Hiking in Hidden Tuscany
Hiking in Hidden Tuscany
Hiking in Hidden Tuscany
Hiking in Hidden Tuscany
Hiking in Hidden Tuscany

Hiking in Hidden Tuscany


Trip Overview

Trek through a truly beautiful and ancient Tuscan mountain landscape while enjoying exceptional hospitality. In contrast to the rolling vineyards and cyprus avenues of Chianti, this is an untamed land of chestnut and beech forest with trails weaving along ridges and amongst jagged peaks. We hike the limestone summits of the Apuane Alps and the more benign sandstone features of the Apennine range around the famous hilltop town of Barga. A week in what many of our guests have called a 'true haven of tranquility'.

Highlights

  • Hike the highest mountain in Tuscany
  • Stay in a truly lovely traditional Tuscan farmhouse 
  • Fabulous cuisine prepared by a professional chef
  • Complimentary wine with dinner
  • Easy trip extension for days in Florence or Pisa
  • Gourmet Pizza night with Wine Tasting included
  • Italian ice cream 'gelato' after every walk!
  • Private pool and hot tub
  • Massage and Reflexology available
Spring Flowers, Autumn Colours

Spring in Tuscany is a riot of wild flowers, vibrant greens and heady scents. Fresh flavours dominate the menu and the magical fireflies provide the evening entertainment. Autumn offers gorgeous copper and orange colours, sweet chestnuts and figs plucked from the trees, and of course the chance to sample wild porcini mushrooms. Sightings of boar, deer, muflone or even porcupine are common in both seasons.

Our week of walking in Tuscany is based at Col di Lavacchio, a small organic hill farm with chestnut woodland, olive groves and a small vineyard. The traditional farmhouse provides comfortable and elegant accommodation, with the food and pool adding a touch of luxury.


We greatly enjoyed the whole experience, very much a holiday as well as good hiking. The setting was beautiful, accommodation, hosts and food excellent. We particularly enjoyed the excellent guiding, good company and the shared local knowledge including the routes and driving!

Our guide, Lindsay, was amazing with her professionalism and at including everyone ensuring they had a super time. The views stunning, the food amazing, and the accommodation second to none.

Our trip was full of outstanding views of the mountains, and we had an excellent guide. The hospitality at Lavacchio was very warm, and generous with great meals and wines.

A huge thank you for another fantastic and memorable trip. Tuscany was as wonderful as you said it would be. I think the packed lunches were even better than anticipated! I really loved every minute of it…Lavacchio is such a beautiful place and Jamie and Ailsa are brilliant hosts. You work so hard to make the trip a success. You and all the rest of the gang are a great group of people, and it really is a delight to spend a few days with you.

You are such amazing leaders and have everything so fantastically well - organised, yet are always ready to come up with plan B when required! Julia and Sam, you work so hard to make the trip a success… you have succeeded in creating some very special memories for me. You and all the rest of the gang are a great group, and it really is a delight to spend a few days with you.

Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! I usually go for more 'hardcore' treks but on this occasion I was looking for a more relaxing experience. The whole week (hiking, scenery, accommodation, food, company) all met and far exceeded my expectations. I can't recommend this trip enough. A relaxing change for seasoned Trekkers or a great introduction for the uninitiated. 

Itinerary

  • airport
  • point
  • house
  • transfer
  • Today you arrive at Col di Lavacchio organic farm, near the tiny hilltop hamlet of Promiana. We invite you to join us in the main house 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 terrace with views of the Serchio Valley and the mountains beyond.

  • This first walk is an excellent introduction to the area, a gorgeous summit with a 'cross' at 1314m (4311ft). Each spring when the narcissi are in flower there is a pilgrimage to the summit involving several hundred local people, there to celebrate the spring flowers, and to enjoy the wonderful scent of the daffodils. We begin with a drive through the steep sided valley of Fabbriche di Vallico to the remote village of Palagnana, where we take an ancient trail through the beech forest. We reach the 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' in the year 1501. Then it’s up an impressive limestone gorge, before clambering out onto the grassy mountainside, and the final pull to the summit of Monte Croce. We descend by a circular route through the ancient beech forest and the quaint hamlet of Pioppo and enjoy a drink at the village bar in Palagnana.

