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Photo ©Daniele Paolini

Trails north to south

Hiking from the mountains to the sea

Ciclica.cc by Ciclica.cc

In the mountains, but also at the seaside, there are a few ideas to take note of for your next weekend outdoors or to include in your list of favourite hikes. From north to south, there are many opportunities for hiking and spending long days wandering through nature, where humans have had little to no impact, places with breath-taking views, all waiting to be discovered with outdoor activities. In Tuscany, adventure can be found everywhere.

Orecchiella Park
Pania di Corfino
Pania di Corfino - Credit: Matteo Pieroni

On the border with the Appennino Tosco-Emiliano National Park, Orecchiella is immersed in the lush Garfagnana. At the centre, there’s a mountain that lends its name to the nature reserve, the Pania di Corfino. An Apuan-like massif that exceeds 1,600 metres in height and reachable via a stunning hiking trail along the coast, from its peak you can enjoy views that range from the Apennines to the Apuan Alps to the Garfagnana. The area around Pania also includes the Sasso Rosso summit, an “amusement park” for climbers.

Pistoia Mountain
Pistoia Mountain
Pistoia Mountain - Credit: Marta Mancini

Situated north of Pistoia, on the ridge of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, the Pistoia Mountain is a haven for mountain hiking and trail running, and is home to many unique sceneries. Amongst the most beautiful is Lake Nero, a body of water with glacial origins located 1,730 metres a.s.l. that takes its name from the dark colour of the rocks that are reflected in its waters. The lake is surrounded by the imposing Apennines, which rise up 2,000 metres, and is reachable via the Sestaione Valley, along a trail through forests of fir trees and comprising a few climbs.

The Casentino Forest
The Casentino Forest - Credit: Shutterstock / Cristina Annibali

The Casentino Forest is home to a sacred place where faith and nature blend together: the Camaldoli hermitage and monastery. This community of Benedictine monks was founded by St. Romuald almost 1,000 years ago. Many trails lead there, like the mountain hiking route that starts in Badia Prataglia and leads runners back around in a circular route. This itinerary overlaps for a stretch with the Upper Via dei Parchi, and is immersed in the mystical forests of beech and fir trees.

Val d'Orcia
Val d'Orcia
Val d'Orcia - Credit: Parco Val d'Orcia

Rolling hills and skilfully cultivated fields, the typically Tuscan countryside of the Val d’Orcia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located about halfway along a route that winds across white roads and through two of the most beautiful villages in Tuscany, Pienza and San Quirico d’Orcia, you’ll find the Vitaleta Chapel, a small deconsecrated building nestled between cypress trees and surrounded by a landscape that’s as simple as it is pleasant. It’s easily reachable with a leisurely walk or at a run.

Pisan Mountains
Monte Castellare
Monte Castellare

The small, pleasant mountain chain of the Tuscan Sub-Apennines divides Pisa and Lucca. On trails through plateaus dotted with olive trees and colourful flowers, like the rare orchids that bloom in the springtime, you can reach the modest heights of the dominate over Vecchiano. From here, the view stretches beyond the horizon and ranges from the Apuan Alps to some of the islands in the Tuscan Archipelago. At the foot of the mountain are the Avane cliffs, rocky walls with easy and averagely difficult equipped trails for climbing.

Uccellina Park
Maremma Park
Maremma Park - Credit: Antonio Cinotti

Located in the Grosseto Maremma, the Uccellina Mountains rise up near the coast with hill-level altitudes and are covered in dense vegetation. Amidst aromas of Mediterranean scrub and lush forests, an easy hiking route leads to the Abbey of San Rabano. Built between the 11th and 12th century, it was originally a Benedictine monastery with an annexed watch tower known as the Torre dell’Uccellina. The trail continues to the sea, specifically the splendid and wild Cala di Forno beach.