Travelling the Tuscan Via Francigena calls for some physical fitness and suitable equipment. If you’ve never set out for a long hiking journey before, your training should begin a few weeks beforehand. First of all, your body needs to get used to walking, even if it’s just taking a few walks in the city centre, gradually increasing the distance and using wearing trainers. Next, test the equipment you’ll use during your hike, especially your shoes and backpack, taking long hikes alternating unpaved roads with tarmac (the worst for your feet), working up to the distance of one leg (20-25 km).
In any case, don’t worry too much; the beauty of the walk also lies in the fact that you’ll often find the energy you need with every step you take, and the fear of not being able to do it vanishes after a few days’ walking.
Generally, the dynamics of a hike require a couple of days to gain your bearing, with a possible crisis point on the third or fourth day, improving thereafter, leading to reaching your optimal form after one week.
As far as equipment is concerned, your footwear and backpack are the two most important aspects for the success of your walk, so invest well. In the mid seasons, with the possibility of lasting rain, we recommend hiking boots with good ankle support, with waterproof Gore Tex membrane; in the summer, use lighter, breathable hiking shoes without a membrane. Choose your socks carefully, too; they should be hiking socks in blister-proof fabric. The best ones, in merino wool, are not overly expensive and are extremely useful in protecting your feet.
Your backpack should neither be too big nor too heavy: 40-45 litres for a man and 35-40 litres for a woman is more than enough. Women are recommended to use a woman’s backpack as the shape of the straps is different.
For more information about choosing equipment, and in particular choosing footwear and backpacks, read some of the article published on the official website of the Vie Francigene: