Point of departure and arrival: Castagneto Carducci
Distance: 12 km
Duration: 6 and a half hours
Type of road: cart tracks and paths
Elevation gain: about 320 metres
Note: This circle is formed by two footpaths: the ancient Via Campigliese (route No. 1, red signs) and the Molini footpath (route No. 2, blue signs). The itinerary does not present any technical difficulties, but the second part requires particular attention to orientation, so follow the directions carefully and keep your eyes open for the signs on route No. 2. The distance and difference in altitude can be reduced by taking Via Nemorense which leads back to Castagneto at two points of the route (from Crociale and shortly after the Bolla del Conte Piero): these detours are also recommended for those who want to do the route by mountain bike. It is advisable to take along the map (1:15.000) produced for hiking enthusiasts by the Castagneto Carducci Town Council and the Associazione Messidoro.
The route starts from the big car park near the Parco delle Rimembranze. You begin walking downhill on tarmac to the fork on the right onto Via Nemorense, recognisable by some newly-built homes. After about 100 metres you continue on the concrete road that rises steeply to the ridge separating Castagneto from Sassetta and towards Via Campigliese. Once past the built-up area, you walk along a dirt road that continues uphill through oak trees and is marked by a sign indicating route No. 1. The first part (15 – 20 minutes) going uphill is followed by a pleasant up and down stretch that goes through chestnut trees around the western side of Poggio Carpineta.
A short detour to the top (on the right) is recommended where there is a fire look-out point. The itinerary continues towards Poggio Tizzone and a charcoal burners’ hut (reconstruction), and shortly after, a stretch of the original paved Via Campigliese. The climb continues to the so-called Crociale which is recognisable from a concrete electricity pole. The footpath to Sassetta starts on the left (it comes out near Hotel La Selva), while on the right is the path down to Via Nemorense which can be taken as a short-cut back to Castagneto. Our itinerary continues straight ahead on the now-easy cart track that follows the ridge to the 520 metres high Capo di Monte, the highest point of the route.
Keep to the main trail, avoiding all the possible detours, and crossing two evident clearings (the second with a ruin and, on the left, a detour to nearby Sassetta) to Piano dei Brizzi. Here there is a pinewood and an old farmhouse with stables to the left of the trail. Where the pinewood ends at Case la Fiora, the track bends to the left. Here, on the right, is the start of route No. 2, which returns to Castagneto along the Valle dei Mulini. From now on, follow the blue signs of route No. 2, known as “Sentiero dei Molini”. Shortly after you come to a fork near a century-old oak tree in the middle of the road, from here you go right downhill to a crossroad (near a fenced area where hunting is forbidden) where you go right again following the No. 2 route signs.
Soon after, the trail follows a wide bend to the left before a fork where you bear left downhill. A little later you come to a little house and the intakes of the Castagneto aqueduct (Bolla del Conte Piero). The itinerary continues along the main track as far as a dirt road. Here you continue right for about 100 metres as far as a concrete electricity pole where you leave the dirt road to take a path on the left that slopes steeply down towards the Fosso dei Molini. Carrying straight on along the dirt road you arrive comfortably at Castagneto (about 5km).
Walk through the thick vegetation following the blue route No. 2 signs, avoiding all the possible detours and following the path along the stream. On the way you will cross two nineteenth-century bridges (Ponte Lungo di Sopra and Ponte Lungo di Sotto) built for the aqueduct. Between the two bridges is a fork where you keep to the left, but be careful because the signpost is often hidden by the vegetation. The trail continues downhill following the stream (which is crossed a couple of times). Shortly after you come to the ruins of the Molino di Cima, now almost completely hidden by the vegetation.
A little further on are the ruins of the Molino di Mezzo with its two millstones. The road now becomes wider and easier and you pass the Trogolello farmhouse (on the right) and then between market gardens and poultry runs until you skirt the boundary fence of Molino Rotone, now renovated and inhabited. Near the entrance to Rotone (reference point: fire-fighting water tank) bear right along the last stretch uphill towards Castagneto village.
Source: Costa degli Etruschi
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