with lemonchello spritz

Back down from the tower and we found a small square with a few bars. In one of them we had the best ever tasting refreshing lemoncello spritz. And probably the strongest!

View from our window

We checked into the Hotel Miravalle on the Piazzetta Del Castello where we were delighted to be given a large slightly old fashioned room. From the open window we had a direct view of the cathedral and the tower (to the left) to remind us of the lofty heights we had just climbed!

View from the ‘spare’ room

We also had a second bedroom which had another incredible view looking over the town!

Shortly after checking in, admiring the views and having showers the 6 of us met up again in the same bar and had another lemoncello spritz before heading off to a pizza restaurant for dinner. As we sat in the early evening sun, the Swiss couple we had met the previous night stopped to say hello.


What a brilliant day! We really felt we were back on the Via Francigena proper, the one we remembered from last year that wound its way through lush, green and spectacular scenery. One of the best things about this type of holiday is that every day is totally different. You wake up each morning and don’t know what you will encounter, what little treasures you will come across or what jaw dropping views you will see. You don’t know where you will eat lunch, who you will meet or what the accommodation will be like when you reach it at the end of the day. The trip unfolds and is created with each step along the way. So exciting!

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