👣 30 km by foot – Friday 27 August
It was already quite warm when we left this morning, around 8 am. Today Road to Rome ambassador Jennifer Deckert joined us with her dog Maia, as well as Michele, a local AIGAE guide. However, after less than one hour walk, we bumped into a large group of walkers from Colle Val d’Elsa, gathered by Viola, from the tourist office, and Rudy, another licensed guide. The Road to Rome group duplicated at that moment! We all headed towards Colle Val d’Elsa (it was decided to walk this longer variant of the Via Francigena to reach today’s destination).
I knew nothing about Colle Val d’Elsa – nobody talks about it as much as San Gimignano or Monteriggioni – but it is very beautiful! There were no tourists and not many touristy bars or restaurants: it feels like an authentic place and community of Toscana. We were warmly welcomed by the mayor and the councilor, we had a tour of the town and had lunch in the garden of the archeologic museum (now closed), both organized by Proloco Colle Val d’Elsa. We then had a surprise visit at a local artisan’s shop, Francesco, who blows crystal glass and explains the basics of his work. He smoothly and easily made a little glass horse, a water bowl, and a wine glass – with all of us watching curiously. He gifted each of us a little wine flask as a souvenir, with ‘Road to Rome, Colle Val d’Elsa’ and today’s date carved on them (this is too beautiful to carry and risk braking in my backpack – I’ll give it to someone as soon as they go back home!). His oven goes up to 1200°C – it was so hot inside! In comparison, the heat of the sun afterwards was…refreshing.
We then continued walking towards Abbadia, crossing the natural park of river Elsa, an oxygen- and calcium-rich river with a bright turquoise color. We briefly visited Le Caldane, an ancient Etruscan thermal bath and one of the sources of the Elsa River, with crystal clear water. I was extremely tempted to dive in – but it was already quite late and we had to move on.
We finally arrived in Abbadia a Isola. The beautiful pilgrim hostel of Abbadia is inside an ancient architectural complex amid the Tuscan landscape and is definitely worth a stop.
Tomorrow we will walk from here to Monteriggioni and then to Siena! The next few days will be very intense, with packed timetables and lots of meetings. Tomorrow morning, for example, we are going to meet and walk with Eugenio Giani, President of the Region of Tuscany. I will need a good rest tonight – good night!
– Seeing and learning how glass-blowing works
– The river Elsa and Le Caldane thermal water source
– The beautiful hostel in Abbadia a Isola, where we sleep tonight
Myra Stals, Social Media Manager (EAVF)
Luca Bruschi, Director (EAVF)
Elena Dubinina, International Relations (EAVF)
Jennifer Deckert, RTR Ambassador
Michele Busillo, AIGAE guide
Rudy Cucini, guide
Shandra & Angela from the USA
Local group of walkers from Colle di Val d’Elsa
Filippo Racanella, videomaker