Toscana Trekking

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  1. Weekend of chestnut gathering and walking at Vagli Lake (Campocatino - LU)

  2. Week end in the Apuane Alps: the Pania della Croce and Foce di Mosceta

  3. 5 Day hike in the Apuane Alps (continuous route)

  4. The ‘Parco delle Apuane’ from north to south (continuous route)

  5. Hiking in the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines (in the Province of Modena)

  6. Hiking through the three Parks of Gigante, Orecchiella and the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines

List of possible daily extensions

Northern Tuscany and the Mountains

Central-Southern Tuscany and the Islands

 

12.  Weekend of chestnut gathering and walking at Vagli Lake (Campocatino - LU)

2 days – 1 night

On the Garfagnana side of the Apuane Alps, the picturesque village of Vagli lies beside the lake of the same name. The lake serves as a weir and the rooftops of the old submerged village can still be seen rising out of the water. During this weekend we will follow a path through autumn colours and the echoes of ancient hermitages hidden among the rocks, gather chestnuts and experience a typical family-run mountain hotel. The centuries-old chestnut woods, the intense aroma of wood fires lit once more after the summer, and the first chestnuts of the season enjoyed in good company while we tell legends and old village stories. A wonderful chance to savour the autumn. 

Saturday    Meeting at about 11.00 at Careggine (LUCCA) (ask at time of booking about getting to the village as it may be possible to travel with other participants). Check into hotel and beginning of walk near Campocatino. Packed lunch (participants bring their own – or can purchase one at Careggine). Return to hotel in late afternoon, dinner and overnight stay.

Sunday       after breakfast, 9.00 start for chestnut gathering in a nearby chestnut wood. Return to hotel for lunch. In the afternoon, roasted chestnuts in front of the fire and walk in the village before our departure.

 

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13.   Week end in the Apuane Alps: the Pania della Croce and Foce di Mosceta

2 days – 1 night

Anyone who looks eastwards from the beach or a boat during the hot summers on the Versilia will see the spectacle of rugged mountains rising imposingly almost from the coast itself. As if in a mirage, their snow-white glare seems to cool the scorching summer heat. The white Apuan marble, known for its purity ever since antiquity, overlooks the Ligurian Sea below like a permanently snow-covered balcony. The famous Pania della Croce, a favourite destination for hikers and climbers in search of rugged and imposing peaks, is followed by the severe Borra di Canala and then by cool beech woods. These stretch as far as Foce di Mosceta, an ‘apennine’ valley where there are raspberries, blueberries and firs cooled by streams surrounding the Del Freo refuge, where traditional Garfagnana dishes can be enjoyed.

Saturday  9.30 meeting at PRUNO (division of Stazzema) near the car park. From Pruno we will walk through chestnut and beech woods to the Foce di Mosceta. Lunch (not included, but you can bring your own or purchase from the Del Freo Refuge). Walk in the surroundings of the refuge (possible ascent to M. Corchia). Dinner at refuge and overnight stay.  

Sunday   Breakfast at Del Freo Refuge, walk to the Pania della Croce and Pizzo delle Saette; packed lunch; return to Pruno in the afternoon.

 

Technical Information (Walking)

1st day’s walking: Pruno - Rif. Del Freo: medium difficulty; average walking time: 2h30'; uphill ascent 720m;

1st day optional climb to the Vetta del Corchia (1676m): return route medium difficulty; uphill ascent 500m, walking time 2h there and back.

2nd day’s walking: Rif. Del Freo – Pizzo delle Saette – Pania della Croce - Pruno: demanding route; average walking time 5h30'; total ascent 725m, descent 1400m

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14.   5 Day hike in the Apuane Alps (continuous route)

5 days – 4 nights

1st day - (actual distance: 7 km; overall altitude difference: 574 m; average expected walking time: 3h15’) - (in the event of a diversion to the Grotta all’Onda: distance 13.5 km; altitude difference 1159m; average walking time: 6h25’) – Meeting with the guide in Versilia. Transfer to starting point of our walk. Route: Casoli – Foce al termine – Callare di Matanna – Monte Nona. Overnight stay and dinner in mountain refuge.

2nd day - (actual distance: 8 km; overall altitude difference: 477 m; average expected walking time: 3h20’) – Walking route along the ridge: Monte Nona – M. Procinto – M. Forato – Pania della Croce. From this splendid route along the ridge we can enjoy the view on all sides: from the Apennines to the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago and Lake Massaciuccoli. The sunset seen through the famous natural arch of the M. Forato is a spectacular sight. Dinner and overnight stay in mountain refuge.

3rd day - (actual distance: 15 km; overall altitude difference: 861 m; average expected walking time: 6h50’) – Route: Pania della Croce – M. Corchia – M. Altissimo – Alto di Sella – M. Tambura. This is the longest stretch in our hike, taking us into contact with the characteristic karst phenomena which have produced one of the deepest caves in the world. Through huge ravaneti (hollows), abandoned villages, old miners’ routes and cool forests with streams, we can imagine what it must have been like to be a marble worker in these quarries. Dinner and overnight stay in mountain refuge.

4th day - (actual distance: 11 km; overall altitude difference: 772 m; average expected walking time: 4h40’) – Route:  M. Tambura – M. Pisanino – Foce di Cardeto – Orto di Donna. Approaching from its northern slope, we come to the highest peak in the Apuane alps, Monte Pisanino (1946m). We then descend towards Orto di Donna where we will stay in accommodation available there.

