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Siena to Rome - June/July 2018

Camino(s) past & future
Many more in the future (hopefully)
#1
It has been almost 3 weeks since a friend and I finished the Siena to Rome section of the Via Francigena, so I thought I would post some comments on it before it all recedes into the past. We walked it from June 18-July 2, 15 days of walking to cover about 275 kms. Overall, I would say it was an outstanding walk: great scenery, lovely towns, wonderful food and wine, etc. So if there is anyone out there thinking about it, I would highly recommend it.

1. Stages

My friend was coming off of heart bypass surgery last year, so we booked through a tour company that had fairly short stages and provided luggage transfer (and reasonably comfortable hotels). As a result, our stages were as follows (along with approximate distances and accommodation):

1. Siena (Minerva Siena)
2. Lucignano d’Arbia 18 kms (Borgo Antico)
3. Buonconvento 13 kms (Ghibellino)
4. San Quirico d’Orcia 21kms (Cera Una Volta)
5. Gallina 17 kms (Agriturismo Passalaqua)
6. Radicofani 15kms (Albergo La Torre)
7. Ponte da Rigo 10kms (Albergo La Torre)
8. Aquapendente 14 kms (Toscana)
9. Bolsena 22 kms (Hotel Royal Bolsena)
10. Montefiascone 18 kms (Hotel Urbano V)
11. Viterbo 18 kms (Tuscia Hotel)
12. Vetralla 18 kms (Antica Locanda della via Francigena)
13. Sutri 24 kms (Agriturismo Montefosco)
14. Campagnano di Roma 24 kms (Da Righetto)
15. Isola Farnese 23 kms (Hotel Tempio di Apollo)
16. Rome 20 kms (Hotel Trastevere)

None of the accommodation would be classified as "budget", so I cannot help out much there. However, an American family we met made the comment that albergue-type accommodation was harder to find in the sections in northern Italy, but they were not having an difficulties in the more southern regions.

If anyone is looking to splurge, I would suggest Agriturismo Passalaqua, which is just outside Gallina. It is right on the trail and sits on an isolated hilltop with fantastic views all around. We had a full suite (kitchen, dining area, living room area, two bedrooms and bathroom) which was far more than we needed. They served us both dinner and breakfast outside on the picnic table overlooking the valley below. Fabulous!

If anyone is looking for a rest day, the Hotel Royal Bolsena should be considered.

2. The Route

I was not taking notes or being completely attentive to this, but a very rough estimate would be that the trail was about 40% paved road, 40% dirt/gravel road, and 20% dirt paths. In some places a paved road turned into a dirt road and then back again. For the most part the paved roads were not a problem, with very little traffic. There were one or two short sections on busy roads (Isola d'Arbia), and one longer section of about 10 kms on a busy road that was fairly unpleasant. The longer section runs from Ponte da Rigo to the turnoff for Acquapendente, so if you are going to skip a short section, that would be the one.

Although there are no huge climbs, very little of the route is flat, so there are constant ups and downs. You will get great views, but you will have to work for them. The sections in Tuscany are particularly beautiful, with fields of golden hay interspersed with fields of green grass, vineyards and olive groves. Most of the towns are perched on on hilltops, so expect a number of climbs at the end of the day, some long, some short and some steep. I was happy to have short stages.

If you do not pay attention to anything else I say here, please take note of this: On the final day into Rome, after leaving La Storta, about 20 kms from Rome, you walk 1.5-2 hours down a busy, main road. It is not that scenic, but at least there are sidewalks on one side or the other, so it is not overly dangerous. Eventually you will turn right off the road, go down a hill, and enter a park. The path then leads into some bushes. The path at this point is very overgrown with thorny, prickly, nasty things that eventually ripped my pants, ripped my shirt and scratched my arms until they were both bleeding in a number of spots. I was so focused on beating my way through these bushes, that I did not realize until it was far too late that there was a field on the other side of the bushes. So if you are going this way, get into that field as quickly as possible and walk alongside the edge of the bush. You will eventually end up where the path emerges from this killer bush.

There seems to be some confusion around the distance between Radicofani and Acquapendente. I had been led to believe that this section was 32 kms, so we opted to break it into two shorter stages. Despite having this confirmed on an information board on the trail itself, the actual distance as the route currently stands is about 24 kms. My guess is that the trail has had to be re-routed onto the main road for some reason, and there is therefore the 10 km section on the busy road referred to above.

3. Signage

The signage is excellent. We had downloaded the GPS track onto our phones, but we rarely had to use it. In addition to the big brown and white signs, there are a large number of white and red markers that make it very difficult to get lost. I owe a number of people a huge thanks for the efforts they have put in to mark the trail.

The first place we ran into a bit of trouble was in the large-ish city of Viterbo. I blame myself for this, as I listened to my friend when he said he knew exactly where to go. He obviously did not, so we walked around and saw a lot more of Viterbo than we otherwise would have.

The only other place we had some difficulty was in Rome itself. We seemed to wander around various trails on Monte Mario (?) for a long time before finding the fabulous viewpoint with the view down into central Rome.

