It was the final day 14 of our Via Francigena trail when we hiked around 17 kms from Castiglione d’Orcia to the town Radicofani.
That day we had the first rainy morning in the whole hike. At around 5am in the morning we heard the little drops of rain bouncing of our tent and it gradually became stronger. It was a good sign that the day could be a little bit cooler and we can walk easier. After yesterday’s very hot day and no shadow on the trail we were about to quit the hike and call it done. But in such weather conditions we had a chance.
The roe deer were all around us and we saw and heard them a lot on this field. We would have been happy to stay there to be able to observe them for more time but we needed to go and we didn’t have enough food supplies.
The rain stopped at the very moment we finished eating and the sun started to shine so we tried to gather all the things as quickly as possible to be able to hike the most distance in the first half of the day.
Our plan was quite big that day – to do 17 kms of a constant uphill to the village Radicofani. That was probably going to be the longest and most challenging day of the hike. We did feel a bit tired from the last hot days already but hoped this day would be an exception.
Right from the start we had to conquer a very steep uphill in order to get back on the Via Francigena because yesterday we really got deep down in the fields. So the warm up for the day was excellent.
The first part of the trail was surprisingly going mostly downhill counting little ups and downs with the hilly landscape of course. There we spotted a little baby hare running across the field and then across the trail so we could get some nice close-ups of him. The animals are always the brightest highlights of any trail that we do, they are our most favorite subject to shoot and photograph. And here in the places with so little forest it was a miracle that we were still meeting some animals.
Then we got down to the highway road and walked some time alongside of it. It was mostly flat and going close to the little clear river where there were some deeper places with the possibility to swim. All of the part before the uphill was going partly in the shadow and thus was quite easy and fast to do.
We met the most amount of pilgrims that day probably around 10 when normally we meet 1 or 2 people only. And we noticed this tendency that closer we got to the Rome more people we met. Probably many people like the fact that you can get to Rome by feet and choose to walk only this 200 or 150 km part.
Then after walking half of the distance planned, we felt like having a break. And while we were chilling out and having a snack on one of the fields the weather started to change. The wind started to blow stronger and some clouds covered the sky which was a blessing really about which we couldn’t even dream. In the middle of the day to get some clouds and fresh wind is the best thing could ever happened to us. Our prayers were heard.
The trail was constantly going uphill but quite gently and the last 6 kms we had to conquer 350 meters of an uphill. First it was going in between the fields on a dirt road with no traffic and then it came out to the normal road where there was a sidewalk for pedestrians luckily.
At this part we started to get some panoramic views over the surrounding fields and hills as we were getting higher and also the view of the old towers and castle of the village Radicofani.
The last few kms of the trail when we turned away from the car road were the most picturesque. It was going mostly on the rocky bricked old pilgrim way and we had the constant views of the village towers in front of us. On such parts you feel like you’re going back in time and can at least try to imagine yourself how it all was several hundred years ago. The fresh wind was our friend all the way to the village.
When we entered the town we saw a big rock fall going down the hill and on the info board it was stated that the hill where the village is located is of the ancient volcanic origin together with the rocks. It was an astonishing fact to learn.
Then we continued walking into the village, saw a really old small church and all of the buildings there were made of this dark sometimes black rocks which was looking quite unusual.
We washed our faces at the water fountain, spend some time in the park and headed to check whether the supermarket is open. Unfortunately as in most of the small villages it was on a mid-day break and was opening only at 16.30pm which was the latest time we’ve seen on the way. We still needed to buy some fresh veggies so had to wait for another hour for it to open.
Then looking around we were concerned about not finding a flat spot to camp or getting too far from the village as we already had no powers. The village was situated right on top of the hill and all of the routes from it were going down the steep hills. We chose the route that seemed to go fairly flat and hoped that there will be some quiet fields to stop.
We walked only for about km or so out of the village and were able to find a nice spot in between the fields protected by the tree line from both sides. The wind started to blow more fiercely and we had to set up a tent right away at 18 pm when we just got at the place. We cooked dinner there and were good to rest. We fell asleep almost right away because we were quite exhausted by this full of impressions day.
At this point we decided to finish the Via Francigena. We did the planned distance of 120 kms and hiked all of the province of Tuscany as we wanted to. We enjoyed a lot walking through the old forest paths, meeting some wildlife on the way and discovering historical castles and little towns. Of course the hot weather was exhausting us a lot and made it more difficult but we enjoyed it anyway. In the next post we will be sharing our full impressions and detailed information about the Via Francigena trail we did so do not miss this out.