Hiking, Via Francigena

Day 4: Gambassi Terme to San Gimignano

San Gimignano: Often referred to as the “town of fine towers”, San Gimignano is famous for its medieval architecture and the unique preservation of its tower houses. It is also well known for its saffron and its white wine. The Historic Centre of San Gimignano is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Duomo of San Gimignano Palazzo Duomo
Rocco of Montestaffoli
Musei Civici
Church of San Francesco – Remains
City Walls

Distance Walked:  15 km
Time:  4.5 hours (including rest break)
Accommodation: La Casa de Potenti di Frosali Maurizo, Piazza delle Erne, 10, 53037 San Gimignano, info@casadeipotenti.com, 59.70 euros per night for private double room with private bathroom. Prime location in the Historical City Centre.

Pilgrim Accommodations: Convent of Sant’Agostino, Piazza Sant’Agostino, 53037 San Gimignano, T: 3890271941 Beds: 10

Summary: We had originally planned to stay at pilgrim accommodations again this evening (Convent of Sant’Agostino). With Richard’s cold in full force, we decided to give him a little extra ‘quarantine’.

You may have already been asking yourselves, “what’s up with the bunk beds and shared accommodations?” Everyone’s Camino is different, and what is right for one person on a Camino may be completely wrong for someone else. On our first Camino (2010), Richard and I stayed in private, pre-booked accommodations. As nice as they were, we never really got into meaningful conversations with other pilgrims, other than the occasional ‘hello’ to familiar faces. On our 2nd (2016) and 3rd (2017) Camino, we switched to pilgrim accommodations. We loved the flexibility of not needing to book ahead (Spain). We especially loved saving (a significant amount of) money that we immediately put towards more travel! Most of all, we were able to connect with a diverse group of interesting people who greatly enhanced our Camino experience. It is incredible how quickly these people become a support network for each other.

Not all pilgrim accommodations are shared rooms or bunk beds. Last night, we had a private room but also had the privilege of sharing dinner with 23 other pilgrims. The conversation (a mixture of English and Italian) was so engaging that I didn’t stop to take a photo. I know…that’s incredible restraint for me! I did grab a quick photo from breakfast.

While at breakfast, there was a woman (Mary) who looked familiar. As we spoke a bit further, we realized that one of her BFFs, Hui Xu, is one of my BFF’s, and Mary and I had previously met in Beijing. Mary even remembered the story of Richard’s and my first date. How cool is that?

On the feature photo, that’s Jenny and Danilo enjoying a picnic lunch. We kept on running into them all day on the trail. Below is a quick pic from Richard’s and my lunch view (at the back of a very historical, and inviting, church).

Tomorrow’s destination is currently unknown. We’re off to figure that out now. I’ll keep you posted!


40 thoughts on “Day 4: Gambassi Terme to San Gimignano”

  1. It really is a small world, isn’t it?
    Loving following you vicariously through your daily posts, Donna.
    I hope there is a camino in my future. Looks like quite the experience!



  2. Enjoying seeing your pics and hearing about your days. You’re doing great blogging from your phone!


  3. You’re so good at using your phone for blogging, Donna. Another beautiful day and how cool it is to meet someone you had met in Beijing. I hope you don’t catch Richard’s cold and he’ll feel much better soon. Have a wonderful walk to your next destination!


  4. Wow, talk about a small world…running into Mary, how cool! What a great picture of the two of you. You are looking adorable, as usual! I hope Richard is feeling better, Donna. Be safe!


  5. Donna, you read my mind about the bunk beds and shared rooms. I just commented to Patti and Abi at One Road at a Time that I think I might prefer the cushier accommodations that they are enjoying. However, you make a very valid point about how it changes the dynamic of interacting with others. Just crappy luck for your hubs to get a cold. Hope all is better soon.


  6. Loved the accommodation (very upmarket compared to the bunks!) And meeting a friend of a friend is pretty amazing too. Enjoying your journey with you Donna x


  7. Hi Donna,
    So enjoy reading about your adventure. It does seem like Richard needs a little “quarantine and quiet”…hope he can shake that bug soon!
    I’m glad you gave your perspective on Pilgrim housing along the route. I’m wondering if I would be comfortable with that, but I can see how the cost savings and fellowship with other pilgrims would be a draw.
    Can’t wait to see your next destination!


    1. Hi, Nancy – I’m replying with just 2 days to go until we arrive in Rome. Along the way, we have stayed in very mixed accommodations. Overall, the shared pilgrim accommodations have been my favorite because they have helped provide more meaningful interactions with others (despite initial language barriers),


  8. This post reminds me of the word “flexibility.” Any form of travel is more fun when everyone is prepared to be flexible. “Support network” is an important phrase for me to remember if/when I consider a Camino adventure. Huge coincidence on running into someone you had met before:)


  9. Clearly I’m all over the place reading your posts out of order. How amazing to run into a familiar face so far away from home. I call it “when different worlds collide”.


  10. Hi Donna – amazing small world – what fun … and you’re obviously doing things your way – makes so much sense … hope Richard’s cold has eased … I’ll be finding out shortly! Cheers Hilary


  11. Thanks, Jude – The views were truly breathtaking, and constantly changing throughout this walk. We would have stopped to eat our lunch where Jenny and Danilo were. Since we had run into them several times already that day….we didn’t want them to think that we were stalkers! 🙂


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