5th day - (actual distance: 12.5 km; overall altitude difference: 906 m; average expected walking time: 5h25’) – Route: Orto di Donna - Foce al Giovo - M. Grondilice - M. Sagro - Campo Cecina. This is where the Garfagnana, Lunigiana and the Apuane alps meet, affording spectacular views over the three mountain systems and their valleys. It is also the main marble area where the world’s largest marble basin is found. Some of the quarries can be visited, as well as the Fantascritti Marble Museum. When we get to the Carrara Refuge we will have a short stop before travelling back to our starting point by mini-bus.

Best time of the year: spring and autumn

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15.  The ‘Parco delle Apuane’ from north to south (continuous route)

4 days – 3 nights

The Park of the Apuane Alps comprises a rather unusual mountain chain which, despite its vicinity to the sea and its not particularly high peaks, is given the term ‘Alps’ because of its geomorphologic features, characterised by sharp peaks, steep slopes and deep, narrow valleys. The beauty of the landscape is unique. The nature of the rocks gives rise to karst formations such as spectacular caves and crevasses. Our route takes us from north-west to south-east starting at M. Freddone in the north and ending near the village of Casoli to the south, near Camaiore.

1st day: (day’s walking route: M. Freddone – Freo refuge – actual distance: 7000m; overall altitude difference: 607 m; average expected walking time: 3h30’) – Meeting with your guide at Pietrasanta railway station. Travel from Pietrasanta to Galleria del Cipollaio by mini-bus. The beginning of the path is found just after the end of the tunnel. This first part of the route, as far as M. Freddane, is quite demanding. We proceed at high altitude for about an hour, stopping for our packed lunch close to a small church. We then continue to climb for a short stretch and continue at high altitude to the Freo refuge, at the foot of the Pania della Croce, for our overnight stay. The path is almost entirely covered by beech woods.

2nd day (day’s walking route: Freo refuge - Pania della Croce – actual distance: 7800 m; overall altitude difference: 808 m; average expected walking time 4h15’) – Departure at 8.30. We will head north to reach the Rossi refuge, walking round the Pizzo delle Saette, along a fairly level path, apart from the last part. The route is almost entirely shaded by vegetation. Weather permitting, we can walk from the refuge to the top of the Pania della Croce where the view sweeps down to the sea and the port of Forte dei Marmi and the beginning of region of Liguria. Mount Pania is arid, with outcrops of rock and stone. Moufflons may be sighted.

3rd day (day’s walking route: Pania della Croce – M. Forato – M. Procinto – actual distance: 6750 m; overall altitude difference: 683 m; average expected walking time: 6h) – This is the most demanding day’s walking and the route may be modified in the event of fog or strong winds. Departure 8.30. Starting from the Rossi refuge our route takes us along the Costa Pulita ridge of Mount Pania for a short distance, along which there are a number of solid vie ferrate (routes equipped with ropes, footholds and ladders). After this begins the long, steep slope covered in grass which leads us to Foce di Valli. From here we follow the entire ridge until we come to M. Forato, a picturesque natural creation through which you can see the coast and the sea. We then proceed along a slightly sloping path towards M. Procinto, after which we come to the Forte dei Marmi refuge where we will stay for the night. The first half of the route is unshaded and lies on a substratum of stones following exposed ridges. The second half, on the other hand, is a cool and pleasant walk.

4th day (day’s walking route:  Forte dei Marmi refuge – M. Matanna – Grotta all’Onda - Casoli - (actual distance: 7550 m; overall altitude difference: 272 m; average expected walking time: 4h) – Departure 8.30. We set off towards M. Matanna: the road climbs up to the Matanna refuge where there is a restaurant and bar. This is where we will stop for lunch. Afterwards we will proceed downhill towards the enchanting Grotta all’Onda, with its cascades of water filtering through the rocks. From here we head for Casoli to meet our mini-bus which will take us back to the railway station at Pietrasanta.

Best time of year: spring and autumn

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16.   Hiking in the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines (in the Province of Modena)

2 days – 1 night

 

The Tuscan-Emilian Apennines are best known for their ski and winter sports resorts, although this is a rather superficial and un-natural way of considering the area. Visiting these mountains with specialised nature and walking guides will give you a sense of discovering and observing unfamiliar places from a new perspective. The walk will take you along a splendid mountain path which crosses a wide variety of natural environments, from beech to conifer woods and a lake.

1st day (Day’s walking itinerary: Cosentini Refuge - Lago Santo – Walking distance: 6000m, altitude difference 400m) – Meeting with your guide at the Cosentini refuge where this short hike will begin. The first part of the route leads uphill to Foce al Giovo, then down through lovely beech woods where numerous mountain streams flow, and on to the Lago Santo lake where we will have dinner and stay overnight in the refuge. Optional short moonlight walk.

2nd day (Day’s walking itinerary: Lago Santo – Lago Turchino – M. Rondinaio – Foce al Giovo –  Casentini Refuge – Walking distance: 9000m, altitude difference 500m) – After breakfast we will climb from Lago Baccio to Lago Turchino (two lakes) and on to the top of M. Roninaio (1954m), from where there is a stunning view over the nearby Apuane Alps and the peaks of the Apennines. We will then begin our descent to Foce al Giovo through thick conifer woodland and return to our starting point where the walk ends.

When to go: Spring and Autumn

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17. Hiking through the three Parks of Gigante, Orecchiella and the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines

4 days – 3 nights

An “easy” hike with return to the same Refuge each evening and transport of luggage by car.

