I’m in Montecatina Terme in the heart of Tuscany for the annual Summit of the Adventure Travel Trade Association. As in past years, the meeting has been preceded by a PSA, a “pre-summit adventure,” typically multiple days of hiking, biking, kayaking, climbing, etc. that showcase the region where the Summit is held.
So, for the last 5 days, I have been hiking — and eating and drinking — on the Via Francigena, the ancient pilgrimage trail that runs from Canterbury, England, to Rome. The trip, which is being hosted by the Italian adventure travel company, S-cape Travel, is not an easy hike, with lots of ups and downs on steep, rocky trails through rolling countryside, but it is well worth the considerable effort. The trail runs past farms, fields, vineyards, and stately houses, and through forests, villages, hamlets and historical towns, such as Sienna and Lucca. On the way, we visited castles, spas, a marble foundry, and an all female winery where we tasted wine paired with music by Verdi, Miles Davis and Frank Zappa. We ate very well, as you can imagine, including several lavish picnic lunches along the way.
And one of the unexpected highlights was a brief conversation with a 75 year old pilgrim from Canada, who had been hiking the Via Francigena for several weeks. More on that later.
Following the Summit, Katherine and I will head to Florence for a few days, then spend about 9 days in Croatia, and cap off the trip with 4 days in Sarajevo for the 32nd annual jazz festival featuring my favorite musician, John Zorn. So, there will be much more to come. Until then, enjoy the many photos from this first leg of our trip.