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Lucca to Colle Val d'Elsa - First Walk Ever

Saikiki

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Fall 2019
Hello Everyone!

I have never done a walk before. For my first walk, I want to do the Tuscan Region. I will probably only be able to have 10 days (I'm in the US). I did some research and it seems like the best time of the year is around September as the temperatures should be mild. I don't know if what I'm planning is even realistic for me for the time that I have. I printed out a guide that is an 8 day walk from Lucca to Siena. I am not sure if I want to go all the way down to Siena because of the time and I'm not sure if there are bigger airports close by that I can head out back to the US (I plan to come in thru Pisa). I don't plan on doing a guided tour, it will be more of "self-discovery" trip. Is it possible to be able to sleep in a different town every night? What did you guys bring in your packs? I rather not have luggage sent from town to town but I also need to be realistic as to what I need. Any and all advice will be great as I have no idea what I should expect. Below is the route I intend to make. Thank you!

Fly into Pisa, take train to Lucca:

Lucca
Alto Pacio
San Miniato
Gambassi Terme
San Gimignano
Colle Val d"Elsa (not sure if Monteriggioni is better but I liked the pics of Colle better lol)

Saira
 

kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2012
CP 2015
St Olavs Norway 2016
88T Japan 2017
PWC/VF 2019
Israel 2020 X
Wales CP 21?
KK?
VdlP?
Good on you for planning your first ever walk...if you get the bug (like all of us...), it will be far from your last!
I am currently walking the Via Francigena (I'm in northern France now) & will be in Tuscany by June. My plan for nightly stops in that area is;
Lucca, Galleno, San Miniato, Gambasse Terme, San Gimignano & then Siena (that will be a long day but doable).
As you can see, similar to your plans but taking just six days so easily achieved in your timeframe depending on what type of walker you turn out to be...currently unknown as you're a Newbie! I think you're wise to not to push it with regards to distance. After this trip, you'll have a much better idea of your walking comfort levels & be able to gauge the whole time & distance thing.
Can't help you with flight departure points but others may be able to assist.
As for packing, especially being a first timer, go light as possible; you'll be amazed how little you actually need (as opposed to 'want'). As a guide, my pack is 38 litres; not sure how US packs are sized but equivalent is 10 gallons. I'm away for 4 months, walking in 4 countries during 3 different seasons & my pack weighs 7kg in total (15 pounds).
We all generally learn the hard way & you'll be the same but hopefully it will be trial & not too much error!
Happy planning 🙂
👣 🌏
 

sharon w

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2007
Camino Portugues 2009
Via Podiensis, Camino Frances, Camino Finisterre 2012
Cammino di Assisi 2014
Via Podiensis, Camino del Norte, Camino Frances(Astorga to Santiago) 2015
Aussie Camino 2016
Hello Everyone!

I have never done a walk before. For my first walk, I want to do the Tuscan Region. I will probably only be able to have 10 days (I'm in the US). I did some research and it seems like the best time of the year is around September as the temperatures should be mild. I don't know if what I'm planning is even realistic for me for the time that I have. I printed out a guide that is an 8 day walk from Lucca to Siena. I am not sure if I want to go all the way down to Siena because of the time and I'm not sure if there are bigger airports close by that I can head out back to the US (I plan to come in thru Pisa). I don't plan on doing a guided tour, it will be more of "self-discovery" trip. Is it possible to be able to sleep in a different town every night? What did you guys bring in your packs? I rather not have luggage sent from town to town but I also need to be realistic as to what I need. Any and all advice will be great as I have no idea what I should expect. Below is the route I intend to make. Thank you!

Fly into Pisa, take train to Lucca:

Lucca
Alto Pacio
San Miniato
Gambassi Terme
San Gimignano
Colle Val d"Elsa (not sure if Monteriggioni is better but I liked the pics of Colle better lol)

Saira
We are also walking from Lucca in September. I would allow 2 nights in Lucca to look around before you start walking, especially if you haven’t been there before. Yes, there is accommodation in each of the towns you mentioned.There are apps you can put on your phone with listed accommodation. Also, caminka has a detailed list in the Resource section of this forum.
As the weather should still be warm you won’t need to take a sleeping bag. Just take a sleeping bag liner. There are Facebook sites for the VF. Enjoy your planning.
 