1st day (Day’s walking itinerary: Passo Le Forbici – M. Prado –. Battisti Refuge – Actual walking distance: 7800m; overall altitude difference: 400 m) – Meeting with the guide at the Passo delle Radici and transfer to Passo delle Forbici where our hike begins (luggage will be taken by van to the Battisti Refuge where we will be staying for the three nights). Packed lunch. The route takes us along the ridge to M. Prado and then from Laghi Bargetana to the Battisti Refuge. Dinner and overnight stay.

2nd day (Day’s walking itinerary: Battisti Refuge – Sprone di Prado – Abetina Reale –  Battisti Refuge – Actual walking distance: 7000 m; overall altitude difference: 400 m) – A lower walk than the first day’s, through woods of beech and conifer. Packed lunch. Back to the Refuge for dinner and overnight stay.

3rd day (Day’s walking itinerary:  Battisti Refuge –  Bargetana Refuge – Battisti Refuge – actual walking distance: 6750 m; overall altitude difference: 300 m) – An easy route through the unspoilt mountain environment. Mouflons and marmots are frequently encountered along the path. Back to the refuge for dinner and overnight stay.

4th day (Day’s walking itinerary: Battisti Refuge – M. Cusna – Battisti Refuge – Le Forbici – Actual walking distance: 16000 m; overall altitude difference: 450 m) – One of the most spectacular walks along the ridge of the Reggiano Appenines, affording views as far as the Alps and the Adriatic. Our walking trip ends at the Passo delle Forbici.

When to go: Spring and Autumn

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 In the event of bad weather or unforeseen circumstances, all the indicated programmes are subject to variation at the Guide’s discretion

The itineraries described represent an outline of the programmes which are subject to variation at the discretion of the organiser, according to necessities connected with the planning of these itineraries and on the basis of the viability of covering the chosen itinerary, weather conditions and any unforeseen events due to circumstances beyond the control of the organisers. In the event of it being necessary to solve problems or unforeseen events which make it impossibile for even just one participant to carry out the trip, the trip itself may be interrupted or suspended for the time needed to solve the problem or to arrange for the participant in question to be taken home.

      

List of possible daily extensions

Northern Tuscany and the Mountains

27.      Apuane Alps: the Antro Cave and Ascent of Mt. Corchia

From Levigliani the park’s shuttle bus will take us to the entrance of the cave. Following a guided tour of the Antro del Corchia (a 2h tour with a specialised guide, along steel walkways, for a total of 646m; constant temperature of 7.6°C) we will climb to the Del Freo Refuge (return route of medium-easy difficulty; total uphill altitude difference about 280m; actual walking time about 1h). We will have a break for lunch near the refuge (either own packed lunch or at the refuge – to be arranged). From the refuge we will climb to the top of Mt. Corchia (1676m) (optional) (return route of medium difficulty; uphill altitude difference 500m). On the way back we will stop again at the refuge before beginning our descent to the entrance to the cave where the shuttle bus will meet us to take us back to Levigliani.

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28.      Apuane Streams: the Candalla Cavities and the Lombricese Factories

In the lush surroundings of the southern Apuane Alps, this striking route takes us along the Rio Lombrici with its cavities formed by the erosion of the water over thousands of years and the surprising ruins of the ancient factories which exploited the energy of these waters, maintaining a harmonious balance with nature. We will have a chance to bathe in the cool stream, and can visit the only remaining  factory in use, the Antica Ferriera Barsi, an ironworks where a friendly blacksmith will introduce us to one of the marvels made possible by water. 

Technical details: return shaded route of medium difficulty with a number of detours; overall length 6000m; uphill altitude difference 350m; average walking time 2h.

Bring a small backpack with sufficient drinking water (although you can drink at the many fountains en route), and a picnic lunch. Wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes; a pair of beach sandals and a swimming costume are also recommended.

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29.      Apuane Alps: Mt. Forato

Monte Forato  is one of the best-known and unusual peaks in the Apuane mountains (its two peaks rise to 1223 m and 1209 m). It is easily identified because of the arch that spans its peak, measuring about 32 by 25 metres. At certain times of the year the sunset can be seen through the arch, and on clear days you can see the sea, the region of Liguria and the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago.

The walk will start from Stazzema.

Technical details: a medium-difficult route; actual walking time, 4h; overall uphill altitude difference 500m; length about 8km.

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30.  Climbing Mt. Gabberi, the “Balcony” over the Apuane Alps

A day’s hike along the southernmost ridge of the Apuane Alps, through chestnut and maple woods to the spectacular “Versilia Balcony” affording views that stretch from the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago to Corsica, the Cinque Terre, the islands of Tino and Palmaria and across all the peaks of the Apuane Alps, like an immense map. The circular route from the village of Farnocchia will take us close to the legendary “Pietralunga” where the Devil is supposed to guard a treasure consisting of a hen and twelve gold chicks, hidden in the pinnacle of grey limestone. Retracing the history of the terrible massacre of S. Anna di Stazzema, our walk will look at the area from a different point of view as we make our way through the little villages and past the historical roadside maestà.

Technical details:  medium-easy circular route: total uphill altitude difference 600m; distance about 9km, actual walking time about 4h.

Bring a small backpack with sufficient drinking water. Wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes.

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31.       The Grotta all’Onda Cave (Camaiore – Province of Lucca)

For much of the way this fascinating route follows an old aqueduct through oak woods to the spectacular cave – Grotta all’Onda – with its enchanting shower of water. The Grotta all’Onda is in the Apuane Alps, on the southern slope of Monte Matanna at 710 m above sea level.  This large cavity takes its name from the marked convex or wave-like feature above the entrance to the cave.

