Headwater - Volterra to San Gimignano Self-Guided Walk Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Self-Guided
Destinations:
Italy
Programmes:
Walking & Trekking
Trip Code:
W08TY
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
Leisurely / Moderate

You are reasonably fit, enjoy the outdoors and are looking for some exercise. Some previous experience is preferable for activity based trips.

9 Days Flight Inclusive
9 Days Land only
Min age: 8

Trip Overview

On this self-guided, 8-night walking holiday, you explore the timeless countryside between picturesque Volterra and the soaring towers of San Gimignano. You'll feel as though you're strolling through history as you discover sleepy hilltop hamlets crowning sun-dappled hills, verdant vineyards and panoramic picnic spots in fields ablaze with sunflowers. You also have the option to visit the eternal cities of Siena and Florence - Tuscan favourites right on your doorstep!

At a Glance

  • 8 nights hotel-to-hotel accommodation
  • 4 Days walking
  • All continental breakfasts and 6 evening meals
  • Services of your local representative
  • Wine Collection Service 
  • Route directions and maps 
  • Luggage transfers between hotels 
  • Walking transfers
  • Countries visited: Italy

Trip Highlights

  • Quintessential Italian landscapes: rolling hills, sunflowers, endless vines and hilltop hamlets
  • Scenic walking on Etruscan trails and pilgrims' paths; wildlife in abundance
  • Exceptionally friendly hotels with gorgeous swimming pools
  • Mouth-watering local cuisine; world-famous wines
  • Possible trips to Florence, Siena and Pisa

Is This Trip for You?

Activity Level: 2 (Leisurely/Moderate)
Av. daily ride: 18km (11 miles).
No. of days walking: 4
Terrain & route: The walking mainly follows flat strade bianche (white roads) with some asphalt lanes and partly shaded forest and valley trails. Walking boots and poles are recommended. Strade bianche are mainly exposed, affording excellent views - a sunhat is essential.
Vehicle Support: A representative will be there to meet you, make sure the bikes are all set up and will be on call throughout the trip should you need.

It is important that you are happy reading maps and following route notes, we make these as accurate as possible and they are regularly checked.

As this is a self-guided holiday there is no group and no leader. There maybe others on the same departure date as you, but you will not be organised together. The route notes contain an emergency assistance telephone number should you need it and in emergencies, the local representative is normally able to dispatch a taxi or pick you up themselves. They may wish to charge for this service.

You start in Volterra, a real Etruscan gem with its tangle of alleys home to alabaster workshops and secret chapels, from where you walk through the verdant Berignone Nature Reserve and up to a fantastic panoramic ridge before a final climb to Casole d'Elsa. Your journey then takes you east to mediaeval Colle di Val d'Elsa, enjoying balcony views across the Elsa Valley. As you move towards stunning San Gimignano, the mediaeval 'Manhattan of Tuscany', the landscape is dominated by vines so there are plenty of wine-tasting opportunities here!

Group

As this is a self-guided holiday there is no group and no leader. A local representative is on hand to assist you and will meet you at the beginning of the week to go through the route notes and point out particular places of interest. Your luggage is transferred and route notes and maps are provided. Please note: the walking and luggage transfers included in this tour are subject to a minimum of 2 people (in total) booked on the departure. A supplement (payable in advance) to cover these transfers and sole occupancy of a room will apply if only 1 person travelling on a departure date.

Adult min age:
18
Child min age:
8

Child max age:

17

Itinerary

Land Only

Start City:
Volterra
End City:
Volterra

Flight Inclusive

Start City:
London
End City:
London

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Arrive in Volterra

    Arrive at your 4 star hotel just outside Volterra's mediaeval gates, where you have time to relax in the pool before dinner. (Staying at Park Hotel Le Fonti, Half Board)

    Meals included:
    Dinner
  • Day 2

    Volterra to Casole D'Elsa

    There's a short transfer (30 mins) this morning to the start of your walk. Forest trails lead east through the Berignone Nature Reserve where you may be lucky enough to see wild boar, deer and fox. As you leave the forest, the ridge opens up giving wonderful valley views out towards Casole d'Elsa where you'll spend the next two nights. (Staying at Hotel Terre di Casole, Half Board)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 14 km / 9 miles
    Activity (hours):
    4
  • Day 3

