Backpacking,  Camping,  Hiking in Europe,  Hiking in Italy,  Via Francigena

Discovery of Million Year old Shells in the fields of Tuscany, Italy | Day 9 of Via Francigena to Monteriggioni

It was the 9th day of Via Francigena trail when we hiked around 20 kms from the village Quartaia to Monteriggioni.

That night we didn’t sleep very well because of some deers coming to visit us at night and also the sounds they were making. So we felt sleepy all day long then. But fortunately no people had disturbed us there.

At that campsite in the field we have found some curious things – lots and lots of shells big and small ones, some of them were just lying on the ground some built and engraved into rocks. It almost felt like we are at the bottom of the ocean and it was astonishing how well they were conserved after millions of years or maybe it wasn’t so long ago who knows. Nowhere before we haven’t seen so many shells even at the ocean side. That was a wonderful discovery about which we wanted to learn more. So we took one little shell with us as a souvenir of this unusual place and went out on the trail.

The first part was going  through the beautiful oak forest again and we have been enjoying it thoroughly. The weather forecast was promising 37 degrees Celsius for that day and we really hoped that the trail would be as shadowy as possible.

Unfortunately to us after we walked out of the town Gracciano de Elsa the trail started to go more in the sun and through the open fields which was killingly hot. And all that day the weather and the sunny trail weren’t merciful to us at all striking our heads from above. We suffered again from the lack of water sources on the trail and didn’t understand why it was so difficult to make more of the tap water faucets along the way. And sometimes we had to even walk away an extra 800m or km which was unacceptable in such heat.

So this way we got to the village Strove and then to Abbadia Isola having little to no shadow at all. There were lots of vineyards and just empty fields with the rolls of hay on it on the sides of the trail. Also we met quite a lot of pilgrims with backpacks again and we knew that probably all the way to Rome it would be like that as it is a popular part.

Abbadia Isola was an old Monastery with the small rocky buildings and streets and the place itself was very little. There seemed to be an albergue as well but we of course continued forward because as always we planned to wild camp that night.

Then we had to go through quite a steep uphill that fortunately was partly in the forest, partly in the fields. And in the end the way to the castle de Monteriggioni got even steeper and rockier.

At first we thought that it was a usual village but it actually was an old castle that had a rock wall around it and everything was in quite a good condition. It had a small village inside of it consisting of 2 streets, one square and a church. It turned out to be another touristic attraction with a lot of people and lots of small shops and restaurants in it selling ridiculously expensive staff and food. And unfortunately we were unable to find any fresh fruit or veggies in it and the closest supermarket was in 2 kms – that was too far. We just bought two ice creams in the local bar there and that was all. We ate our snack under the olive tree and went out of the castle. We honestly hate this type of places with the crowds of tourists and nothing for the regular people. They could have been nice and cute villages with a lot of history but this fact just turns us away from them.

So we went out of the village, walked a bit more uphill and felt like it was about time to start searching for the camp spot. Because further on the trail we saw that there will be lots of car roads and usually these are not good places to find a camping spot. It was around 14pm and the heat was very strong. We stopped at the water fountain to collect fresh water, wash all the upper body and to wetten our T-Shirts. And it was one of the best feelings ever but unfortunately all clothes were dry in the matter of seconds.

We stretched a bit further along the way on the forest path and have seen no possible camp spots at first with the dense forest on the sides of the trail. Then we turned away from the Via to check out some dirt road going in the forest and there we found a surprisingly flat spot on the meadow between the trees. It wasn’t seen from the road which was the most important and there were no houses close. There was quite a lot of trash laying around which we have no idea how it ended up there, so we had to clean it up a bit. It was still too early to set up a tent so we just put our mats under the shadow of a tree and had been resting there for some time. Even there in the shadow we were really hot and it was hard to breathe.

Then we had our little shower, very modest dinner because we had no vegetables or fruit to freshen it up and went early to sleep. Because we knew that the next day we had to do another 16 kms to the town Siena and the day would be the same hot so we wanted to get up real early and start the day as early as possible.

Here is the link to Google map to follow the hike:

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