Hiking through Livornese mountains

Old mills and aqueducts

From Valle Benedetta take Via della Sambuca. Follow the road which becomes a dirt road and after a first uphill stretch, bear left at an obvious junction – you will see the ruins of a windmill on the hill to your left. After about half an hour you come out of the wood into an area with a panoramic view. After a short distance you will reach the ruins (a pile of stones) of an old farmhouse on your right in a scenic position at Calvario. From here you continue downhill where a big, solitary pine tree as a point of reference. From the pine tree, the route continues along the ridge; since there are no signs at first you follow the traces left by hunters, and then following the vague tracks you aim for the valley bottom keeping slightly to the left of the ridge.

This is the stretch of the itinerary that requires careful attention to orientation as you move through thick vegetation. At the bottom of the descent, after about 10 – 15 minutes, you come to an obvious path with a T-junction; bear right here to a simple ford over the river. Almost immediately you reach a wooden hut a short distance from a stone house. From now on you follow the cart track as far as a downward slope that leads out of the scrub; go left downhill and at the next fork, then right through thick vegetation as far as an old mill. Once past the river, turn sharp right (C.A.I. red and white paint sign), skirting the mill building on your left.

The itinerary continues up the valley following the stone structure of the Colognole aqueduct as far as a dirt road where you turn left towards the tarmac road for Collesalvetti which you do not cross. A rough track going uphill is clearly visible to the right, leading to a fork where you go right as far as Casa Pianone. You go along the little avenue of cypress trees and at the gate to the house, turn left and follow the fence to the beginning of a track which goes through thick vegetation (the last stretch follows the power line poles) to the dirt road you took at the beginning of the itinerary, closing the circle and returning to Valle Benedetta.
  
Point of departure and arrival: The Livorno Hills Park
Distance: 7 km
Duration: 3 and a half hours
Type of road: cart tracks and paths
Elevation gain: 340 metres
Difficulty: easy - moderate
Note: This is an itinerary without technical difficulties through an area of great scenic interest. The only part which could present orientation difficulties is the stretch that follows the ridge from Calvario to the river, but there should be no problems if the directions are followed carefully.

Cover image credit: Corrado Matteoni

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