Technical details: return route, partly shaded, of medium difficulty for averagely fit people; average walking time 2h (each way)

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32.      Apuane Alps: from Pruno to Foce di Mosceta

This route leads through secular chestnut woods, past wayside shrines where wayfarers used to shelter from medieval times. Our destination is the Foce di Mosceta, an enchanting saddle with typically Apennine features overlooked by the most famous Apuane mountains

Technical details: medium-easy  return route of about 7000m; total uphill altitude difference 700m; actual walking time about 5 h.

Bring a light backpack and drinking supplies, as well as a packed lunch (food can also be bought from the refuge). Comfortable clothing and walking shoes are recommended.

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33.       Mt. Tambura and the Apuane Marble Quarries (Carrara, Province of Massa)

The age-old tradition of the miners in the splendid setting of the Apuane mountains       

From Arnetola we will follow the long series of bends up the "Via Vandelli", the old mule track planned by abbot and engineer Domenico Vandelli to connect the Duchy of Modena with the Garfagnana and Massa. The easy path winds first of all through beech-woods, then through rocky meadows with isolated trees. Passing two deep Karst chasms and the entrance to an old iron mine (hematite and pyrite) it leads to the Tambura Pass (m. 1620). From the pass it takes about 40 minutes along the easy, rocky ridge to get to the top of Mt Tambura (m. 1895) which is second in height only to Mt Pisanino (m. 1946), just over 3km to the north-north-west.

The breathtaking panorama takes in the Apuane Alps, the Gulf of La Spezia, the Livornese hills and the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago and Corsica. On very clear days you can see as far as the Alps.

Technical Details: return route of medium difficulty for averagely fit persons. Route partly shaded by vegetation. Uphill altitude difference 600/800m; average walking time 3h to the top, but walkers can opt to stop at the saddle.

Bring a small backpack with sufficient drinking water and a packed lunch. Wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes.

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34.      Through the Chestnut Woods of the Monti Pisani: The Mirteto Hermitage

In the magical Valle delle Fonti, on the western slopes of the Pisan hills, the charming ruins of the Mirteto Monastery rise unexpectedly from the maquis at the beginning of the tranquil ‘chestnut paths’. Long avenues surrounded by age-old chestnut trees will lead us on a leisurely walk back to our starting point.

Technical Details: medium-easy circular route, overall altitude difference 500m, distance, about 10km. Actual walking time: about 3h30’. We will leave some of our cars at the end of the route in order to go and get those left at the beginning, thus avoiding having to walk a stretch of asphalt road on the way back.

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35.       Monti Pisani: The Circular Route to the 2 Springs (Buti –Province of Pisa)

From the village of Buti, situated in a lush green valley, we will walk through olive groves on an asphalt road  which quickly becomes a cart track, leading uphill for 30 minutes to a pinewood and a stretch of flat ground. We carry on to the Church of the Madonna della Neve (‘of the Snow’) near which is the Rio Magno stream with a spring of delicious drinking water.  Still surrounded by dense vegetation, we come to the Mezzo Pane spring. From here a path leads downhill along the stream, winding through pines and ferns back to the village of Buti. If we want to we can visit the charming village and its olive press where, during the pressing season, we can taste and purchase oil (not included).

Technical details: a medium-easy route; distance 7 km; altitude difference 608m; actual walking time, 3h 30'.

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36.  Cycling to the Calci Valley (Pisa)

Along the banks of the River Arno to the charming Caprona Tower, with a walk to the tower. We proceed towards the lovely valley of Calci with its ancient parish church and the characteristic villages. If we want to we can visit the Natural History Museum and the Carthusian monastery at Calci(entrance fees not included)

Technical details: a technically easy return route over level ground, of medium difficulty in terms of distance (30km). Actual cycling time 4 hours.

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37.   Cycling from Pisa to the Lake of Massaciuccoli

A cycling tour to explore the Pisan coast and its varied environment from a new perspective. We will ride through part of the presidential estate of San Rossore where we may be able to see some of the abundant wildlife that inhabits the park and which has little fear of passing bicycles. We proceed through the Park of Migliarino, through pinewoods and coastal areas to the village of Torre del Lago. Picnic lunch. After lunch we will visit the Lake of Massaciuccoli with its aquatic fauna, and the archaeological remains of the Roman villa. Depending on time available, we may be able to take a boat trip on the lake.

Technical details:  a technically easy return route over level ground, of medium difficulty in terms of distance (40km); actual cycling time, 4 hours.

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38.  Walk from Calci to the Verruca Fort - Pisa

A circular route through olive groves and woodland on the Pisan hills to Mt Verruca dominated by the 13th-century Pisan fort which crowns the mount of the same name at about 540m. Its origins and history are closely linked to the village of Calci which lies in the middle of the valley below and which has always participated in the vicissitudes of the powerful town of Pisa and all the wars that it was involved in over the centuries. From the walls of the legendary fortress we can enjoy the splendid panoramas stretching from the Pisan Plain to the sea and the island of Gorgona.

Chance to visit the Carthusian monastery and Natural History Museum at Calci (entrance fees not included).

Technical details:  medium-easy circular route with a slightly more difficult stretch. Actual walking time about 3 hours.

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Central-Southern Tuscany and the Islands

1.             Le Moie and the old Volterra railway line (Val di Cecina, Livorno)

An unforgettable trip into the Tuscan hills covered in the velvety green May wheat. From Saline to Volterra along the old rack railway line which used to climb up to the picturesque Etruscan and medieval town where we can visit the Acropolis and the Roman Theatre, as well as the Rocca Vecchia’s green park, now the site of the prison. After walking through town on the tracks of the civilisations which inhabited the area, we will return along the old mule paths, giving us an opportunity to get a privileged view of the mineral area of the salt pit. Tour of Volterra and its famous salt cliffs: a geomorphological and geological wonder.

