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Wonderful Day Walks Through Tuscany’s Idyllic Mountains

From$1,549
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Min Age : 18
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Highlights

Walks in Tuscany’s mountainous Garfagnana region

The Garfagnana region, close to the gems of Lucca, Pisa and Florence, is one of Italy’s best-kept secrets and the perfect base for guided walking holidays in Tuscany. The area’s astonishing landscape is a far cry from the rolling hills of southern Tuscany as it lies between the striking peaks of the Alpi Apuane and Apennine mountain ranges, providing ample hiking opportunities which, along with picturesque mountaintop and lakeside villages and the warm local hospitality, make for a wonderful trip.

The June 13, July 25 and September 5 departures are activity level 5 (instead of 3) meaning the trekking is more challenging and there is one night spent in a mountain refuge.

There is also a Chianti Walking & Wine Week-Long Tour available.

  • Five wonderful day walks through Tuscany's idyllic mountains
  • Challenging walks on certain weeks
  • Stay in a beautifully situated Tuscan farmhouse with swimming pool
  • Opportunity to visit Lucca on the free day
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Itinerary

Day 1Start Braccicorti

Start at Braccicorti lodge, approximately 3.7mi from Castelnuovo di Garfagnana and 2 hours from Pisa airport.

Meal included: dinner

Day 2Pania di Corfino (Activity Level 3) or Monte Forato (Activity Level 5)

Walk through the Orecchiella N.P. to Pania di Corfino (Activity Level 3)
After breakfast at Braccicorti we drive to the small village of Pruno where you begin your walk into the Orecchiella National Park, home to a variety of flora and fauna changing throughout the year. In spring it can be covered in snow when wolf, deer and mountain hare tracks are easily identifiable. Late spring and summer, the land is carpeted with an array of beautiful flowers and the beech trees begin to grow their iridescent lime green leaves which then change to deep oranges, browns and reds in the Autumn. If we are lucky we might spot a number of birds of prey; the common buzzard, the honey buzzard or one of the resident golden eagles. Set amongst the beautiful beech wood our walk steadily ascends to the flat summit of Pania di Corfino with its stunning 360 degrees views. After a leisurely picnic lunch we head to the 16th century village of Campaiana before following an ancient mule track which descends to the town of Corfino.

8mi/13km, total ascent: 603m, total descent: 1978ft/603m, altitude maximum: 5259ft/1603m.

Meals included: breakfast lunch dinner

The beautiful rock arch of Monte Forato (Activity Level 5)
Starting the day with a drive of approximately 40 minutes you arrive at the gorge of Fornovolasco in the Alpi Apuane NP. From here you follow the dry river bed through the woodland, before ascending more steeply to enjoy stunning views down to the Versilia coast and across to the famous marble quarries. You undertake a short scramble to meet the spine that leads up to the incredible rock arch of Monte Forato. The summit is only a stone’s throw away and should be ascended to enjoy the majestic views of Pania della Croce. Continuing on the path you descend sharply through the trees and past old shepherds huts to reach your minibus.

9.32mi/15km, total ascent: 2273ft/693m, total descent: 2273ft/693m, altitude maximum: 4012ft/1223m.

Meals included: breakfast lunch dinner

Day 3Monte Sumbra (Activity Level 3) or Summit of Pania della Croce (Activity Level 5)

Apuane National Park to Monte Sumbra (Activity Level 3)
Today you drive 40 minutes to the small village of Vianova and begin your walk into the Alpi Apuane NP. Much of your initial ascent is on a wide forest track that continues through the beech wood to your first view point across to the face of Pania della Croce and the Omo Morto range. From here you take a footpath ascending to a limestone plateau where there is an optional ascent to the summit of Monte Sumbra (1765m). Weather permitting, you will enjoy an uninterrupted view of the Alpi Apuane range, the Ligurian coast and the enormous spine of the Apennines. After lunch on the summit you retrace our steps back to the limestone plateau, before heading down through the trees following one of the old charcoal trails back to the minibus. On the way back to Braccicorti, time permitting, you may stop in the lovely town of Careggine.

9.94mi/16km, total ascent: 2204ft/672m, total descent: 2204ft/672m, altitude maximum: 5790ft/1765m.