Galloglaigh

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Lycra tribe.
CF (2017/8), VF (2018/9), Old Way (2020), VdT (2020), CP (rebooked) (2021), VnS (ToDo)
not sure if Monteriggioni is better but I liked the pics of Colle better lol
Monteriggioni is tiny and you may be hard pressed to find accomodation. Essentially it is a medieval square surrounded by walls and it gets very, very busy. Siena won't be much different in September.
 

Delphinoula

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C. PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C.Franconia 2019 C.Algeciras Sevillia 2019
Swabian C. (2020)
I simply love Luca. The walk along the walls! With booking .com we had there a holiday flat with kitchen. So you can go to the local market. Or you have a cooking class with Chef Paulo.
Word on caution of Pisa. No driving in certain areas that are not always obvious to the unenitiated. Need to make reservations to go on the Leaning tower. You can do this from the states. To visit churches knees and shoulders must be covered. For lunch go across the river to the student side the pizzerias are more affordable and less a tourist trap. Not realy my best loved city but spent a sundown there on the tower on my birthday. Pisa airport is tiny. Should you be a Vet not far from there is the post.
You still see the via Aurelia and maybe on the way back can follow her into Rome.

Monteriggioni used tho have pilgrim’s accommodation for years I had their flyers in my car. But if it’s still so I don’t know. You could ask the parish and find out.

Trains are very affordable.

The Arno valley is very buissy since a lot of industry is located there.
I walked myself in Vinci with the kids through the olive groves and we got lost there since the way marking if exciting can be confusing and you do not have cell reception everywhere.

San Miniato affords great loutlook and I thing the have. napoleons death mask.

The old Etruscan founded cities are most inland and always on top of the hill.
My favorite is Volterra, but as touristy as many beautiful places there.

54343
San Giminiano . You can overnight ther in a hotel directly across from the market fountain , if you staying somewhere else go get a coffee at least there.
54342

It is funny enough one of the best places to buy you that leather purse. I found prices there less expensive than in Pisa Florence or Siena.

In Siena there is on the corner of the Marketplace a Gelateria. Not when you on the Place but when you go from above towards the Signoria. They have ice cream and a little balcony where you can sit an watch what’s going on Piazza. I think you get your coffe at the Bar and then go if your lucky sit outside.

In case you don’t know this. The least expensive cappuccino you get at the bar with a sweet roll the breakfast. It’s more expensive if you sit down and more if you sit outside.
Pizza from a bakery are sold by weight and not necessary cheep. Best is to let them make you a Sandwich you point at the Salami and then at the bread. Or least expensive make your own.
Street market have the best selection in fruits and are just something to observe.
Where a lot people walk there a pick pockets not far. The police brings many many undercover police forces in but don’t put you valet on your outside pockets.
Make a bow around begging kids they serve as a distraction. So be aware of your surroundings.
Friends went on the sentierelsa a walk through the Elsa valley in spring and according to them it was gorgeous.

In September it’s warm, but bring your rain gear since the Alps are not far from Pisa and wind from the sea bring sudden rain storms. Then it is cooler.
Oh so much fun so much to see wish I was there with you.54344
 
Last edited:

Harington

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Vézelay/Francés 2011, Primitivo 2012, VdlP 2013, Via Domitia 2014, Inglés 2015, Francigena 2016
Hello Everyone!

I have never done a walk before. For my first walk, I want to do the Tuscan Region. I will probably only be able to have 10 days (I'm in the US). I did some research and it seems like the best time of the year is around September as the temperatures should be mild. I don't know if what I'm planning is even realistic for me for the time that I have. I printed out a guide that is an 8 day walk from Lucca to Siena. I am not sure if I want to go all the way down to Siena because of the time and I'm not sure if there are bigger airports close by that I can head out back to the US (I plan to come in thru Pisa). I don't plan on doing a guided tour, it will be more of "self-discovery" trip. Is it possible to be able to sleep in a different town every night? What did you guys bring in your packs? I rather not have luggage sent from town to town but I also need to be realistic as to what I need. Any and all advice will be great as I have no idea what I should expect. Below is the route I intend to make. Thank you!

Fly into Pisa, take train to Lucca:

Lucca
Alto Pacio
San Miniato
Gambassi Terme
San Gimignano
Colle Val d"Elsa (not sure if Monteriggioni is better but I liked the pics of Colle better lol)

Saira
If you are going via Colle Val d'Elsa then you can easily get there in one day from Gambassi Terme. It's a beautiful walk. That means you could also see Monteriggione, which is impressive. Check out accommodation on the EAVF (European Association of the Vie Francigena) and also on www.pilgrimstorome.org.uk. Buon cammino.
 