Technical details of the walk:  easy walking; total uphill altitude difference approx 400m; distance 10,000m; expected walking time approx 3 hours. N.B. the complete circular route (which is 18,000m long and takes 5.5 hours) will only be covered in one direction on foot, the return will be by car, so that we can also fit in the ‘urban walking’ in Volterra. For this purpose, some of our cars will be taken to Volterra before we start the walk. 

We recommend bringing a lightweight backpack with adequate water supplies. Wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes.

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2.             The Sterza waterfall, Renzano Woods and the serpentine rock flora  (Val di Cecina, Livorno)

This is the heart of the Mediterranean scrubland, made even more distinctive by the serpentine rocks which make the substratum toxic for most plants and therefore determine the exclusive make-up of the plant associations. The route takes in a number of educational itineraries which will allow us to observe all the aspects and vegetation stages of the maquis as well as the geology of the area.

At the centre of the more coastal part of the Val di Cecina nature reserve, there is a submontane wood of Turkey oaks and hygrophilous plants, a living fossile from the last glaciation period. The particular phyto-sociological value of this wood is added to by the beauty of the surrounding landscape, dotted with old millcourses and spectacular waterfalls, and the area has been declared a site of European interest and world heritage.

 

Technical details of the walk: the walk follows a figure-eight circuit along paths and gravel roads. Level of difficulty: easy - moderate; overall distance 10.5 km; uphill altitude difference: 380m; average duration 4h45’.

We recommend bringing a lightweight backpack with adequate water supplies, and a packed lunch. Wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes. The Cascata della Sterza waterfall is a site of European importance and bathing is therefore prohibited.  

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3.      Colle Val d’Elsa and the Via Francigena (Provinces of Pisa and Siena)

The ancient pilgrims’ route to Rome along one of its most fascinating stretches through the gentle Tuscan hills and the Sienese Crete (clay hills). This is a distinctive landscape consisting of clear streams, velvety green hills and thick copses. Walking along this legendary route is like going back to daily medieval life and the history of ordinary people, surprising for their gaiety and modern relevance, in contrast with the stereotype of the dark Middle Ages with their feudal transgressions. In this land of Boccaccio and Arnolfo di Cambio we will search out the original easygoing, learned Tuscany from which today’s Tuscan character descends.

 

Technical details for transfer to the beginning of the path: we will use our own cars to get there. In order to avoid covering a stretch of tarmac road on foot, we will leave some of the cars in the village and pick them up on our return. The remaining cars will be used to get to the beginning of the path.

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4.      The legendary Cornate di Gerfalco, Tuscan Dolomites with a sea view (Provinces of Siena, Grosseto and Pisa)

Just the sound of the name brings to mind myths and legends of long ago, but the fascination of these mountains does not stop there: the Cornate (literally, ‘horns’) di Gerfalco, rising to 1060 metres and overlooking the Tuscan Archipelago, offer an incredible dolomite-type itinerary situated in the heart of southern Tuscany. Around the limestone mountain a natural reserve known as the ‘Cornate e Fosini’ reserve has been created, so as to preserve an environment that contains many endemic species and many ancient traces of the work of man, from the widest of pastures to the mines where silver and other precious metals were extracted, making the fortunes of the families of the village of Gerfalco, now one of the remotest places in Tuscany. Our itinerary takes us on a discovery of the history, the geology and the fossils of this part of the Metalliferous Hills and we will be able to walk through ancient and modern oceans below the wing of the Fosini and Gerfalco castles.

Technical details of the walking tour: a star-shaped path of medium difficulty because of the altitude difference from the western slope of the Cornate to the top at Castello di Fosini and to the Fonte del Canaluzzo. Total altitude difference (uphill) 500m; average walking time: about 4 hours.

 

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5.      The Windmills at Orciatico and the Mofette at Lajatico

The valley of Lajatico is rich in history and curious natural features: during this excursion we will see the Windmills at Orciatico and visit the Mofette at Lajatico where the carbon dioxide gurgles at the bottom of the stream creating a fascinating ‘boiling’ of the water. Along the wild Fosce river we will find the remains of ancient water mills, hidden in the woods. A path leads to another unusual natural activity, that of the escaping of gases rich in sulphuric acid which deposit sulphur crystals around the openings through which they escape.

Technical data for the walking itinerary:  a circular medium-easy walk; length of walk 10,000 m; average walking time about 4 hours

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6.       The Rocca di Pietracassia - Lajatico (Province of Pisa)

A walk through unusual woods of oak and juniper on the gentle Tuscan hills to admire the many colours of the landscape during the ploughing season. Walking through this breathtaking pastoral scenery we will follow in the tracks of our medieval ancestors to the legendary fortress known as the Rocca di Pietracassia, still standing majestically above the rich Metalliferous Hills.

Technical data for the walking itinerary: an easy route along an uneven and sometimes muddy path; overall distance 11,500 m, uphill altitude difference 281m; average walking time 3 hours 40m.

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7.       Le Balze di Certaldo: in search of Fossils

An unimaginable landscape just a short hop from Florence, with its steep vertical walls (the spectacular cliffs of sand, or balze, even more imposing than the famous ones of Volterra) and ravines rich in fossils. A day dedicated to geomorphology and paleonthology to reconstruct the area’s ancient geography using the techniques employed by geologists.  

Technical data for the walking itinerary:  an easy circular route; uphill altitude difference 400m; overall distance 8000 m; average walking time about 3hours. Walk suitable for children

It is a good idea to bring a small axe and a few small bags or boxes (and some absorbent paper such as toilet paper) for collecting fossils in. Also bring a small back pack, and wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes. Since the land is clay-based, it can get muddy after rain: wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty.

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8.      The evocative Diago potholes on the river Egola (Montaione – Province of Florence)

Scattered among the hills of the Elsa valley, the fabulous potholes dug out by the devil himself – the Diago – form a frame for one of the most superb and least known panoramas in mainland Tuscany. Among woods of hornbeam and stretches of thick Mediterranean scrubland which alternate because of the change in temperature and the ophiolitic rocks, we will come across the remains of ancient mills and bridges originating from the Middle Ages, the era that also created the “Tuscan Jerusalem” at San Vivaldo.

 

Technical Data: we will travel in our own cars; journey from Piazza Gramsci to the beginning of the walk, about 10’. Walk of medium difficulty, distance 7km, actual walking time 3 hours. Much of the route is in the shade. In the case of recent rainfall it might be possible to bathe in the river’s cool potholes.

Recommended equipment: a lightweight back pack with at least 1.5 litres of water per person, and a packed lunch. Wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes. We recommend you also bring a pair of beach sandals and swimming costume.   

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9.      The Anello Montalbano (circular route), the Renaissance in the Land of Leonardo (Province of Pistoia)

In the Medici lands of Montalbano Leonardo found his first inspiration for the study of Art and Science. The Medici had already sensed the immense value of this generous and maternal land by protecting it in their Royal Reserve. This walk will take us along those paths rich in history and nature that we can try to imagine through the eyes of Leonardo as a boy: with a sense of curiosity for even the slightest change in the landscape and vegetation, for the rocks of marine origin which make up the substratum, and for all the archaeological and historical remains which make the area so precious. And in order to immerse ourselves completely in the Renaissance atmosphere of these places we will also try out some of the authentic flavours that Leonardo himself appreciated, with a visit to the Agriturismo “Il Calesse” for a Renaissance style Banquet.

Technical data for the walking itinerary:  technically easy circular route, of medium difficulty in terms of its length of 14km; uphill altitude difference 500m; average walking time 5h 30’; the most difficult stretch is the climb from Bacchereto to the Tower of Sant’Alluccio, covering a distance of 3km and a climb of 340m (average gradient of 9%; time taken 1h15’).

We recommend that you bring a small backpack with sufficient supplies of water. Wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes. Return to cars for 6.30pm. Renaissance lunch at the Agriturismo “Il Calesse”.

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10.  Volterra Reserve: Strolla Falls and Pieve della Nera parish church

This walk is dedicated to medieval archaeology, in search of traces of the history of this area with its ruined villages and castles hidden in the scrubland and conserved by popular memory, and splendid parish churches between the woods and the fields. It is also a pleasant walk, allowing us to admire one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Tuscan hills, surrounded by the dense Mediterranean vegetation and characterised by plants belonging to the microclima of the gorge formed by the Strolla river. The Montenero Reserve stands out with its rugged ophialitic rocks like a wild island against the “sea” of gentle cultivated countryside.

Technical data for the walking itinerary:  circular walk of medium difficulty because of the uneven ground; total distance 9,300m; total uphill altitude difference 280m; average walking time 3h 30’.

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11.   A Day’s Walking on the Island of Capraia

The volcanic island of Capraia is perhaps the wildest of the inhabited islands in the Tuscan Archipelago. Its distance from the coast and its relative vicinity to Corsica have favoured the development of a typical and exclusive flora and fauna which make the island a perfect laboratory for the observation of nature. A variety of landscapes unroll in the space of a few hundred metres, creating a unique and stunning contrast between the arid asphodel-covered steppe with its windswept saddles and the spectacular water buttercups in the Stagnone marsh (the only natural area of water in the Tuscan Archipelago)

While the island’s history and its former penal colony are of great interest, its natural features will undoubtedly form the predominant part of our explorations, enabling us to get closer to that magical aspect of the island which is still largely unknown to mass tourism and urban life.

Programme: Walk to mount Arpagna, an old military lookout site from where on clear days we can enjoy a view of Corsica. Packed lunch. From here we proceed to Trattoio head where a small lighthouse marks the coast to sailors. Tour of the old village of Capraia, transfer to the ferry, embarkation at 18.00, arrival in Livorno at 20.30.

Technical details: walk of medium difficulty; 5 hours of walking; uphill altitude difference 250m; packed lunch to be provided by participants.

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12.  Livornese Hills: the Calvario circular walk and the Colognole aqueduct

A splendid day’s walk during which we will see the remains of the 18th-century windmills along a lush, ridge-top path with a mixture of evergreen and deciduous vegetation. The circular route allows us to touch on various small villages separated by long stretches of natural countryside rich in traces of a rural culture that has now been lost. These include the tiny hamlet of Pandoiano, and the village of Colognole hidden in the green path that leads along the 18th-century aqueduct, with its bridges and little temples which guard the precious sources of water that gurgle from the rock.

Historical and scenic interest.

Technical details: easy circular route, partly on open land. Length of walk 11,910 m; total uphill altitude difference 345m; average walking time: approx. 4h 30’

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13.   Hike through the Livornese Hills – The Chioma Valley

The beautiful Mediterranean maquis in the wild and little known Livornese Hills is at its most attractive at this time of the year with its shiny myrtle berries and tasty red strawberry fruit. Along the path there are some interesting shepherds’ buildings from the 18th century and traces of old Lombard outbuildings, as well as an exceptional outcrop of Miocene Coral Rock: in fact, 8 million years ago these hills were surrounded by sea and can only be described as ‘Fossil Islands’. At the convergence between the River Chioma and the Botro Quarata we can rest for a while and eat our picnics before setting off again through the secular wood of holm oak back to the beginning of the path.