Meals included: breakfast lunch

Apuane National Park to the summit of Pania della Croce (Activity Level 5)
Today you drive for around 45 minutes to return to the Alpi Apuane NP, this time to arrive at the foot of Uomo Morto, the ‘Dead Man’. You ascend steadily through beech wood to emerge at Rifugio Rossi, a small mountain hut at the foot of the ‘Dead Man’s’ nose! There is a high chance of seeing mouflon (wild mountain sheep) as you make our way up a large boulder field to a ridge that takes you to the top of the ‘Dead Man’s’ stomach and the summit of Pania della Croce at 1858m. Along with good views of the marble quarries and the local coastal town of Forte di Marmi below us, you can admire the coast to the Cinque Terre, the flat plains of Lucca and Pisa to the east and the long spine of the Apennine ridge on the opposite side of the valley. After a picnic lunch on the summit you retrace our steps back to the Rifugio, before heading back to the bus.

7.5mi/12km, total ascent: 2486ft/758m, total descent: 2486ft/758m, altitude maximum: 6095ft/1858m.

Meals included: breakfast lunch

Day 4Castiglione di Garfagnana (Activity Level 3) or Monte Tambura (Activity Level 5)

Circular walk from Braccicorti to mediaeval market town Castiglione di Garfagnana (Activity Level 3)
Having a change of guide for the day, you will walk directly from the farmhouse at 410m, firstly visiting the new town of Villa Collemandina before heading to the church and learning about the history of the area. After this the route will take you on tracks, quiet lanes and footpaths through the local farmland and houses giving you a chance to observe village life. Midway through the day you will arrive at Castiglione di Garfagnana at 545m, a small but beautiful mediaeval town, still inhabited and visited by tourists throughout the year. Castiglione is also the place where the region’s largest and most popular chestnut festival, celebrating the chestnut tree and the growth of truffles and mushrooms, is held in the autumn. After lunch you cross a 13th century bridge below the town leading into more farmland and back to Braccicorti on easy tracks.

11.8mi/19km, total ascent: 475ft/145m, total descent: 475ft/145m, altitude maximum: 1788ft/545m.

Meals included: breakfast lunch dinner

Apuane National Park to Monte Tambura (Activity Level 5)
Changing guides for the day, today you transfer to 16th century shepherds village of Campocatino. From here you begin the continuous ascent on a well marked path to reach the ridge line of Monte Tambura where you will start your way unto the summit. The path can be a little exposed and loose in places with stunning views of the craggy peaks all around. From the summit you continue on the ridge line descending to one of the many marble quarries in this mountain range before carefully making your way across several small rocky sections with a fixed security line to aid you on your way back at Campocatino.

9.9mi/16km, total ascent: 2624ft/800m, total descent: 2624ft/800m, altitude maximum: 6200ft/1890m.

Meals included: breakfast lunch dinner

Day 5Free day (Both itineraries)

Free day to visit Lucca, the Cinque Terre, Florence or Pisa
Free day to enjoy any of the following: 1 hr train journey to visit the stunning fortified city of Lucca; 20 minute taxi and 1.5 hr train journey to the coastal UNESCO World Heritage site of the Cinque Terre; 2.5 hr train journey to visit the capital city of Florence, home of Michelangelo’s David or the 1.5hr train journey to Pisa where you can ascend the leaning tower and walk along the beautiful river Arno. Other options would be to relax at the farmhouse and if warm enough make use of the sun loungers and outdoor pool or walk down to Lago di Pontecosi for lunch and a stroll through the local area or take 10 minute train along to Castelnuovo di Garfagnana for lunch and a walk to the old castle.

Meal included: breakfast

Day 6San Viviano's Hermitage (Activity Level 3) or Monte Cusna (Activity Level 5)

Campocatino and San Viviano’s Hermitage (Activity Level 3)
A drive of 25 minutes to Lago di Vagli with its submerged village and impressive backdrop of Monte Sumbra will bring you to the start point for the day; Vagli Sotto. From here you walk on a small footpath to the town of Vagli Sopra where you continue to ascend on a section of the pilgrimage walk through the chestnut wood to arrive at the 16th century shepherds village of Campocatino. Wandering through the village and seeing the beautiful terraced meadows, protected by the impressive wall of Roccandagia, it is easy to understand why the shepherds chose this location. From here you continue to our highest point for the day at 1190m before descending through the trees to San Viviano’s hermitage. Built into the rock face, the tiny hermitage is said to be where San Viviano lived before his bones were finally discovered in 1993. It is now used as a chapel and pilgrimage site. Your descent takes a rarely used mountain path with views across the valley before arriving back at the bus.

