Italy 2023 – Via Degli Dei: Days 5-6

With only two completed days out of four on the Via Degli Dei, we were excited to get our legs beneath us this morning. From now on, I vowed to use only the main AllTrails routes and to stop trying to second-guess the connections from the Via to our lodgings and vice versa.

Via Degli Dei – Day 5: San Piero a Sieve to Vetta Le Croci

Enough messing around… let’s do this!

It helped that we stayed at a private apartment last night (like an Airbnb), where we could fix breakfast at sunrise and head out of town on our own schedule. The temperatures and humidity are still high, but we have learned to mitigate them better. I think we’re acclimating…

The path today has a lot of ascents and descents. From this farm, our next goal is to cross that range ahead, but only after we first go down to the valley’s bottom.

We haven’t had any problems with guard dogs around the farms, but these guard geese were on the job!

For the first time on this Via, we came across a couple of honor-based water and snack stands, which we always appreciate. Interesting that we found two stands in this stretch yet saw only two other people all morning.

It’s a great feeling to look back and see the progress we’ve made in the last two hours: from the villa on the distant ridge, down into the valley, and up this mountain…

Upon the last summit of the day, we found Convento di Montesenario with many visiting Italian tourists. It was an excellent spot to lunch on the cheese and crackers that we carried.

Walking down the hill from the convent, we caught our first sight of urban civilization: Firenze!

We can now see the famous dome of the Duomo!

There’s Florence!

Joanie’s solar umbrella helps her beat the heat!

We are learning to stop and enjoy our afternoon riposo!

Just as refreshing as the rest breaks are our afternoon cold drinks when we’re done each day. Beer for Joanie and Aperol Spritz for me!

We’re now accustomed to all the flowers we see each day but never tire of them.

The view from our hilltop B&B was as great as we’d seen all day. It’s hard to believe we’re just 10 km (6 miles) from Florence (as the Italian crows fly…).

I’m beginning to think that all cooks in Italy are master chefs!

Day 5 Stats
Distance: 20.0km / 12.5mi
Elev Gain: 909m / 2,982ft
Time: 5:26
Steps: 38,290

What a glorious day on the Via Degli Dei!

Via Degli Dei – Day 6: Vetta Le Croci to Firenze

We made it!

Despite the gaps earlier in the week, we were proud of our efforts and felt the tired joy of accomplishment when dropping out of the hills into central Florence on our last stage of the Via Degli Dei. The day’s hike was not a minor one. Plenty of climbing – still in the heat – some rock-strewn trails, and a lot of urban walking through traffic and noise. The heights delivered incredible views: vineyards, olive groves, picturesque villas, and the ever-present Duomo pulling us forward into the historic center of Florence.

We met these four mountain bikers at a vista over the city. The man in the middle rides a Santa Cruz bike, and he insisted on a group shot when I told him I had lived two miles from the factory for many years.

Can you see the Duomo?

The suburbs were quiet, but we found the city center crowded with foreign tourists (mostly American). They filled every bit of available shade and were oblivious to what we were doing in our trekking gear. On the rare occasion when we saw other Via hikers, similarly attired, we made a point to check in with them, share knowing nods, and exchange tired congratulations. It bore faint resemblance to the party-like “Camino-family” reunions upon arriving in Santiago de Compostela, but it was heartfelt.

We knew what we had done, even if no one else did… and that was just fine.

After cleaning up a bit, we went to the official arrival desk of the Via Degli Dei to present our stamped passports and collect our certificates. It’s hard not to smile big!

Day 6 Stats
Distance: 20.1km / 12.5mi
Elev Gain: 429m / 1,407ft
Time: 5:00
Steps: 41,306

My feet are sore, Joanie’s back is twitching, and my spirit is confused. It has been only six days since we left Bologna, but it seems like ages. We’ve hiked far less than I planned.

Via Degli Dei Stats
Distance: 83.5km / 51.9mi (Plan: 138km / 85.7mi)
Elev Gain: 2,779m / 9,118ft (Plan: 4,993m / 16,381ft)
Time: 23:06
Steps: 219,873

More importantly, it was a tough week of learning. We have tonight and tomorrow to rest and recover while playing tourists in this remarkable city. Will that be enough time for us to be ready to catch the local transport to our next trailhead? The next Via has more of everything in store for us: more time, more distance, more climbing, and more steps.

Mentally, I need to get myself sorted – I need a new approach.

Author: Chris

Until 2019, I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Namibia focused on Community Economic Development. Before that, I was a high-tech executive, small business owner, consultant and business broker.

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