Technical details:  easy circular route partly on open land and partly through woodland; total uphill altitude difference: about 160m; length of walk 8,250 m; average walking time: about 3h 30’

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14.   The Miocene Gypsum at Cava Serredi (Livorno Province)

Spectacular gypsum crystals emerge like precious stones from the rough clay. Like the remains of an ancient civilisation, they recall a distant natural history made up of wide salt basins which preceded the seas of today. During our walk, which takes in panoramic farmland and stretches of Mediterranean maquis and holm oak woodland, it is possible to get to the Fonte di Ricaldo, an ancient washing basin now half-covered in vegetation, which represented the most important source of water up until the 18th century. Its importance was such that it merited the paving of an interesting ancient route.

Technical Details: easy return route, partly covered by vegetation; distance: about 4km, minimal altitude difference; average walking time: 1 hour each way.  A small backpack and sufficient water supplies are recommended; wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes.

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15.   Hike through the hills of Castellina Marittima (Pisa Province)

This hike through woods of oak and holm oak will lead us on a discovery of the environment and vegetation around the characteristic village of Castellina Marittima from where you can gaze at the sea, the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago and Corsica on one side, and the snowy peaks of the Apuane Alps on the other.

Technical details: a challenging hike because of the repeated changes in slope; average walking time: about 4h 15’, distance: about 12km.

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16.  The Mines of Montecatini Val di Cecina (Pisa Province)

A day dedicated to the geology and history of the Val di Cecina area with its mines, salt mines and its enchanting panoramas.

In the morning we will visit the historical part of the village of Montecatini from where we will then depart on our hike towards the Poggio alla Croce from where, on clear days, the panorama stretches from the Apuane Alps as far as the south of Tuscany. Picnic lunch. The pleasant path, with its wealth of anemones and cyclamens, leads us on a discovery of the typical Mediterranean fauna of the sunny slopes and through the chestnut woods on the northern slopes in the company of grazing cows.

Tour of the Mine of Montecatini and the famous Pozzo Alfredo from where the minerals were brought to light.

Technical details: circular route along paths and ‘white’ (or unpaved) roads ; difficulty: medium-easy; overall length 7 km ; uphill altitude difference 200m; average time required 3 h.

 A small backpack and sufficient water supplies are recommended; wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes.

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17.  Exploring the Mills and charcoal pits between  Castagneto Carducci and Sassetta

One of the most interesting and panoramic routes on the Etruscan Coast. Starting out from the medieval village of Castagneto Carducci, we will go in search of the numerous water mills which characterise the area, some still in ruins, while others converted into villas or farmhouses. The route is marked by its Mediterranean maquis, the garrigue and evergreen and deciduous woodlands. Along the way you will see countless former charcoal pits showing how the forest resources were exploited up until recent times.

Technical details:  we will travel by using our own cars; the walk starts in Castagneto Carducci. The hike is of medium difficulty, length 8km, time required 3h 30’.

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18. The Island of Pianosa

The prohibited island, the least known and most fascinating in the Tuscan Archipelago. A day trip to the most beautiful corners of the isle.

Currently lacking in civil settlements, but still a prison site, Pianosa boasts a rich historical and archaeological heritage as well as being a protected nature reserve. The island possesses a paradoxal contrast between its unusual flat morphology and its high limestone cliffs; it has an original village designed in the very early days of the Kingdom of Italy; the magnificent Paleochristian Catacombs shrouded in mystery; the remains of the thermal baths belonging to Marcus Postumus Agrippa’s luxurious domus; the prison sectors of the oldest Agricultural Penal Colony in the Archipelago, and innumerable coastal paths immersed in the Mediterranean vegetation. All this is waiting to be discovered on this enchanting day trip. We will have a chance to swim in the splendid Cala Giovanna.

Meeting point outside the Stazione Marittima in Piombino at 8.00am. Board the fast boat for Pianosa (a 2h 15’ journey). The ferry sails along the north-western coast of the island of Elba. Hike into the prison part of the island, towards the south-east coast, through the prison sectors which are now abandoned farmhouses. Picnic lunch (participants supply their own) (lunch can also be bought at the Bar Ristorante Coop. S. Giacomo). Tour of the historic centre and the Catacombs (entrance fee €2 to be paid locally). There will be an opportunity for swimming at the Cala Giovanna. Embarkation for Piombino at 17.00. Arrival at about 19.15.

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19. Eastern Elba: the Mines at Rio Marina

This day trip will take you on a discovery of the most traditional and authentic aspect of the island of Elba, that of the mines which brought the island worldwide fame. We will walk along the historical mining routes and through the various quarries. At the end of the walk we will visit the Museo Minerario (mining museum).

Technical details: an easy open route, overall distance 5700m, total uphill altitude difference 225m, average time taken 2h 20’.

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20.   The Rocca di S. Silvestro and the Temperino Mine

This walk is dedicated to geology and history. We will enter the Park along an external path in order to reach the evocative medieval fortress (‘rocca’) of San Silvestro where you can still breathe the atmosphere of the tiny hamlet at the time when it was abandoned. This is an exceptional and internationally unique archaeological site. Our itinerary will allow us to discover first-hand the infinite mineralisations of the Metalliferous Hills and their geological history, including an exciting visit to the historical Temperino Mine.

Technical details: overall length 9000m; uphill altitude difference about 450m .