7.8mi/12.5km, total ascent: 2066ft/630m, total descent: 2066ft/630m, altitude maximum: 3904ft/1190m.

Meals included: breakfast lunch dinner

Appennino Tosco‐Emiliano N.P. Monte Prado and Monte Cusna (Activity Level 5)
After a 40-minute drive you begin your 2 day ridge walk with a steady ascent through the beech wood to meet the Crinali ridge in the Tosco-Emiliano Appennino NP. During the winter the ridge is covered in snow but spring brings the new growth of alpine flowers and autumn carpets the ground in purple hues from the myrtle berries mixed with the green juniper. Following the crest, this easy route takes you along the ridge up onto the summit of Monte Prado, the highest peak in Tuscany at 2054m. You then descend to the small tarn of Lago di Bargetana, before continuing into Emilia Romagna and up to Monte Cusna at 2121m. Marmots can be encountered on the way. After our second summit you descend to our mountain hut Rifugio Bargetana where you enjoy an evening meal before a well deserved rest. Nestled among the trees, the rifugio is known for its good food and wildlife spotting.

14mi/22.5km, total ascent: 2647ft/807m, total descent: 2647ft/807m, altitude maximum: 6958ft/2121m.

Meals included: breakfast lunch dinner

Day 7Monte Prado (Activity Level 3) or Monte Forato (Activity Level 5)

Appennino Tosco-Emiliano N.P. and the summit of Monte Prado (Activity Level 3)
You start the day with a 40 minute drive to the small ski area of Casone. Walking through beech wood brings you to the beginning of the Crinali ridge, a section of the 1600km Apennine ridge in the Tosco/Emiliano/Apennino NP, offering some of the most impressive views of the week. Below is a basin of fiery colours from the forest between the ridge line of Tuscany and the opposite ridge of Emilia Romagna. Your route takes you along the undulating ridge on an easy path leading you up onto the peak of Monte Prado, the highest in Tuscany at 2054m. After lunch you retrace our steps along the ridge before descending on another route leading you through woodland back to Casone where there is a bar to enjoy a well earned drink.

9.9mi/16km, total ascent: 2427ft/740m, total descent: 2427ft/740m, altitude maximum: 6738ft/2054m.

Meals included: breakfast lunch dinner

Apennino Tosco-Emiliano N.P. to Passo di Praderena (Activity Level 5)
After our night in the mountain hut you retrace your steps to Lago di Bargetana, then head back into Tuscany and onto the Crinali ridge. You stay on this ridge line all day with fantastic views across the Alpi Apuane national park and the Serchio valley. During the autumn the views can stretch as far as the Alps to the North and the islands of Corsica and Sardinia. After completing 15km you arrive at Passo di Praderana where you will drive the 40 minutes to Braccicorti, with the option of stopping at the Osteria of Verrucole Fortress to enjoy a celebratory drink.

9.3mi/15km, total ascent: 685ft/209m, total descent: 685ft/209m, altitude maximum: 6394ft/1949m.

Meals included: breakfast lunch dinner

Day 8Final Good-Byes

Your trip will end in Braccicorti.

Meal included: breakfast

Map
What's Included

All breakfasts, 5 picnic lunches, 5 dinners

All accommodation

All transport and listed activities

Tour leader throughout

Not Included

Airfare

Travel insurance

Visas or vaccinations (if required)

Single accommodation (available on request - limited availability)

Local taxes (approx. EUR 10 per person)

Q & A

How strenuous is this tour?

This trip is graded Activity Level 2 (leisurely). This trip offers a good mix of city and countryside walks. During the days with walking included, the terrain and type of path will vary from man-made paved tracks, streets, forest trails to gravel. The walks are not technically difficult although some ascents and descents should be expected, so a reasonable amount of fitness is required. Please be aware that the Radda walk, on day 3, can be challenging due to the length and the hilliness of the walk. The area is quite hilly and the majority of drives, although short, follow twisty mountain roads through wooden areas.

What is the hotel like?

The lodge-style base is the welcoming Braccicorti, a traditional stone building tucked away on a hillside on the lower slopes of the Apennines. Situated on a typical Tuscan farm, it has been authentically renovated and is surrounded by meadows, orchards, woodland and vines.

The accommodation comprises 4 twin/double rooms (with en suite facilities) and 2 apartments, each with 1 twin/double and 1 single room sharing a bathroom. Double or twin should be stated upon booking and the en suite rooms are on a first come served basis if requested. There is also a dining room, comfortable living room, a quiet room, terrace, golf course with driving range, swimming pool (seasonal – mid May to end of September) and a garden with stunning views to the mountains.