4. People

Over the course of the 15 days we were walking, we met very few other walkers. There was an American couple that were ending their one-week camino in Buonconvento; two young French ladies on their way to Assissi; a solo Belgian walker; an American family of four; and an Italian doctor. We also met an Australian cycling the route. That was it. With the exception of Siena and Rome, the towns and hotels seemed pretty empty except for the locals.

5. Animals

There was almost no livestock along this entire section. A few sheep and an even less number of cattle were seen, but at no time were we in an open field with them.

There were a lot of barking dogs, but with one exception they were well contained behind fences or tied up. The one exception occurred on the way to Sutri, where one farm had left its gates open. My friend was about 30 metres ahead of me, and as he walked past, a large white dog and a small yappy dog came running out. My friend focused on the large dog, which did not actually pose much of a threat, but as usual it is the smaller dogs that you need to watch out for. As soon as he had turned his back, the little one ran up and nipped him from behind. There was no blood and the skin was not broken, so it was not serious. From my perspective is was actually somewhat comical.

We also saw a family of wild boars running through a field on the first day. It looked like two adults and 6-7 young ones.

So that is about it for now. At the risk of repeating myself, I thought this was a wonderful route and would highly recommend it. As I walked the opening section of the VF last summer (from Canterbury to Arras) I now only have another 1700 kms or so to finish it up.
 

Stripey Socks

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
Camino Via de la Plata (2014)
Camino Portuguese (May 2016)
Via Francigena (August 2018)
#2
Thanks so much for all the information you have provided. I set off in just over two weeks - leaving from Great Saint Bernard Pass. Your info and updates are very handy. All the best, Mel
 
Camino(s) past & future
Portugese (2012) frances (2013 &2014) Via de la Plata(2015)
#3
Thankyou so much ,this is really helpful information as I start Lucca to Rome end August. God Bless Margaret
 

jl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances('05, '07), Aragonese ('05), del Norte / Primitivo ('09), Via Tolosana (Toulouse '05), Via Podiensis (Le Puy '07), Via Lemovicensis (Troyes '09), VF ('12), Winter Camino ('13/'14) Cammino d'Assisi ('14) Jakobseweg (Leipzig - Paris '15) San Salvador/Norte ('15) Ignaciano ('16) Invierno ('16)
#4
Near Radicofani the priest gave all the pilgrims (a scout troop were on the road for a few days) a lecture about never apporaching the sheep if we saw any. Comng from Aust. I was trying to figure out what made Itaian sheep more dangerous than Australian ones. The scout leader, seeing my puzzled look, whipered to me that "it is the dogs". Indeed several other people warned of the dogs in this region. All is fine if you are doing what you are meant to do, which is keep walking past, but if you stop to investigate then you may be in trouble. I walked past one flock of sheep and didnt' realise it untl, at the bottom of the hill I looked back and saw them grazing in the paddock next to the road.
 

kmrice

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago - Fisterra 2008
St. Jean Pied de Port - Santiago 2013
#5
Thanks for the great post. I'm thinking of doing this walk in September. Can anyone suggest a good source for maps of Siena - Rome? Are there GPS tracks available?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Many more in the future (hopefully)
#6
The GPS track that we used was from the link below. They claim to be the official app for the VF. Just a quick note of caution: Both my friend and I had downloaded this to our phones. My friend had no problems, as it worked every time. Mine only worked about 33% of the time. For the rest of the time the app would open and then automatically close down after 2-3 seconds. So you might want to have a backup plan in case you experience the same thing. Maybe it was just my phone.

https://www.viefrancigene.org/en/app/
 

kmrice

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago - Fisterra 2008
St. Jean Pied de Port - Santiago 2013
#7
Thanks so much! Does anyone know where the GPS tracks themselves can be found for loading into another app?
 

konnie

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF; Le Puy; El Norte; Monastery Santo Toribio; Monasteries Yuso and Suso
#9
I too appreciate you post, Doogman. I hope to walk in October. An app that was mentioned on another post on this forum is pocket earth. It looks helpful. I am thinking of starting in Pavia. Since I only have 3 weeks, I'll have to skip over some parts. But thats ok .
 

Anna Sar

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese Central x 3, Portuguese Litoral, Finisterra, Primitivo, San Salvador, Cammino di Assisi
#11
Thank you Doogman for such a compact summary of the way. I have already my plane tickets bought to Bologna for 9th of September but I am still debating which way I should choose. Last year I was walking Cammino di Assisi from Dovadola. It was wonderful experience. This year I would like to continue from Assisi to Rome. That was my idea from the beginning until after some researches done I realized how expensive it could be in terms of accommodation. And lonely, for the same reason. So I had a closer look at Via Francigena and currently I am more and more convinced to walk from Siena. Yet I would miss few highlights of Cammino di Francesco like Romita di Cesi or Marmore waterfalls. Bit torn.... I would be very grateful for any tips from your experience dear fellow pilgrims. I have to choose myself but it would be great to have some of your personal views. Thank you.
 

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