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Canyon Park in Bagni di Lucca
Photo © Alice Russolo
Photo © Alice Russolo

The most beautiful canyons of Tuscany

Spectacular gorges for water adventures near Lucca, Prato and Massa Carrara

Tuscany boasts about 20 wonderful canyons, surrounded by the rugged as well as extraordinary nature, where to live adventurous experiences, outdoor activities such as walking, climbing and swimming, all encapsulated in the so-called canyoning. This discipline, also called "torrentismo" in Italian, involves the exciting descent on foot of streams surrounded by steep cliffs, without the aid of boats but with ropes and any equipment necessary to explore the spots where the ascent or descent becomes too steep. 

Tuscany is very rich in these geological formations, which are found in the northern part of the region, from Calvana to Lunigiana, and offer very different routes in terms of length, height and difficulty. For this reason, canyoning with an experienced guide is recommended.

Contents
  • 1.
    The gorges of the Garfagnana and the Alta Val Fegana
  • 2.
    Diving in Lunigiana
  • 3.
    Canyoning near Prato

The gorges of the Garfagnana and the Alta Val Fegana

Canyoning in Tuscany
Canyoning in Tuscany - Credit: Toscana Promozione Turistica

Adventure dwells at Canyon Park, near Bagni di Lucca in the Val di Lima; official guides will give you a unique experience inside the canyon at Scesta: here you can zipline, launch yourself into natural slides and walk through narrow rock gorges.

The thrills at the water's edge continue in the wild Rio Selvano or dei Pilli, near Fabbriche di Vergemoli. For some, it is the place to practice the most beautiful canyoning in all of Tuscany. With waterfalls, springs of crystal-clear water, even 15-meter rappels, from June to September the Rio Selvano offers exciting canyoning to be experienced safely with the accompaniment of a guide who will provide the necessary equipment.
The nearby resorts of Turrite di San Rocco, Levigliese and Pendolina also offer cool and fun water adventures.

Also in the Garfagnana Media Valle del Serchio area, in the Alta Val Fegana, is Tuscany's most famous canyon, the Orrido di Botri, a spectacular gorge carved by the Rio Pelago surrounded by majestic and wild nature that inspired Dante's imagination to shape his hellish landscapes. The reserve is open in the summer, and guided tours are run by Lucca's Carabinieri biodiversity department.

Diving in Lunigiana

Stretti di Giaredo
Stretti di Giaredo - Credit: We Live we explore

The Stretti di Giaredo represent another wild Eden carved by the Gordana stream, between the territories of Pontremoli and Zeri. They give amazing natural landscapes and equally extraordinary adventures that wind in and out of the water, crossing pristine pools surrounded by multicolored rock walls. Here, rather than canyoning, you do river trekking, which does not involve ropes or rock crossings; you only need to know how to swim.

For more adrenaline-pumping experiences you can head southeast near the town of Bagnone to canyone (remember to wear a wetsuit) in the Acquetta stream, or the Re di Valle stream. The more experienced can opt for the Canale del Pianone, hidden in the hills northeast of Massa, near Resceto. The upper part is fairly easy, while the lower part becomes more complicated with 15-meter falls and pools.

Canyoning near Prato

Flowing down from the Calvana Mountains, the Rio Buti creates natural scenery of rare beauty, just a 15-minute drive from the city of Prato. The left tributary of the Bisenzio River, it is famous for its caves, custodians of fascinating stalactites and stalagmites, and small waterfalls, among them the Pozzo della Morte, a deep-water basin steeped in legend and so named because of some accidents that took place here over the years. Its course is about a kilometer long and has only nine easy obstacles, making it the ideal environment to approach canyoning for the first time.

Also in the Prato area are the Carigiola and Cigno Bianco waterfalls, a protected natural area in the mountains of Alpe di Cavarzano, near the border with Emilia-Romagna. Experts will appreciate the high jumps surrounded by fairy-tale nature of the Cigno Bianco and the continuation of the trail in the gorge of the Carigiola stream.

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