    Ascent: 580m (1902ft) Descent: 570m (1869ft) Distance 9km (5.6 miles) 6hrs

  • This morning we are aiming for the highest peak in Tuscany. It's always lovely to feel that sense of surveying all before you, and realising you are as high as you can get, and the views from the summit of Monte Prado do not disappoint. The summit sits at 2054m (6739ft) and offers views back to the Apuane Alps and also across the Apennine Alps with wave after wave of ridge lines. Although it is the highest it is easy walking along a broad grassy ridge where many berry pickers are to be found in the autumn as they harvest the wild 'blaeberries', known locally as 'myrtillo', for sale in local villages. The route begins after morning cappuccino at the ancient coaching house at Rifugio Casone di Profecchia, built to service the pilgrims and travellers heading for the Passo delle Radici which leads to Emilia-Romagna, one of the wealthiest and most developed regions in Europe. A stroll though beech forests, dappled with sunlight, and we emerge onto open grassy hillside covered in juniper, myrtillo and heather. Lunch will normally be eaten on the summit where Italian hikers may arrive from the 'other side' and offer a chance to compare notes!

    Ascent: 1040m (3412ft) Descent: 1040m (3412ft) Distance 9km (6 miles) 6hrs

  • Some wonderful rock 'sculpture' provides our goal today as we climb through the forests in search of the stunning ridge line and natural archway that lies just below the summit of Monte Forato. To reach this impressive limestone arch we begin from the quintessential Italian village of Fornovolasco with its cobbled streets and ancient homes. A steady climb takes us to the pass at Foce di Petrosciana with breathtaking views of the rock tower of Monte Procinto. We then follow the rocky ridgeline, with views to the Mediterranean, until the huge limestone archway is suddenly before us. At this point there is usually a compulsory photostop, before a short climb to the summit itself for lunch. We eat our picnic while taking in views of Tuscan villages, surrounded by forest, and in the distance the sea. Well fed we continue along the ridge until Foce di Valli, and a descent through the meadows, past ancient ruins, and then the forest back to Fornovolasco. This is usually followed by a well earned stop at the gelateria in Gallicano!

    Ascent: 915m (3008ft) Descent: 895m (2936ft) Distance 10km (6.2 miles) 6.5hrs.

  • Today you have a free day to either enjoy the beautiful grounds of Lavacchio, relaxing by the pool and resting tired limbs, or perhaps taking a short stroll from the house through the local chestnut woodlands. Many of our guests opt to visit the medieval walled city of Lucca which is absolutely stunning and a great place to relax or engage in some serious retail therapy! It is the birthplace of Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) who composed some of the most beloved operas of all time, including La bohème, Tosca, and Madame Butterfly. The museum documenting the life of this famous 'local' 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, though pre-booking at the start of the week is essential. In the evening, you can prepare a meal in the farmhouse with delicacies purchased on your visit to Lucca, or stroll along to the local restaurant, Il Sassone di Fobbia. This is the only hiking trip we organise that has a 'day off' but quite simply it is worth every relaxing moment!

  • A gorgeous summit today, with a chance to sip from the Fountain of Love, and perhaps the chance to pick a few porcini mushrooms on the woods? A short drive to the ancient village of Corfino on the Apennine side of the Serchio valley shows the Garfagnana valley opening up with views to ancient homes perched on the hillsides. Starting from the shepherds’ hamlet of Pruno, we wind upwards along a trail in the beech forests and then join an old cobbled mule track along the south side of the Pania di Corfino. We pause for a sip from the Fonte del Amore - Fountain of Love - and then stop at the tiny mountain community of Campaiana for lunch. Winding up to the summit of the Pania di Corfino  at 1603m (5257ft) takes us to an excellent view of the jagged ridges and peaks of the Apuane Alps to the west. The Pania di Corfino is interesting in that it is a limestone mountain set in a range that is otherwise sandstone. We complete our circular walk by heading down the well worn trail to Rifugio Isera and back to Pruno. We normally stop on our way home at the medieval town of Castelnuovo di Garfagnana for gelato.

