Winter has finally arrived in Tuscany. The snow and bitter cold make it the ideal time for a trip to the mountains, not only for skiing, but also to experience the unique atmosphere of the villages immersed in the snow-covered forests. Here are 5 ways to spend a weekend in nature.
Let's start from Cutigliano on the Pistoia Mountains. In the picturesque medieval village, time seems to stand still among the streets, squares and centuries-old buildings such as the Palazzo dei Capitani della Montagna which dates back to the 14th century and preserves around 100 coats of arms and heraldic insignia on the main facade, made from stone and polychrome terracotta. The town is the ideal place to stay for winter sports lovers given that it's located just a short distance from the Doganaccia ski area with its ten kilometers of slopes, wonderful training grounds, and cross-country skiing tracks.
We head to Monte Amiata to discover Abbadia San Salvatore. First, it was a medieval village, and later became a mining centre. It's a charming corner of Tuscany with a beautiful Abbey founded in 750 by the Lombard King Ratchis around which was built the still-intact historical part of the village, with its narrow and fascinating alleys, centuries-old stone doors, and breathtaking view over the Val d'Orcia. From here, you can leave to go skiing on the Amiata slopes which offer suitable routes for both beginners and experts, as well as perfect trails for snowshoeing in the woods.
From Monte Amiata, we travel towards the Casentinesi Forests Monte Falterona and Campigna Park to discover the village of Badia Prataglia and its castelletti, the small inhabited centres scattered among the chestnut and fir woods. Badia Prataglia is an excellent starting point for excursions in the woods, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. A few kilometres away, you can visit the monastic complex of Camaldoli with the Sacred Hermitage and Monastery, places of faith immersed in nature.
Those who love the mountains mustn't miss Castiglione di Garfagnana, a charming fortified village where you can admire Castello del Leone, the Rocca, the city walls and the lovely church of San Michele. From the Baluardo della Torricella, you can enjoy a unique view of the Apennines and the Apuan Alps and from here you can easily reach the Casone di Profecchia slopes which are perfect for beginners, where there are also many routes for Nordic skiing that weave through the woods.
The last stop in our travel tips is in Lunigiana, the mysterious borderland between Tuscany, Emilia and Romagna: Bagnone, a historic village which according to local legends contains a unique lucky charm: a Florentine giglio (lily), engraved on the columns of the medieval arcades that would attract wealth and good luck, a belief that was renewed when a few years ago a lucky unknown man won 149 million euros playing the Superenalotto.
After touching the magic lily, you can stop in Zum Zeri for a day of fun at high altitude on the 12 kilometres of ski slopes from where you can also enjoy a unique panorama with a view that reaches the sea on clear days.