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THE VIA FRANCIGENA San Gimignano-Gracciano (Colle Valdelsa)

The via Francigena is a path travelled in the past by thousands of pilgrims travelling to Rome. The story tells that was Sigeric, Archbishop of Canterbury, visiting Rome to meet Pope John XV, to mark the start of the journey, known as the Via Francigena, resulting was the birth of one of the most important routes of pilgrimage from Canterbury to Rome and constituted one of the most important European traffic routes in medieval times. It is known as three were the poles of attraction for this humanity journey: Rome, place of martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul, founders of the Christian Church community; the Holy Land, seat of Golgotha, where they researched the places of the passion of Christ; Santiago de Compostela, extreme tip of Western Europe, where the Apostle St. James had chosen to rest in peace. And so Europe became a great collector of roads, paths and routes, all converging towards the places of pilgrimage. The via Francigena is spread over a path of 1600 km from Canterbury. The way crosses the Alps in Valle d'Aosta and descended from Piedmont and Lombardy from the Po Valley, crossing the Apennines towards Berceto, ran through the Tuscan and Lazio to reach Rome. Still today are traceable on our territories fragments and memories of those routes that founded the history of Europe.

place of departure: San Gimignano, Piazza del Duomo
arrival Location: Colle Valdelsa - Gracciano, via Bandiera

via Flag total duration: 5h 30'
journey distance (Km): 19,16
difficulty: Media

Classification
recommended period: spring, summer, autumn
medium used: walking
road signs: arrows and red and white tapes for almost any Specific Strokes

Specifications
paved path (%): 20
dirt roads (%): 79
mule tracks and paths(%): 1
uphill climb (m): 320
denivele (m): 475
maximum quota reached (m): 330

Notes on the trail: Stage rather hard, where we will encounter some Fords that in the wet seasons may reserve some surprise. The interest is essentially landscape, but the Pearl of the day, Badia a Coneo, justifies our labors. Unfortunately you cannot stay overnight at Gracciano, but Colle val d'Elsa can be reached quickly on foot or in a few minutes with the frequent buses.

Left behind the Cathedral we turn right and go down via San Giovanni, to Porta San Giovanni, where we exit walls crossing the square on the left side, to take the road for Certaldo, and after 100 m turn right into Via Baccanella. At the roundabout continue straight, turn immediately left for St. Lucia, and continue for about 2 km on asphalt road, until you pass the sports field to turn right at a newsstand candles next to Podere il Pino. Let us go down into the Woods, we continue straight at the first crossroads, and end up on a cart track, where we turn right until you come to Ford of Borro. If the level of the stream is high, we must pay close attention, in particular to the Fund muddy, very similar to quicksand; should get off course of the river for about ten meters and Wade on stones. We ascend amongst vineyards towards the Podere Vallebuia, which we will cross along on the right, to arrive at the top of the Hill, where we turn left along an abandoned farmhouse. Let go easy down until Ford Botro dei Bagni, definitely easier than the previous, then we restart the climb until Chiusi Torraccia, where the cart track descends on the left, and turn right at the gate of the Villa. Once in the Valley, we cross a group of houses at the Lake d'aiano, we turn right and immediately left, until you pass a new Ford, turn left immediately before the next Ford of torrent. At the fork in the Woods we turn right and continue to follow the Valley, at the crossroads after the cleanser we continue right, until the junction with the provincial road, where we turn left and immediately right. Let us resume the dirt road, and at the first crossroad turn right towards the valley floor, which we follow, immersed in a landscape, with a parish church on the right, on the other side of the Valley. After a stroke cobblestones uphill turn right at a hairpin bend, the next hairpin right again, after 150 m on the left and then right onto asphalt road. Here we are near the splendid Badia a Coneo, we can't see it but we can quickly reach it by the asphalt road ahead of us. At the bottom of the Hill we take th gravel road to The left, after a stroke Timignano climb we turn left at the beginning of a fence, and we follow the trail that crosses the field, until reaching a cart track that send to the left, to the forest. At the entrance of the forest we turn left and continue right, ignoring the first crossroad turn right, after 200 m turn right, after a short descent to the left, cross the village of Villa San Donato, where we continue straight on asphalt, to cross provincial and continue straight towards the Centre of Quartaia.

At the bottom of the street turn right to Via della Concordia and to the end of the town take the dirt track on the left. We surpass the homes of Fabbrica and we continue downhill towards the Valley, we pass beside an ancient fontanile (unfortunately without water), and arrived in the Valley, we ignore the branching paths and walk along the River on the left. Before a bridge we turn left and after about 100 m and take a dirt track right, partly visible, partly because there are no signs. After a small Ford we go on the left, and shortly after take a dirt road downhill. When we have arrived on the asphalt road, we have two possibilities: If we have the spirit of adventure and the water is low, we can turn right across a bridge, to go towards the ancient medieval Ford; otherwise we continue right for Gracciano. If we chose the ford we continue up to take the cart track that turns left just before commencing a climbs, we surpass the ford, and at the first crossroad turn right, then left to arrive Via Bandiera, the main street of Gracciano. At Gracciano there are no facilities, but we can reach Colle Val d'Elsa, a few hundred metres away.

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