    Ascent: 775m (2542ft) Descent: 750m (2460ft) Distance 12.5km (7.7 miles) 6 hrs

  • This is a “big mountain" day. Together with its direct neighbour, Pania Secca, the Pania della Croce stands out as one of the most visible mountains in Tuscany. It forms a barrier, separating the northern main summits of the Apuane group from the lower hillcountry in the south. Throughout the week you will have been aware of the 'Pania' rearing skywards high above the farmhouse at Lavacchio. The peak is made even more dramatic by the fact that the mountain is separated from the rest of the range by two valleys meaning that on both sides the elevation difference is more than 1000m. We being with a short drive to Piglionico at 1008m (3307ft) where there is a memorial to WWII partisans who fought a fierce battle on nearby Monte Rovaio. We then traverse round the north side of the Pania delle Croce, to the Refugio del Freo before beginning our main climb of the day on a steady zig zag path. Gaining the ridge we are offered a vista of a rugged, wild landscape, with impressive faces and cliffs as well as glimpses of numerous marble quarries. The Gulf of La Spezia can be seen in the distance and on a clear day Corsica is visible. An easy path takes us along the ridge to the summit 'cross' at 1858m (6096ft) and a well earned picnic lunch. The descent of the rocky Canale d’Inferno often gives sightings of muflon, the wild sheep believed to be the ancestors of all domestic sheep breeds.  It's then back to Lavacchio for a well-earned drink on the terrace and a chance to watch your final Tuscan sunset. 

    Ascent: 940m (3083ft) Descent: 890m (2919ft) Distance 11.5km (7 miles) 7 hrs

  • Today you head home, having experienced a week of exploration which revealed the wilder side of the mountains of Tuscany.

We always aim to complete the proposed itinerary, however it may be necessary for our guides to adjust the daily itinerary based on the weather conditions, group safety and enjoyment.

Accommodation

It is without a doubt that our accommodation at Col di Lavacchio, Tuscany, is a highlight of this trip. Over the years we have without fail had great feedback from our guests who have stayed at this lovely agriturismo property. It is a true haven from the hustle and bustle of modern life, and perfect to catch your breath and relax at the end of a great day of hiking. 

Jamie and Ailsa Reynolds found the abandoned farm in 2003 and embarked on a project to restore it. It is now a productive organic enterprise with extensive grounds where you can wander through the olive and fig trees, and smell the herbs growing in the borders. 

Today the property features 110 olive trees, 40 fruit trees, including apples, apricots, pear and quince, a small vineyard and countless herbs. With some wonderful produce available to buy locally they plant their two vegetable plots with rare or unusual varieties. The fowl include 3 different breeds of duck and 4 rare breeds of hens with numbers ranging from 25 to 70 providing guests with ample organic meat and eggs. On many occasions guests have gone home clutching a jar of one of Ailsa's amazing chutneys!

 

La Fattoria

Hotel

"La Fattoria" is a traditional Garfagnana farmhouse in the remote hamlet of Lavacchio. Chestnut beams, exposed stone and terracotta tiles, combined with antique furniture, art and excellent beds add a touch of luxury to this rural retreat.

There are five bedrooms with three bathrooms, and outside a wisteria clad dining terrace. The sitting room has a wood burning stove. The house is well stocked with books, cards and games. There is a kitchen where you can make teas/coffees and access a fridge, honesty bar and snacks. The terrace is equipped with an enormous barbecue and ancient bread oven. There is a covered table tennis table, marked badminton court, and yoga decking for those who wish to stretch at the end of the day. Depending on the season you will also have access to either the pool or the hot tub with bathrobes available for guests to use.


  • Italy is easily reached by road, rail, coach or plane.

    A private group transfer from Pisa airport to your accommodation is provided on the first day. This takes approximately one hour and normally departs the airport at 1430 hrs. If arriving outside of this time it is very easy to reach the local town of Barga-Gallicano by train, and we will pick you from the station and take you to the farmhouse. The train journey is around 9€ (including the transfer from the airport to the main Pisa station) and takes about 2 hrs. The train line which you need to take to Barga-Gallicano is usually going to Aulla or Piazza al Serchio. Train information and advanced tickets can be bought/sourced here at Trenitalia.

    There are left luggage facilities in the airport (approximately 7€ per day per piece) and the train ticket office and information centres are right next door. There is a station in the terminal and the journey to Pisa Central Station is just 5 minutes. The return fare is approximately 3€. At the end of the holiday there will be a single, timed transfer back to Pisa Airport which departs after breakfast, arriving at the airport for approximately 0930 hrs.

    Please do not hesitate to get in touch to chat through the details. Once you have booked we will send you a list of suggested walking equipment and clothing for the trip.

  • Please note that you must have the appropriate insurance for your chosen activity. As we will be travelling in the mountains, you must be covered for helicopter rescue, repatriation and medical costs. For further details, please ensure you have carefully read the Insurance section of our website.

  • This trip will run once a minimum number of 4 guests have booked, and we will take a maximum of 10 guests. Our trips all have a small maximum group size, since this offers better safety and enjoyment whilst out in the mountains. Additionally, it allow us to work with smaller independent hotels and restaurants where available. We advise you not to make your travel arrangements until the trip is guaranteed to run.