This is not a hotel and the local family, who live next door, clean the rooms once during the week. Please note there are dogs and cats at the farmhouse.

CHALLENGING DEPARTURES: We spend one night in dormitory-style accommodation in a comfortable mountain hut.

Is there a single supplement?

There is no charge for the standard single rooms, as bathroom facilities are shared. These are provided on a first come first served basis and should be requested upon booking. Further double rooms for sole use can be requested 2 weeks prior to departure; a supplement applies for these. We cannot guarantee these will be en suite. Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single only guarantees a room for single use. It does not always mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

What is on the menu?

All breakfasts, 5 lunches and 5 dinners are included.

Continental style breakfast with a choice of cereal, bread, yogurt, eggs and fruit with milk, fruit juice and an array of teas/coffee. Packed lunches are provided for the day walks with a buffet style selection of meat, cheese, fish, salad, bread and salad mix such as panzanella with a cake and fruit.

Starters include the Garfagnana soup, Pesto pasta, Bresaola or risotto with locally made bread, water and Braccicorti red wine.

Main course can be stuffed peppers and courgettes with local cheese and pancetta, roasted meats, locally caught trout or a vegetarian dish such as aubergine and mozzarella bake with home grown vegetables and salad.

Each meal is finished with a small dessert of homemade tiramisu, panna cotta, gelato or fruit salad and on occasions followed with the offer of homemade grappa or amaretto.

Vegetarians are usually well catered for in this area. For those who require gluten free diets, we recommend taking items with you, as it is not easy to purchase gluten free products locally.

What must I bring?

  • Walking boots (with good tread and ankle support)
  • Medium-sized day sack
  • Sun cream, hat and sun glasses
  • Towel and swim suit
  • Waterproofs and warm clothes (essential for inclement weather)
  • Torch
  • Refillable water bottle and electrolytes powders (summer months)

For Activity Level 5 weeks, you will also need a sleeping bag liner (for overnight in refuge) and warm 2-season jacket and jumper (for some evenings and the ridge walk).

Please note that tap water is safe to drink in the area which means all you need to do is bring a bottle to re-fill at the hotel. Please add this to your packing list as this will save on wasteful plastic bottles.

Is this responsible tourism?

Tourism can be a real help to local communities, providing income, positive cultural exchanges and a financial incentive to protect their natural environment. On this trip, you spend the nights in Bracciorti, a lodge-style farmhouse or also known as ‘Agriturismo’ in Italy, which is to support the agricultural community by giving farmers an alternative source of income. To be part of the Agriturismo Association, it is a requirement to hire local staff and use local produce to ensure that the local community directly benefits from the visits. As a walking holiday, please interact with the locals, visit local cafes and bars, support local produce and craft and to experience what life is really like in Tuscany. Additionally, walking trips like this have very little detrimental impact on the environment and the locals as it is a quiet, low impact activity requiring comparatively little resources to support.

Availability Calendar

8-Day Trip | Depart September 5, 2020 $1749 (activity level 5)

8-Day Trip | Depart September 12, 2020 $1549

8-Day Trip | Depart September 19, 2020 $1549

8-Day Trip | Depart September 26, 2020 $1549

8-Day Trip | Depart October 3, 2020 $1549

8-Day Trip | Depart October 10, 2020 $1549

Terms & Conditions

Tour run by Exodus Travels. Order of activities and paths subject to change depending on number of groups booked each week. Departures will be guaranteed to go ahead once it reaches minimum numbers. Adequate and valid travel insurance is compulsory for all Exodus travelers and it is a condition of accepting your booking that you agree you will have obtained adequate and valid travel insurance for your booking. We recommend you take out insurance as soon as your booking is confirmed. You will need to pay a deposit at the time of booking of at least 10% per person of your selected travel arrangements (minimum $300 per person or equivalent). 

Cancellation policy:

More than 70 days before departure date: Loss of deposit unless booking (and deposit) is transferred to a new booking within 12 months of the date the original booking was canceled.

Between 70 and 42 days before departure date (inclusive): 50% of the holiday cost

Between 41 and 28 days before departure date (inclusive): 60% of the holiday cost

Between 27 and 15 days before departure date (inclusive): 80% of the holiday cost

14 days or less before departure date (or failure to join the holiday) (inclusive): 100% of the holiday cost

 

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