Day 30 of our Via Francigena pilgrimage took us from San Gimignano to Colle di Val d’Elsa. Distance: 10.3 miles. Weather: sunny, temperature mid-80s.
San Gimignano was besieged by throngs of tourists yesterday. However, this morning I was absolutely enamored with the architecture of the old medieval town. With the bulk of visitors still in bed, we could wander freely without fear of pickpockets or of photobombing another’s pictures. We could revel in San Gimignano’s beauty and appreciate what a grand site it must have been during its heyday.
Mornings (between 7-11 a.m) tend to be my favorite part of the day.
Today’s walk to Colle di Val d’Elsa was very well-marked. The route took us alongside meadows and vineyards. I’m in utter awe over just how magnificent this Tuscan land is.
The closer we get to Rome, the more frequent the signposts. In any case, I’m not having to consult the App as often to verify that we’re on track.
This Pilgrim Life
I think it’s fascinating how we all tackle life on pilgrimage. I’m amazed at how serious Dad is about collecting stamps for his Pilgrim Passport. I can’t decide whether he views them as a memento of where he’s been, whether it’s the thrill of interaction, or whether he views earning them as a worthy challenge.
In any case, he is not shy about asking around. Every so often, we’ll hear a triumphant:
“Get your (pilgrim) passports out! I found a place.”
After a month on the road, it’s clear people have many reasons for hiking the Via Francigena. Many have completed previous pilgrimages (most often to Spain), and enjoy the feeling of camaraderie. Hence, they keep tackling new pilgrimages. There is something very addictive about this way of life. Every day is different.
A few I’ve spoken to go on pilgrimage to combat loneliness and depression.
One of the most interesting responses I’ve heard comes from a fellow American, who confided that he actually HATES walking. However, after years of taking medication for diabetes, he followed his doctor’s advice to walk more. The constant exercise he got on his first pilgrimage was so effective that he was able to cut off his diabetes medication entirely. Hence, he goes on a pilgrimage every year.
I’m personally of the mindset that pilgrimages are good for your all aspects of health. It’s good for the body, mind, and soul.
Arrival in Colle di Val d’Elsa
Colle di Val d’Elsa is known as Italy’s “City of Crystal”. An estimated 95% of Italian crystal comes from this town, which first began crafting it in 1300. There’s a crystal museum is dedicated to celebrating the art, but we arrived too late in the day to visit.
I’m curious about the city’s branding on two accounts. Firstly, I associate Italy with color, not transparency. Venetian glass is famous for its rich hues. Secondly, we have only just visited Avenza – a city so proud of its marble that it prominently displayed on public sidewalks, curbs, bridges, sculptures, etc.
I thought Colle di Val d’Elsa charming and lovely. But if it hadn’t been for the signs and brochures, I’d have no clue that this was a “City of Crystal”.
We’re staying the night at a 1-bedroom apartment. I think we are all happy we split the segment from San Gimignano to Monteriggioni and stopped here. Colle di Val d’Elsa has a quiet, friendly, unpretentious air to it. I can definitely see this town appealing to those who love medieval architecture and cuisine, and who find San Gimignano to be too touristy. We napped and watched Colombo and Get Smart in Italian. Mom cooked a scrumptious pasta dinner with zucchini and garlic.
It was a nice, relaxed night in.
Tomorrow, we’re off to Monteriggioni!
Breakfast: Supermarket snack
Lodging (per person): €32