Saikiki

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Fall 2019
Good on you for planning your first ever walk...if you get the bug (like all of us...), it will be far from your last!
I am currently walking the Via Francigena (I'm in northern France now) & will be in Tuscany by June. My plan for nightly stops in that area is;
Lucca, Galleno, San Miniato, Gambasse Terme, San Gimignano & then Siena (that will be a long day but doable).
As you can see, similar to your plans but taking just six days so easily achieved in your timeframe depending on what type of walker you turn out to be...currently unknown as you're a Newbie! I think you're wise to not to push it with regards to distance. After this trip, you'll have a much better idea of your walking comfort levels & be able to gauge the whole time & distance thing.
Can't help you with flight departure points but others may be able to assist.
As for packing, especially being a first timer, go light as possible; you'll be amazed how little you actually need (as opposed to 'want'). As a guide, my pack is 38 litres; not sure how US packs are sized but equivalent is 10 gallons. I'm away for 4 months, walking in 4 countries during 3 different seasons & my pack weighs 7kg in total (15 pounds).
We all generally learn the hard way & you'll be the same but hopefully it will be trial & not too much error!
Happy planning 🙂
👣🌏
Thanks for letting me know all this information. I've never been a big hiker (always scared of bears lol) but I'm starting to now. That's great that I can stop at all the towns without rushing too much. What are your "needs" for a walk like this? I'm more of a need's person already and I am a no-make up, only need a comb for my hair kind of girl. I was planning on lots of bandages because I'm sure I'll get blisters. I was reading other posts here and they are talking about the Keen brand for hiking boots and hiking shoes. For the walk I'm planning to do, is one better than the other?
 

Saikiki

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Fall 2019
If you are going via Colle Val d'Elsa then you can easily get there in one day from Gambassi Terme. It's a beautiful walk. That means you could also see Monteriggione, which is impressive. Check out accommodation on the EAVF (European Association of the Vie Francigena) and also on www.pilgrimstorome.org.uk. Buon cammino.
From the pictures that I have seen online, the towns all look beautiful, that's how I picked Colle Val d'Elsa over Monteriggione as it just looked more beautiful. Thanks for letting me know about the link. I'm going to check it out now.
 

Delphinoula

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C. PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C.Franconia 2019 C.Algeciras Sevillia 2019
Swabian C. (2020)
There are many useful threads for you with packing list and all. Blisters . Walk you shoes in. Get a good sale person who knows her stuff. Try them out downhill maybe they have a bridge there or steps.
Most likely you need a size up so your toes don’t touch the front. Made .that mistake last Camino.
Stop soon you feel something is not right hot spots and cover them with a bandage before you get the blisters. Start creaming in you feet so they are elastic for the walk .
.You can use Hirschhorntalk a German no friction cream or worked well for me wicks rub. Helps against pain as well. If you have any foot problems go to the specialist and see if you need special inlays.
 

Saikiki

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Fall 2019
We are also walking from Lucca in September. I would allow 2 nights in Lucca to look around before you start walking, especially if you haven’t been there before. Yes, there is accommodation in each of the towns you mentioned.There are apps you can put on your phone with listed accommodation. Also, caminka has a detailed list in the Resource section of this forum.
As the weather should still be warm you won’t need to take a sleeping bag. Just take a sleeping bag liner. There are Facebook sites for the VF. Enjoy your planning.
I was planning on staying in Lucca for one night, but if you think the time that I have is feasible, I have no problem staying there for two days. One question though, if there is accommodation in every town, why would I need a sleeping bag? Is it more like "bring your blanket" kind of thing?
 

Saikiki

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Fall 2019
I simply love Luca. The walk along the walls! With booking .com we had there a holiday flat with kitchen. So you can go to the local market. Or you have a cooking class with Chef Paulo.
Word on caution of Pisa. No driving in certain areas that are not always obvious to the unenitiated. Need to make reservations to go on the Leaning tower. You can do this from the states. To visit churches knees and shoulders must be covered. For lunch go across the river to the student side the pizzerias are more affordable and less a tourist trap. Not realy my best loved city but spent a sundown there on the tower on my birthday. Pisa airport is tiny. Should you be a Vet not far from there is the post.
You still see the via Aurelia and maybe on the way back can follow her into Rome.

Monteriggioni used tho have pilgrim’s accommodation for years I had their flyers in my car. But if it’s still so I don’t know. You could ask the parish and find out.

