Particularly famous in the Middle Ages for its unique position as a converging point of many roads, Altopascio is a historical crosspoint for pilgrims traveling along the Via Francigena. The town is famous for the tradition of assistance carried out under the auspices of the Order of the Knights of the Tau. This tradition is symbolized by its famous Spedale, a hostel founded in the 11th century to host pilgrims walking along the Via Francigena.
Altopascio is also renowned as the city of bread, due to a particular baking process that sees the use of “sconcia”, the local mother dough, that the town has maintained over the centuries.
The Piazza degli Ospitalieri is one of the most fascinating parts of the historic center and the heart of the village, located where once stood the cloister of the pilgrim hospital, and embellished with a medieval octagonal-shaped well.
Many artistic and architectural works are to be discovered in town, such as the famous church dedicated to San Jacopo and built in 1100 during the period of the Order of the Knights of the Tau, a religious and military order. The church was completed with an impressive bell tower in 1280.Inside there is the Smarrita, a famous bell built by Saggina in 1325, which was used by pilgrims lost in the woods of Cerbaie to find their way back.