Wild Tuscany Walking Itinerary
Walking Grade: 4-5
All of our day hikes are circular routes over a considerable variety of terrain and designed for both the experienced hill walker as well as the novice hiker with a sense of adventure. Because we use fully qualified local guides who have intricate knowledge of the area, we can vary the itinerary to suit the demands of the group or to take account of the weather conditions. By keeping the groups small, with a ratio of 1 leader to 8 clients we can give exceptional care and attention to every individual.
Day 1 Arrival
Group transfer from Pisa Airport to Agriturismo Lavacchio (approx. 75 minutes)
Today you arrive at Lavacchio farm, near the tiny hilltop hamlet of Promiana. We invite you to join us on the terrace for a complimentary aperitif when we can discuss the week ahead. A candlelit dinner is served in the cosy dining room amidst the antiques and oil paintings, or on warm evenings we will eat on the vine covered terrace with views of the Serchio Valley and the mountains beyond.
Day 2 Monte Croce (Apuane Alps)
This first walk is an excellent introduction to the area, a gorgeous summit with a ‘cross’ at 1314m. We begin with a drive through the steep sided “valley of the deepest green” through the medieval village of Fabbriche di Vallico to the remote alpine hamlet of Palagnana. We set off up the old mule track through beech woods before stopping for coffee at Foce delle Porchette, a pass which offers incredible views all the way to the Mediterranean and the marble quarries where Michelangelo sourced his stone for ‘David’. From here we ascend an impressive limestone gorge, before clambering out onto the alpine pasture, and the final pull to the summit. Mt Croce is known for its wild flowers – there is a festival attracting crowds in the Spring – and we can admire carpets of narcissi and countless orchids. The summit offers spectacular views of the Pania Massif and the extensive ridge of the Apennines. We descend by a circular route through the beech forest and the hamlets of Pioppo before enjoying a drink at the village bar Dalla Ge in Palagnana.
Ascent: 580m Distance 9km 5hrs Highest point: 1314m Meals: BLD
Day 3 Sentiero dei Metati (Apennines)
A metato is the ancient chestnut drying barn used throughout the region for this staple food. Our second walk delves into the history of this area and its use of natural resources. We begin our walk on a bend of the river Sillico and wind our way up the tumbling mountain torrent. Our initial destination is the Mulino Sante, a beautifully preserved chestnut mill with its working parts still intact. Owner Roberto is a willing tour guide and brews an exceptional coffee. Across the river we ascend through pristine chestnut woodland with a selection of traditional Metati. Emerging in Sillico we get breath taking views of the Garfagnana valley which we continue to enjoy through a traditional lunch on the terrace of Ristorante Belevedere. A stroll through the medieval hilltop town reveals typical architectural features before we descend over meadows to the ancient hamlet of Bargecchia. A tiny trail takes us down to a trout farm on the river before we make our way back to the minibus. There is a chance of a short stop in Castelnuovo for an amble round the walled town.
Ascent 400m Distance 12km 5 hours Highest point: 745m Meals: BLD
Day 4 Monte Giovo (Apennines)
We head across the Serchio Valley and up through the foot hills of the Apennines to the village of Renaio, before stopping at Vetricia, at 1,308m. The walk climbs through sun dappled beech forest before emerging on the Apennine pasture and along the hillside to the pass at La Porticciola, at 1,700m. Here we drop down via Hannibals Camp (yes, he got everywhere!) to another pass, Passo Boccaia, where we start our climb of the ridgeline. A steep climb, but nothing difficult or exposed, and with excellent views of the blue green waters of Lago Santo to our left. We aim to have lunch at the summit of Monte Giovo, at 1,991m. Our descent takes us down the broad ridge, along a hillside traverse and finally down through the beechwoods back to Vetricia.
We will stop in Rovaio for a welcome drink at Il Mostrico, an extraordinary mountain drinking den and centre for this remote community.
Ascent: 930m Distance 11.3km 6.5hrs Highest point: 1991m Meals: BLD
Day 5 Free day for relaxing or exploring Lucca
Today you have a free day to either enjoy the beautiful grounds of Lavacchio, relaxing by the pool and resting tired limbs, or to take a trip to the provincial capital. The medieval walled city of Lucca is absolutely stunning and a great place to relax or engage in some serious retail therapy! It is the birthplace of Puccini, and the museum documenting his life is definitely worth a visit. A complimentary taxi to the railway station will be offered in the morning with a return service late afternoon. Massage is also available as we have an excellent local masseuse who can come to the house. In the evening, you can prepare a meal in the farmhouse or stroll along to the local restaurant, Il Sassone di Fobbia. Meals: B
Day 6 Pania di Corfino (Apennines)
A drive into the heart of the “enchanted forest” of the Garfagnana shows the patchwork landscape of small farms and reveals the extent of the woodland that lends its name to the valley. We begin walking up through the high alpine town of Corfino before ascending the cobbled mule track through chestnut and beech. At this point your guide comes into his own as we head off trail and up the broad ridge of the Corfino escarpment admiring sensational views of the Apuane range to the west. The summit itself offers fine 360° views and is a perfect spot for lunch. We descend through mountain pasture, pass Rifugio Granaiola and then through the “fungi woods” to the old shepherds’ village of Campaiana. The cobbled trail takes us down to the Fonte Del’Amore (Who can resist a sip from this magical spring?) and then along the Sassorosso gorge, keeping a keen eye for the eagles nesting above. The old mule track takes us back into Corfino where we can stop for a drink or a well-earned gelato.
Ascent: 786m Distance 10km 6 hrs Highest point: 1603m Meals: BL
Day 7 Pania della Croce (Apuane Alps)
The “Queen of the Apuane” is the mountain that rears up above Lavacchio and can be seen from the plains of Lucca and Pisa and is a fitting finale to the week. After a short journey up to Piglionico (1100m) there are many options on the Pania, from the main “tourist route” taken by most walkers to the route we favour:
A traverse around the north of the mountain gives us fine views of Mt Rovaio, scene of a brutal battle in 1944 between German forces and the local Partisan brigade. Emerging from the woods we get tantalising glimpses of the imposing peak above and we pause for coffee at the Foce di Mosceta to gather our strength. The switchback trail up the west side of the Pania reveals fabulous views of the rock stack, Mt Procinto, as well as of the sea. Reaching the ridge we are shown an awe inspiring vista down over the meadows to Pania Secca and beyond to the Apennines. A gradual climb and ridge walk to the summit shows the scale of this majestic peak with views of marble quarries above Carrara, the Gulf of La Spezia and Corsica. The descent through the scree filled Canale d’Inferno requires caution but is often alleviated by glimpses of muflone. We pause briefly at Rifugio Rossi before descending the shepherds’ track across the Karst limestone formations and a short transfer to Lavacchio
Ascent: 940m Distance 11.5km 7 hrs Highest point: 1858m Meals: BLD
Day 8 Departure Day
Today you head home, having experienced a week of exploration which revealed the wilder side of the mountains of Tuscany. There will be a single timed transfer to Pisa airport after breakfast.
Please be aware that the itinerary is flexible and at the discretion of the guide, and that changes may be made due to weather and conditions.