Hiking in Wild Tuscany Itinerary

(Moderate – Grade 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 at Col di Lavacchio

Group transfer from Pisa Airport to Agriturismo Col di Lavacchio (approx. 75 minutes). 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.

Meals: Dinner

Day 2 “Wild Flower Mountain” – Monte Croce (Apuane Alps)

Summit: 1314m   Ascent: 580m   Distance 9km   5hrs

From the remote alpine village of Palagnana we follow the cobbled mule track through the beech woods to Foce delle Porchette. A brief coffee stop at this saddle affords sensational views of marble quarries dotting the coastal hills of Carrara. A straightforward scramble up the limestone gorge of Le Scalette sees us emerge onto the upland pasture carpetted in Spring with wild flowers. The final pull up to the summit and a well earned lunch stop offers spectacular views of the Pania range and across to the Apennines. The gentle descent through more beech and chestnut before the hamlets of Pioppo gives time for anecdotes and history from the guide. A pause in the medieval village if Fabbriche di Vallico to visit the old chestnut mill is an option on the way home. A dip in the pool before dinner will ease any first day aches.

Meals: Breakfast Lunch Dinner

Day 3 “Walk with the Gods” – Monte Giovo (Apennines)

Summit: 1991m   Ascent: 930m   Distance 12.5km   6.5hrs

As we head across the Serchio valley and up through the foothills of the Apennines the enormity of this mountain chain becomes apparent. Beginning our walk at 1300m we warm up with a steep climb through the beech woods to emerge on the high meadows and on to the pass at La Porticciola for a coffee. The ridge to the summit rears ahead of us but we drop into the beautiful glaciated valleys of Emilia Romagna where Hannibal camped with his elephants. At Passo Boccaia we turn sharply up a steep ridge with the blue waters of Lago Santo below us. Myths abound about this lake and the guide keeps us entertained all the way to the summit. Here, the views of the Apuane Alps, the Tuscan archipelago and even Corsica are awe inspiring. We descend a broad ridge, enjoying the burst of flavour of the myrtille berries before taking the forest trails back to the bus. A pause in Barga for an amble through elegant streets, sipping an artisan beer or savouring a fabulous gelato is reward for a challenging day on the hill.

Dinner: Pizza night with surprise toppings prepared on the terrace at the farmhouse.
Meals: Breakfast Lunch Dinner

Day 4 “A Dance with the Devil” – Monte Forato (Apuane Alps)

Summit: 1301m   Ascent: 855m   Distance 10km   6.5hrs

From the quintessential Italian village of Fornovolasco we take to the cobbled streets, before joining the old pilgrims’ trail through the forests towards the coast.. A steady climb takes us past caves and the ghostly ruins of medieval hostels to the pass at Foce di Petrosciana. Coffee is accompanied by breathtaking views of the rock tower of Monte Procinto and of the mountains all the way to the Mediterranean. A short scramble sees us follow the ridgeline until the huge limestone archway below the summit of Monte Forato: compulsory photostop, before a short climb to the summit itself for lunch and stories of devilish exploits. After our picnic we continue along the ridge over limestone steps until Foce di Vagli, the smooth sweeping slope on the south side of Pania del Croce. Our descent takes us through the meadows and forest back to Fornovolasco. A swim (or just a foot bath) in the fast flowing Turrite river refreshes the parts that a drink in the Mori Vito hostelry cannot reach.

Dinner will be accompanied by a blind tasting of wines from the Lucca hills.
Meals: Breakfast Lunch Dinner

Day 5 “Rest your weary soul”

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: Breakfast

Day 6 “Of Lovers and Shepherds” – Pania di Corfino (Apennines)

Summit: 1603m   Ascent: 786m   Distance 12km   5 hrs

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. There is time for a stop in the sensational 13th Century walled town of Castiglione di Garfagnana for a stroll through the beautifully maintained streets.

Dinner is in Barga (8km) There is plenty of time to explore this stunning hilltop town before dinner at a traditional trattoria.
Meals: Breakfast Lunch

Day 7 “The Queen” – Pania della Croce (Apuane Alps)

Summit: 1858m   Ascent: 940m   Distance 11.5km   7 hrs

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, the wild sheep. We pause briefly at Rifugio Rossi before descending the shepherds’ track across the Karst limestone formations and a short transfer to Lavacchio.
The last supper celebrates the achievements of the week, the discovery of a timeless land and new found friends.
Meals: Breakfast Lunch Dinner

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.
Meals: Breakfast