    At Casole D'Elsa

    Casole d'Elsa is a picture perfect Etruscan village atop a panoramic ridge. From the vermillion hued 14th century castle, views stretch as far as Monte Amiata in the south of Tuscany. A leisurely lunch maybe in the medieval piazza, before visiting the small but intact amphitheatre and Etruscan tombs. (Staying at Hotel Terre di Casole, Half Board)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
  • Day 4

    Casole D'Elsa to Colle Di Val D'Elsa

    Today's walk takes you down to the valley floor passing fields of sunflowers and orchid-sprinkled paths, before coming to the small hamlet of Quartaia, a good lunch stop. Continue through the woods along the famous pilgrims' path, the Via Francigena, where the fossils in the stones beneath your feet bear witness to the time when this area was covered by the sea. A final easy stroll takes you along the milky-blue, limestone-rich River Elsa and to your stunning 4 star hotel, a beautifully converted 12th century Benedictine abbey with garden and pool. (Staying at Relais della Rovere, Half Board)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 19 km / 12 miles
    Activity (hours):
    5
  • Day 5

    At Colle Di Val D'Elsa

    Take the local bus to Siena (30 mins) or Florence (1 hour). Or stroll into impressive Colle di Val d'Elsa, a fascinating town of two halves with a lift linking the lovely new piazza with the medieval upper town. (Staying at Relais della Rovere, Half Board)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
  • Day 6

    Colle Di Val D'Elsa to San Gimignano

    Today you follow in pilgrims' footsteps along the Via Francigena. Bright with sunflowers and fragrant apple orchards, this historic path skirts tiny hamlets and lonely chapels towards the lazy Foci river. You may like to make a short detour to take in a wine tasting at Montauto, before retracing your steps to rejoin the Via Francigena up to San Gimignano. There's time for a swim in the pool before dinner. (Staying at Relais Santa Chiara, Breakfast only)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 16 km / 10 miles
    Activity (hours):
    5
  • Day 7

    At San Gimignano

    Visit San Gimignano's mystical towers this morning built by warring neighbours in the 12th century to outdo one another! Or for a longer day out, hop on a local bus to Siena (30 mins), a perfectly preserved medieval gem with a stunning striped 14th century Gothic cathedral and beautiful square. (Staying at Relais Santa Chiara, Breakfast only)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 8

    San Gimignano to Volterra

    A short taxi ride (10 mins) from your hotel takes you to the start of the walk in Caggio, at the Castelvecchio Nature Reserve. From here you follow a woodland trail dotted with rock roses and wild strawberry plants to reach a panoramic strada bianca, where hawks soar overhead. With open views across cypress-studded ochre fields to Monte Voltraio, you pass through Sensano and Ulignano, historic hamlets with 16th century villas. Perhaps picnic by the era Valley before ascending an ancient mule track back to Volterra. (Staying at Park Hotel Le Fonti, Half Board)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 22 km / 14 miles
    Activity (hours):
    7
  • Day 9

    Leave Volterra

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

All ascents, descents and distances listed above have been measured by our local partners or tour leaders. Please note that different GPS measuring devices can give differing results dependent on the barometric pressures at the time. Measurements stated throughout these trips notes are given to help you understand the types of terrain and distances you will encounter.

Accommodation

Hotels

Our carefully picked hotels, all with pools, are full of contrasts, from a 4 star recently renovated, elegant boutique hotel just outside the mediaeval town of Casole d'Elsa to the refined elegance of the 4 star Relais della Rovere in Colle di Val d'Elsa, a magnificently restored 12th century abbey. Chianti is synonymous with excellent food and wine and evening meals are a celebration of the local cuisine. Perhaps try pappardelle alla lepre (fresh ribbons of pasta with a hare sauce) or bruschetta (toasted bread rubbed with garlic and olive oil, topped with sun-ripened tomatoes), all washed down by a glass or two of full-bodied Chianti!