Trains are very affordable.

The Arno valley is very buissy since a lot of industry is located there.
I walked myself in Vinci with the kids through the olive groves and we got lost there since the way marking if exciting can be confusing and you do not have cell reception everywhere.

San Miniato affords great loutlook and I thing the have. napoleons death mask.

The old Etruscan founded cities are most inland and always on top of the hill.
My favorite is Volterra, but as touristy as many beautiful places there.

View attachment 54343
San Giminiano . You can overnight ther in a hotel directly across from the market fountain , if you staying somewhere else go get a coffee at least there.
View attachment 54342

It is funny enough one of the best places to buy you that leather purse. I found prices there less expensive than in Pisa Florence or Siena.

In Siena there is on the corner of the Marketplace a Gelateria. Not when you on the Place but when you go from above towards the Signoria. They have ice cream and a little balcony where you can sit an watch what’s going on Piazza. I think you get your coffe at the Bar and then go if your lucky sit outside.

In case you don’t know this. The least expensive cappuccino you get at the bar with a sweet roll the breakfast. It’s more expensive if you sit down and more if you sit outside.
Pizza from a bakery are sold by weight and not necessary cheep. Best is to let them make you a Sandwich you point at the Salami and then at the bread. Or least expensive make your own.
Street market have the best selection in fruits and are just something to observe.
Where a lot people walk there a pick pockets not far. The police brings many many undercover police forces in but don’t put you valet on your outside pockets.
Make a bow around begging kids they serve as a distraction. So be aware of your surroundings.
Friends went on the sentierelsa a walk through the Elsa valley in spring and according to them it was gorgeous.

In September it’s warm, but bring your rain gear since the Alps are not far from Pisa and wind from the sea bring sudden rain storms. Then it is cooler.
Oh so much fun so much to see wish I was there with you.View attachment 54344
Thanks for all that information!!! I wish I had my tickets booked already but I want to do as much research as possible before booking them. The pictures look great!!!! I was thinking about safety a bit of it because I'll be doing this alone. I asked my sister if she wanted to come but she said no...lol...I was planning on carrying my back pack and things in front of me vs carrying my back pack, well on my back as I didn't want anybody opening up zippers without me noticing. I think the weather shouldn't interfere that much as I'm planning to take the train to Lucca as soon as I land in Pisa. I'm going to look up all those towns as soon as I'm done writing...
 

Saikiki

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Fall 2019
If you are going via Colle Val d'Elsa then you can easily get there in one day from Gambassi Terme. It's a beautiful walk. That means you could also see Monteriggione, which is impressive. Check out accommodation on the EAVF (European Association of the Vie Francigena) and also on www.pilgrimstorome.org.uk. Buon cammino.
So then it's feasible that I can stay overnight in Colle Val d'Elsa and walk to Monteriggione and then take the taxi/bus/train to Florence? I was thinking of heading back from there because it seems closer than going back to Pisa.
 

Saikiki

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Fall 2019
There are many useful threads for you with packing list and all. Blisters . Walk you shoes in. Get a good sale person who knows her stuff. Try them out downhill maybe they have a bridge there or steps.
Most likely you need a size up so your toes don’t touch the front. Made .that mistake last Camino.
Stop soon you feel something is not right hot spots and cover them with a bandage before you get the blisters. Start creaming in you feet so they are elastic for the walk .
.You can use Hirschhorntalk a German no friction cream or worked well for me wicks rub. Helps against pain as well. If you have any foot problems go to the specialist and see if you need special inlays.
Thanks for letting me know - I would not have known about putting lotion on my feet as part of the prep!
 

Delphinoula

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C. PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C.Franconia 2019 C.Algeciras Sevillia 2019
Swabian C. (2020)
In Pisa airport your can use a bus or a train at the end of the building. Some of the trains starting at airport and go with a stop over in Pisa train station directly to Lucca. You get the tickets there at the airport. From Monteriggione I don’t remember a train near but Badesse about 6 km away by foot has a train station.
If you like mysteries read Magdalen Nabb for Florence, Donna Leon for Venice, Dibdin for Bologna and Camilieri for Sicily. 📖
 

kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2012
CP 2015
St Olavs Norway 2016
88T Japan 2017
PWC/VF 2019
Israel 2020 X
Wales CP 21?
KK?
VdlP?
Thanks for letting me know all this information. I've never been a big hiker (always scared of bears lol) but I'm starting to now. That's great that I can stop at all the towns without rushing too much. What are your "needs" for a walk like this? I'm more of a need's person already and I am a no-make up, only need a comb for my hair kind of girl. I was planning on lots of bandages because I'm sure I'll get blisters. I was reading other posts here and they are talking about the Keen brand for hiking boots and hiking shoes. For the walk I'm planning to do, is one better than the other?
Walking is a great way to 'liberate' yourself from being conscious of your appearance...its not a glamour activity! You can let go of how we're required to look at home eg for work; hair, make-up, clothes etc which is very freeing.
I work on the 'one on your back, one in your pack' principal when deciding what to take for clothing. I also carry a 1st aid kit, a repair kit, tech requirements & travel umbrella (for rain & sun protection).
Can't comment on Keen footwear but I am definately a 'shoe' walker not boots...& that applies whatever the terrain. I only wear Salomon; I know & trust them to the point I can buy online & I don't need to break them in. Getting the correct size is paramount; for walking trips, I go 1.5 sizes larger than my 'normal' footwear. I'm not recommending the 'buy online without trying on' or 'don't break shoes in'...especially for the inexperienced, but I know what I'm doing & what works for me. I'm currently on Day 16 of the VF...no foot/shoe issues at all. I also had no foot issues 640km through Norway & 1400km in Japan...not a single bandaid used! Salomon has proved heaven-sent for me.
As I said before, trial & error is how we learn; first time out, you will make mistakes..it's just part of it. Embrace it all!
👣 🌏
 

sharon w

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2007
Camino Portugues 2009
Via Podiensis, Camino Frances, Camino Finisterre 2012
Cammino di Assisi 2014
Via Podiensis, Camino del Norte, Camino Frances(Astorga to Santiago) 2015
Aussie Camino 2016
I was planning on staying in Lucca for one night, but if you think the time that I have is feasible, I have no problem staying there for two days. One question though, if there is accommodation in every town, why would I need a sleeping bag? Is it more like "bring your blanket" kind of thing?
The accommodation can be in Ostellos or monasteries, hostels or hotels. If it is in the first 3 they don’t usually provide sheets or towels. Sometimes, they will at a price.
 

bobbogram

Member
Camino(s) past & future
El Norte San Sebastián to Santiago; Portuguese Lisbon to Porto; Porto to Santiago; Geneva west
There are lots of resources available for equipment, lodging, clothing, busiest periods of the year, and safety and are all worth researching. Here are some basics I’ve learned from the last five years:
Don’t go crazy “practicing” at home, possibly getting discouraged, but some conditioning is warranted. Remember, it’s just walking.
My first Camino was El Norte, 800 miles across N Spain in Keen hiking shoes, but have Salomon shoes now. After walking around for a month, I went back and got a size larger for comfort and anticipated swelling.
Get long sleeve shirts and pants you can wash and will dry out overnight. Sunburn, scratches from underbrush, and blisters can be a curse. Pants that unzip the lower section provide shorts if desired.
Two walking poles reduce 20 % of the weight on your legs and might help you avoid a fall downhill or into a stream while walking across on the rocks. They are also a potential defense from an occasional dog.
Both Google Maps and MAPS.ME are Apps on my iPhone which provide walking paths, distance and elevations along your route. Being downloadable at home or B&Bs or eating establishments, you won’t need Internet service in the wilderness to reconstruct a route if you stray off the path.
You won’t be on the dark side of the moon - there will be opportunities to purchase the basics along the way.
If you don’t trim your toenails back, they can jam into the front of your shoe.
Well, the toenails on my big toes have almost grown back after last year on the Camino in Portugal, Spain, and France, so it must be time for another Camino.
Your transition from “What am I doing” to “Why didn’t I start doing this years ago” is just ahead. Have a great adventure.
 

Jbirk

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, SJPP to Finesterre April (2018)
Via Francigena Sept (2018)
Del Norte Aug (2019)
We walked Lucca to Rome in October. We stayed in every town on your list and had no issues using Booking.com. If this is your first walk be cautious of the parts that are on the highway. It can get very dangerous if you wander into a lane of traffic
 

Jbirk

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, SJPP to Finesterre April (2018)
Via Francigena Sept (2018)
Del Norte Aug (2019)
Check out Altra brand shoes. My wife and I went almost 2000km last year and were blister free using Altra Lone Peaks
 

cbacino

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte - Primitivo (2018)
Via Francigena (2017)
Appalachian Trail (2016)
Hello Everyone!

