For being a long day, it was fairly uneventful. We were up at 6 and out the door at 7:15, though it would have been even earlier if we hadn’t had such trouble finding the correct exit from the convent! Siena was still and misty in the thin light of dawn. The south end was as free from suburbs and industry as the north, which made for a pleasant exit. After that it was just one round hill after another, up and down. Most of the hillsides were plowed up with huge chunks of clay sitting immobile until the next crop gets sown. It was surprisingly rural; we could see far in every direction and there were few houses anywhere. Siena remained visible for nearly 15 km—its two towers are unmistakable.
The one notable event of the day was meeting our first other pilgrim on the trail, Hans from Switzerland. He’s just retired and decided he needed to do something for his health, so a walk to Rome was the winning idea. This is the off-season so it’s not surprising we meet so few others, but even in the busy season there’s nowhere near as many pilgrims as on the Santiago trail. I suspect this is in part because of how poorly marked the Via Francigena is; once we were clearly and certainly pointed in what proved to be the wrong direction altogether, adding an unnecessary kilometer or more to our already long trek. Still, we were expecting 35 km and arrived, including detour, in Buonconvento after only 33.5 km. It’s amazing what a gift that kind of thing can feel like.