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

Discovering the land of old Roman Thermal Baths in Bagno Vignoni | Day 13 of Via Francigena to Castiglioni d’Orcia

It was the day 13 of Via Francigena trail when we hiked around 15 kms from San Quirico d’Orcia to the town Castiglione d’Orcia.

We woke up to another sunny morning in the fields of Tuscany close to the village Quirico d’Orcia. The night was quite calm just in the evening the dogs were barking but then fortunately they were quiet. That night we felt like it was hotter than the previous ones and sleeping with stuffy air was not good. In the morning we saw the baby roe deer coming out of the bushes just beside our tent and before it saw us he was behaving so naturally and was great to observe. We heard them doing their normal noises at night also.

Last night we didn’t notice how we got all bitten up by mosquitos, they were probably very little, and maybe one of them even got inside our tent. And so we were itching all over the body which wasn’t fun at all but we hoped it to go away soon. Also we did not use any repellent for protection because we simply don’t like to use any chemical remedies to put on our skin and wanted to find some natural solution maybe some essential oil or similar.

So we came out on the trail at 9 am (for some reason it was hard for us to get ready earlier) and luckily the Via was passing very close to where we stopped.

All that day long the route was going through the dirt gravel car roads. And it wasn’t that great because when the cars were passing by they were causing lots of the dust and dirt in the air. Some of them who were going too fast would cover us in dust from head to toe. Also the fact that the drivers were treating this road as a normal pavement one wasn’t doing any good.

First part of the trail was going in quite a lot of shadow and all downhill so it was easy and quick to do. And in such way we walked through little village Vignoni Alto and then to Bagno Vignoni. There we saw a reservoir of water in the middle of the square which looked like an old version of the swimming pool. And then we learned that it was the old thermal baths where in old times Romans were taking a bath. It looked quite interesting and unusual to us.

Then we came across the big info board where were stated all of the animals living and flora growing of the region. And we recognized most of the animals there, for example we saw quite a lot of roe deer, snakes, birds, and hares with the exception of the foxes, hawks and hedgehogs. But the real surprise to us was seeing the porcupine mentioned on the board and it would be an event to meet him but it was probably very rare.

Then from Bagno Vignoni we had to do the biggest uphill of the day all the way to the village on top of the hill Castiglioni d’Orcia. We went through the bridge Ponte Peruzzi which looked like a modern bridge but actually was constructed in the years of 1400 and had to be made out of rocks. Unfortunately, it got destroyed some time ago and right now there was a wooden bridge on its place. There was a weight limit of 400kg and it didn’t look solid enough to us with some rotten wooden planks and instability when you step on it.

Uphill to Castiglioni d’Orcia was just 3 kms but wasn’t an easy part to do. As the sun was already high up on the sky and there wasn’t any shadow on the trail it was a challenging task. We were all burnt with the heat and covered in sweat at the time we were up. We had to do even more uphill on the pavement car road leading to the village because we needed to buy little things at the supermarket. The actual Via was passing by it. It was two kms extra both ways.

Castiglioni d’Orcia was an obviously another old village with some half destroyed castle and fortified walls at the very top of the hill. The old part of the village was made out of the sandy bricks and had the usual narrow streets and arches on the streets.

We bought some bread, rice and tomatoes for food and of course ice cream for the snack. Only in Italy we could take the 500gr of ice cream and eat it in one go without feeling bad afterwards. It was all about its creamy consistency and balanced taste, not too sugary. It was with the cherry syrup of course one of our most favorites.

So after having the snack we were back on the trail again to do the last 7 kms for the day. It was mostly downhill with some gentle uphill in the middle. The heat was really getting at us and there were definitely not enough trees for the enjoyable hike at midday. We got to the last water fountain to collect water for shower and food preparation as well as drinking water of course. We literally washed and wetted all our clothes that were on us and this way it was easier to walk at least for several hundred meters.

To find the camp spot we almost got to the Acquasalsa where we had to go down in the fields again and search for quite a while. The forest was lacking here so we really had to work hard to get close to one of the tree lines. There were quite a lot of spiky plants that got all over our feet. At such moments we wished that wild camping would be allowed everywhere with just basic facilities if needed then it would be so much easier to find a spot. That’s definitely a dream world of ours.

That day we got to the camp spot at the earliest hour at around 15pm so we had some time to just chill out in the shadow. Roe deer were accompanying our rest running around but on a quite a big distance of course. We got some on film and we were really glad to be able to observe them and be around them all these days that was really making it special and worth all the efforts. So we had our rest there in the shadow of an oak, had a shower, cooked dinner and after planning the trail for the next day peacefully went to sleep.

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

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