  • We have graded this trip 'Difficult'. You are never higher than 2054 m (6738 ft) altitude, you have a rest day if you wish and are based in one place making it easy to opt out and lie by the pool. However, the walking is sufficiently steep and challenging to also satisfy the 'keen' walker. One guest described it as, "surprising, impressive, challenging, but done in a relaxed fashion." This week combines 'relaxing' with a full day of exercise on trails that in the Apennine are easy and rolling, while in the Apuane they are rocky and steep. We say that in the Apennine you can walk AND look at the views, whereas in the Apuane you need to STOP before looking at the views. Please read the full grade description before booking. 

  • In mountainous terrain the weather can vary considerably. Temperatures in Tuscany can reach over 30°c even in May and June, but can be as low 5°c on the high ridges, and passes in September, and early October. It is often sunny with good clear days, but it can rain and snow (even in September) so you should be prepared for any eventuality. The average temperatures range from 18 - 25°c in the valleys and 10 -15°c on the passes.

  • Due to the specialised nature of our trips, we work with a select number of partners to help ensure your trip reaches its minimum group size to be guaranteed to run. The companies we work with reflect our own ethos and standards in terms of the service we offer to our guests. 


Prices may vary depending on date.

2019

Sat 11 May - Sat 18 May
Code: HHT1 19
Price: £1195 Book
Sat 08 Jun - Sat 15 Jun
Code: HHT2 19
Price: £1195 Book
Sat 07 Sep - Sat 14 Sep
Code: HHT3 19
Price: £1195 Book
Sat 21 Sep - Sat 28 Sep
Code: HHT4 19
Price: £1195 Book

What's Included

  • Breakfast, picnic lunch, and three-course dinner with wine. Based on two people sharing
  • Single rooms available, though limited in number
  • All meals are prepared by our professional chef who uses local seasonal produce.  All dietary requirements can be met
  • Gourmet pizza evening, roll your own and cook in the wood fired oven
  • Wine tasting evening with 6 wines from the Lucca hills made by artisan winemakers
  • The guiding services of a qualified hiking guide
  • On your free day breakfast is provided, but not lunch or dinner to allow you to explore 
  • Complimentary transfer to/from the railway station on your free day, if required
  • Depending on the season, use of the hot tub or the swimming pool
  • Airport transfers, and all transport in Italy on walking days
  • Tracks and Trails gift for the 'outdoors'

What's Not Included

  • Travel Insurance
  • Flights (but we can offer advice on the best flight options)
  • Lunch and dinner on your free day are not provided to allow you to make the most of the day if you choose to visit Lucca or Florence. Return train tickets to Lucca cost approximately 9 Euros and to Florence 21 Euros
  • Massages or reflexology are extras and usually cost 50 Euros per hour

We greatly enjoyed the whole experience, very much a holiday as well as good hiking. The setting was beautiful, accommodation, hosts and food excellent. We particularly enjoyed the excellent guiding, good company and the shared local knowledge including the routes and driving!

Our guide, Lindsay, was amazing with her professionalism and at including everyone ensuring they had a super time. The views stunning, the food amazing, and the accommodation second to none.

Our trip was full of outstanding views of the mountains, and we had an excellent guide. The hospitality at Lavacchio was very warm, and generous with great meals and wines.

A huge thank you for another fantastic and memorable trip. Tuscany was as wonderful as you said it would be. I think the packed lunches were even better than anticipated! I really loved every minute of it…Lavacchio is such a beautiful place and Jamie and Ailsa are brilliant hosts. You work so hard to make the trip a success. You and all the rest of the gang are a great group of people, and it really is a delight to spend a few days with you.

You are such amazing leaders and have everything so fantastically well - organised, yet are always ready to come up with plan B when required! Julia and Sam, you work so hard to make the trip a success… you have succeeded in creating some very special memories for me. You and all the rest of the gang are a great group, and it really is a delight to spend a few days with you.

Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! I usually go for more 'hardcore' treks but on this occasion I was looking for a more relaxing experience. The whole week (hiking, scenery, accommodation, food, company) all met and far exceeded my expectations. I can't recommend this trip enough. A relaxing change for seasoned Trekkers or a great introduction for the uninitiated. 

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Grade: Difficult

READ GRADE DESCRIPTION

At a Glance

From Price £1195
Holiday Type Walking
Duration 8 Days
Group Size 10
Minimum Age 17
Maximum Altitude 2054m (6738ft)
Countries Visited Italy
Meet In Pisa Airport, Italy
View all Walking Holidays