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single only guarantees a room for single use. It does not always mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Single supplement from £352.00

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

All continental breakfasts and 6 evening meals.

Italy’s most famous export is probably its cuisine and the traditional dishes of Tuscany are the most influential and revered. The region’s food is based on cucina povera, ‘poor/peasant cookery’, a rural cuisine based on available natural ingredients: olive oil, unsalted bread, pulses and vegetables, wild mushroom or porcini, and salt-cured meats such as salame and prosciutto. In particular, Tuscan olive oil is renowned for its quality and is the most important ingredient in the region’s cookery. You will find it in almost every dish - as a salad dressing, poured over vegetables and into soups and even as a replacement for butter on bread (very nice with a sprinkling of salt!).

Of course the Chianti region is best known for its regional wine (the very best ones are Chianti Classico and have a black cockerel stamped on the label). Chianti is produced in the vineyards dotted around the Tuscan hills; we actually visit the hills to the north of Siena, where the Chianti Colli Senesi wine is produced. Made from the Sangiovese grape, this is an excellent light, fruity red. Although best known for its red wine, a good white wine is also produced in the Chianti region. Made from the Vernaccia grape, the Vernaccia di San Gimignano is a crisp dry white which has greatly improved over recent years. It is best drunk young.

Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

April and May departures can expect warm days and although rain is possible, it seldom lasts long. Nights may still be rather cool. We strongly recommend a fleece-lined jacket or warm sweater in these months. June sees the start of summer and July and August can become quite hot by mid afternoon, so this time is kept free for lunch. Although rain is unusual, torrential cloudbursts are not unknown. September and October are cooler and wetter, yet visibility is often better. Swimming is usually still possible at this time.

Weather Charts

Joining Instructions

The tour itself normally begins at the start hotel in Volterra on the afternoon of Day 1 of the itinerary. Arrival and departure transfers from Pisa airport are included. 

Flights:
We can also book flights for you. The standard flights we usually use are with British Airways Heathrow to Pisa 08:25/11:35 transfer to hotel 75 minutes. Return: Transfer to airport 75 minutes British Airways Pisa to Heathrow 12:35/14:00 Business/club/first class seats are available on request.Please note that the standard flights/trains may occasionally change throughout the season so please enquire for up-to-date details.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Transfers Details

Standard transfers
Transfers included from Pisa airport at 11:35, and back to Pisa airport at 09:00.

Alternative transfers
If you require alternative transfers (because you will be arriving at a different time to our standard flights), then we can usually arrange these for you (there may be an additional charge).

Location start:
Volterra
Location end:
Volterra

What to Take

Essential Equipment

Waterproofs

Warm jumper/fleece

Suncream

Water bottle (1 litre) you will be able to refill each day at the accommodation.

Optional Equipment

Torch (useful for walking to the village in the evening)

Swimwear

Reading List

  • The Rough Guide to Tuscany and Umbria
  • Lonely Planet Tuscany and Umbria
  • DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Florence and Tuscany
  • Time Out Florence: And the Best of Tuscany

Practical Information

Passport

Italy

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information offered below is to help you with that process. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

Italy

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Vaccination

Italy

There are no specific health risks.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

Italy's Timezone:
Europe/Rome CEST (GMT +02:00)

Electricity

Italy's Electricity:

European plug ‐ 2 round pins.

Money

Italy's Currency

The national currency of Italy is the Euro (EUR), with an exchange rate at the time of publication of approximately 1.2 to the UK£ and 0.9 to the US$.

Exchange rates are correct at the time of publication.

 

ATM Availability

ATMs are widely available and usually the most convenient way of obtaining Euros. Travellers cheques are accepted in banks. Credit cards are widely used.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

Lunch is not included in the itinerary and some dinners are left open where there are good restaurant choices, please allow some spending money for this. We recommend approximately €5-15 (US$4.50-13) per lunch and €20-30 (US$18-27) for dinner

Responsible Tourism

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 16 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

TRAVEL AWARE –STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to www.exodus.co.uk for online booking, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.