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21.  Hike to the ruins of the Convent of Monte Muro (Grosseto Province)  

Close to the old village of Scarlino, our path will take us through the “Bandite di Scarlino”, a vast area of woodland overlooking the gulf of Follonica taking in the municipalities of Castiglione della Pescaia, Gavorrano, Scarlino and Follonica. Our route along the ridge will lead us to the evocative remains of the 15th century Convent of Monte Muro, between charcoal pits and chestnut woods through which you can glimpse the splendid gulf of Follonica.

Technical details: we will use our own cars; this is a circular route of medium difficulty; length 8km, actual walking time 3h 30’, uphill altitude difference 330m.

Bring a small backpack with at least a litre and a half of water per person, as well as a picnic lunch. Wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes.

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22.   The splendid Nature Reserve of the Farma River  (Chiusdino, Province of Siena)

The Farma Nature Reserve, situated between Monticiano and Roccastrada, incorporates the middle stretch of the beautiful, wild valley of the river Farma, the main tributary of the river Merse. The whole Farma valley, especially the part within the reserve, preserves a number of natural features which are unique to the province of Siena and among the most interesting in the country.

In the valley there are numerous historical traces of the Middle Ages, such as the mills and the iron mines where iron was worked, powered by the energy provided by the water. The river Farma became an industrial centre for the working of iron. The most important ironworks, which we will visit, used to be known as the “Ruota” (‘wheel’) and is now called the “Ferriera”. The whole building can still be seen, as well as a dam for the collection of water a few hundred metres upstream.

When we get to the attractive river we can bathe in the clear water and have lunch in the peaceful surroundings in the shade of the lush vegetation. We will have another stop for bathing at “Canaloni”, a stretch of about 150 m of river characterised by a marvellous alternation of waterfalls and bars, while framing this is one of the most ancient rocks in Tuscany (about 350 million years old).

Technical details: we will use our own cars; journey from Ginestra Fiorentina to Scalvaia in order to reach the beginning of our path. This will take about 1h 15’. Route of medium difficulty, length 10km, actual walking time 4 hours (if necessary we can take one of the cars towards the end of the route in order to avoid the last uphill climb). The first part of the path has little vegetation for shade. The second part is almost entirely shaded.

Bring a small backpack with at least a litre and a half of water per person, and a picnic lunch. Wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes. A pair of beach sandals and a swimming costume are also recommended. 

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23.  The Abbey of San Galgano in the Valley of the river Merse (Province of Siena)

Whether for adventure or for pleasure, crossing the Merse Valley one cannot fail to be enchanted by the beauty and primitive charm of these places, and it does not take much to imagine you are still in the Middle Ages. The splendid Abbey of San Galgano and the hermitage of Montesiepi rise in the valley of this river, between Chiusdino and Monticiano in the province of Siena. A characteristic wooden bridge will lead us across the river Merse to our destination. We will visit this important religious complex with its wealth of history and legend, and we will see the famous sword which, according to legend, San Galgano drove into the rock. On our way back we will visit the medieval village of Chiusdino, the birthplace of San Galgano, which still conserves the relics of the saint.

Technical detailseasy route with negligible uphill slopes; actual walking time 2h 30’; length about 5 km.

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24.  Indian Summer at Cala Violina, one of the most beautiful beaches in Italy (Province of Grosseto)

In the area between the Puntone di Scarlino and Punta Ala, halfway between the lush Mediterranean maquis and the crystal clear sea, this walk offers breathtaking views over the Gulf of Follonica and the southern islands of the Tuscan Archipelago.

Taking advantage of the late summer weather, we could head for the beach that is known as one of the most beautiful in Italy, reachable only via one of the many paths. It owes its name to the violin-like sound perceived when walking along the fine white sand. The clear, warm water might entice us into having the last swim of the season,  having walked through the lush Mediterranean vegetation and holm-oak woods.

Technical details: a circular route along paths and “white roads”. Difficulty: medium-easy; uphill altitude difference about 300m; average walking time 3h 45’.

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25.  Birdwatching at the Mouth of the Ombrone River

This walk leads through the lush vegetation of the river delta marshland at the mouth of the Ombrone. It is a charming route offering opportunities for birdwatching and sightings of the various mammals present in the park. We will walk through the Granducale pinewood to the wild sandy coast where we can swim while admiring the view of the Tuscan islands.

Technical details: easy circular route, partly shaded by plants and trees. Average walking time: 2h; length  5km. No altitude difference.

Bring a small backpack with at least a litre and a half of water per person, and a picnic lunch. Wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes. A sunhat, sunscreen, towel, binoculars and a swimming costume are also recommended.

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26.   Hike around the Towers in the Parco dell’Uccellina  (Province of Grosseto)  

Through the lush vegetation of the park to the medieval tower of Castel Marino, perched on the edge of the ancient cliffs. Below lies the Granducale pinewood which covers the wide plain between the sea and the mouth of the Ombrone river. In the background you can see the white sands of the attractive beach.

Technical details: return route of medium difficulty for averagely fit people. Partly covered by plants and trees; average walking time 3h (each way); length, about 6km; total uphill altitude difference 170m. From Alberese Visitor Centre a shuttle bus will take us to the beginning of the path and will pick us up again on the way back.

Bring a small backpack with at least a litre and a half of water per person, and a picnic lunch. Wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes.

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 * Direzione Tecnica FORZA 7

  Per informazioni sulle escursioni:

alice: 347 7922453 alice@toscanatrekking.it

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Toscana Trekking - Guide Ambientali Escursionistiche

Dott.ssa Alice Colli - viale del Tirreno 373 - Tirrenia 56128 (PI)

P.IVA 01494300492 - alice@toscanatrekking.it - 347 7922453 - fax 050 30448