(** This post and all that follow are synopses of the full blogs found on and linked to the Cultural Routes - Blogging Europe website. I hope you'll find your way there and enjoy my tales and photos from this amazing adventure in Tuscany!)
23 May - Afternoon:
The journey continues after our hike on the Via Francigena from Abbadia Isola to Monteriggioni (see June 11, 2014 post)
Winding things up in delightfully medieval Monteriggioni, our Cultural Routes - Blogging Europe entourage feasted on a fine array of the best of Tuscany at a wonderful local trattoria by the name of Il Ceppo. I won't go into great depth here as it's all laid out in my newest EICR blog post blog.culture-routes.net/the-splendors-of-siena-and-the-end-of-our-journey/"The Splendors of Siena - and the End of Our Journey" -- but suffice to say, it was INCREDIBLE!
The next segment of this final day as a team took us to the ancient north gate, the Porto Camollia, of the enchanted town adored by so many...Siena. The entry portal to untold numbers of pilgrims over the ages, we stepped through as modern day pilgrims, ready to discover so much about the history and influence of the Via Francigena in this magnificent Tuscan town.
Follow along as we retrace the steps of the pellegrini on this urban section of the Via Francigena, then conclude with a fitting rustic meal at Orta de' Pecci, not only a fine, rustic trattoria, but also a spot entangled in dark history, yet holding an incredible modern twist of renewal and redemption.
(Full story via link above)
Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive,
and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born. ~ Anaïs Nin
As with everything in our mortal walk, there is a beginning...and there is an ending. And the evening of our time in Siena marked the culmination of four and half incredible, insightful, enriching, memory-making, intriguing days to remember.
But maybe more importantly, it also marked the beginning of new friendships, that human element that is such the gift.
I ponder sometimes at the beautiful notion of the friends I have that I've just not yet met. And this bloggers tour was one of those instances, but multiplied by 9 or more! How blessed I am to have serendipitously encountered this fun, intelligent, soulful, and wonderful group that "lived together" for those 4.5 days.
My desire, of course, is that we will see each again somehow, some way. And that could well happen. But it might not. However, that doesn't diminish, in my opinion, the beauty of the friendship, no matter how brief or how long. The interaction shared forever changes and molds and betters. Yes, such a gift.
Left to right/top to bottom:
Marlys Schuermann, me, Raffaela Caria, Michael Schuermann, Eleonora Berti, Grazia Grimaldi, Luca Bruschi, favorite pilgrim
Favorite Knight, Valentina Meloni, Costanza Giovannini, Mario Mele
Just when I thought it couldn't get any better... throw in yet another incredible, breath-taking, amazing experience - by bike!
The second half of 23 May found our EICR bloggers' tour troupe saddling up (well, at least 5 of us!) for an almost 25 km ride on the Via Francigena from San Gimignano into Colle di Val'delsa. It was challenging, fun, exhausting, wonderful, and an experience I feel SO fortunate to have had! We also had two amazing guides, Manuel and Ingo, who kept us from killing ourselves, so we'll check that off as a "plus".
The full story is now up on the official EICR website.
You'll also read of our stay at an beautifully restored ospedale , or way station for pilgrims along the Via Francigena, that is now a top-knotch resort called Relais La Costa. Tucked peacefully into the Tuscan countryside, its charms are many!
So come along and enjoy the ride with me...andiamo, y'all!
**And now for the tease: Next post - follow me as we trek the Via Francigena from Abbia di Isola to Monteriggioni; and oh, the characters we'll meet!
I've just posted my latest bloggers' tour post from 22 - 23 May featuring an ages-old Friars' village and San Gimignano!
As our European Institute of Cultural Routes/Council of Europe "Thermal Spa Towns and the Via Francigena" bloggers tour continued, we found ourselves on the road for the beloved Tuscan hill town of San Gimignano. Famous for its remaining 17 towers and strategically situated on the Via Francigena, this charming town is full of hidden gems awaiting your discovery!
As our tour focused more on the Via Francigena (see earlier post for some history on that), I had another dream-come-true experience staying overnight in an ancient borgo, or village, that was given to St. Augustine Friars in the 900's and served pilgrims and travelers along the Via Francigena! It was a hauntingly beautiful place.
Read the full blog on the official Cultural Routes webpage, but in the meantime enjoy a few more photos from the first part of this exciting day!
Crossing Routes – Blogging Europe is an initiative of the Council of Europe Cultural Routes Programme and the European Institute of Cultural Routes, in the framework of the Council of Europe‐European Commission joint programme on European Cultural Routes (2013 2014). The initiative is carried out in co‐operation with the European Route of Historic Thermal Towns and the old pilgrimage route of the Via Francigena in partnership with Fondazione Sistema Toscana, regional tourism board of Tuscany and local and regional partners.
The groups of bloggers, photographers and videographers will explore the region of Tuscany in Italy from 21 to 25 May 2014, experiencing the atmosphere of the XIXth‐century thermal towns along the European Route of Historic Thermal Towns: Montecatini, Monsummano and walking along the ancient pilgrimage route of the Via Francigena – San Gimignano, Montereggioni, Colle Val d’Elsa and Siena. On their way, the bloggers will reveal the essence of Tuscany to visitors in a novel way.
The group of five bloggers have been asked to share their impressions and experiences along these routes, connecting the cultural, spiritual and historical heritage of Tuscany and its communities and landscapes, taking photos and diary notes, making videos and writing articles as they travel, to create lively, inspiring chronicles of their trips on the Crossing Routes – Blogging Europe platform:
taken from http://blog.culture‐routes.lu/
Paula A. Reynolds
Traveler or Tourist?