I have never done a walk before. For my first walk, I want to do the Tuscan Region. I will probably only be able to have 10 days (I'm in the US). I did some research and it seems like the best time of the year is around September as the temperatures should be mild. I don't know if what I'm planning is even realistic for me for the time that I have. I printed out a guide that is an 8 day walk from Lucca to Siena. I am not sure if I want to go all the way down to Siena because of the time and I'm not sure if there are bigger airports close by that I can head out back to the US (I plan to come in thru Pisa). I don't plan on doing a guided tour, it will be more of "self-discovery" trip. Is it possible to be able to sleep in a different town every night? What did you guys bring in your packs? I rather not have luggage sent from town to town but I also need to be realistic as to what I need. Any and all advice will be great as I have no idea what I should expect. Below is the route I intend to make. Thank you!

Fly into Pisa, take train to Lucca:

Lucca
Alto Pacio
San Miniato
Gambassi Terme
San Gimignano
Colle Val d"Elsa (not sure if Monteriggioni is better but I liked the pics of Colle better lol)

Saira
Lucca to Altopascio is the worst part of the walk (gross highway) in Tuscany. Don't get discouraged by it. You can always take the train to Altopascio from Lucca. If you stop in San Miniato, go to Alto, not the Misericordia in Basso. Alto has a beautiful new hostel run by the town. I love Gambassi, not touristy. The walk from there to San Gimignano is only 8 miles. San Gimignano is the ultimate tourist trap in Tuscany, but many love it that way. The Forestiera of the Monastery of San Gimignano in the northeast corner of town; a bit of the old SG. The old nun that registers pilgrims is a hoot. Colle vs Monteriggioni: toss up. Colle is larger. If you don't want to walk all the way to Siena, you can catch the train back to Pisa (easy transfer in Empoli) at Castellino in Chianti, about an hour walk (nice path) north of Monteriggioni. Have fun.
 

moromauro

moromauro
Camino(s) past & future
May 2019: Camino catalàn + aragonès + frances till Burgos
2020: Camino portuguès from Lisbon (after
Hello Everyone!

I have never done a walk before. For my first walk, I want to do the Tuscan Region. I will probably only be able to have 10 days (I'm in the US). I did some research and it seems like the best time of the year is around September as the temperatures should be mild. I don't know if what I'm planning is even realistic for me for the time that I have. I printed out a guide that is an 8 day walk from Lucca to Siena. I am not sure if I want to go all the way down to Siena because of the time and I'm not sure if there are bigger airports close by that I can head out back to the US (I plan to come in thru Pisa). I don't plan on doing a guided tour, it will be more of "self-discovery" trip. Is it possible to be able to sleep in a different town every night? What did you guys bring in your packs? I rather not have luggage sent from town to town but I also need to be realistic as to what I need. Any and all advice will be great as I have no idea what I should expect. Below is the route I intend to make. Thank you!

Fly into Pisa, take train to Lucca:

Lucca
Alto Pacio
San Miniato
Gambassi Terme
San Gimignano
Colle Val d"Elsa (not sure if Monteriggioni is better but I liked the pics of Colle better lol)

Saira
Lucca is actually wonderful but the stage to Altopascio is rather ugly, going across a flat and very populated and industrialized area (i live 5 kms. from Altopascio and know very well this area and the itinerary of the Via Francigena).
If you sleep in Lucca in order to visit the town (it's well worth!) you could consider to take a train to Altopascio early in the following morning (just a 10/15 min. trip by train) and start from there your walk; the train station of Altopascio is just by the itinerary of Via Francigena at the enter of the small city.
The first train in the morning leaves Lucca at 5,05' (monday to saturday) or at 6,54' (on sunday) and there are one or two train each hour on that line, so you can easily start your walk from Altopascio early in the morning, if you like, despite having slept in Lucca.

If you do it, you could end your trip in Siena (the endpoint of the stage starting from Monteriggioni), which is another astonishing town and where you can be welcomed by suor Ginetta, a milestone of Via Francigena who welcomes pilgrims and hikers of Via Francigena (despite their religion: i'm agnostic myself!) in a convent of nun in the very centre of Siena.

A hint about Colle Val d'Elsa: starting the stage from San Gimignano, you can also walk across Colle Val d'Elsa and get to Monteriggioni in the same day... i did it that way when i walked the Via Francigena in 2010 and it's absolutely doable.
 
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