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Tuscany Mountains Hiking Tour

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  • Location: Italy
  • Duration: 8 Days/7 Nights.
  • Departing from: Lucca at 9 a.m. on Day 2
  • Tour finishes: Lucca train station, Saturday morning, Day 8
  • Departures 2024: June 10 and Sept 22 plus private departures.
  • Price 2024: Euro €3,550 per person in double occupancy. Single supplement Euro €480. One guide accompanies departures of 2 - 8 people, two guides for 9 or more.

We developed this Tuscany Mountains Hiking Tour for those of you who want a challenging and rewarding week of hiking away from the crowds. Indeed, it is rare that we encounter anyone else on the trail, other than Italian rock climbers, on their way to their next climb. This is a remote, untouristed part of Tuscany where locals still live in the towns and villages. It feels authentic because it is. During the day, our guides will lead you along a web of trails to explore this isolated area's beautiful valleys and unexpected rocky peaks. In the evenings, you will be back in the comfort of four-star accommodation in beautiful and historic towns. Lucca, founded by the Romans and famed for its 14th-century city walls, hosts you for two nights. Restaurants, cafés, and wine bars line the streets and ring the piazzas in old Lucca. Castelnuovo di Garfagnana and Barga will beguile you with their quiet charm. Both are medieval towns nestled amongst verdant valleys fed by the Serchio River.  They are off the usual Tuscan beaten track, which allows us to take you to genuine trattorias for some truly local cuisine and atmosphere. Of course, this is Tuscany, so the wine list does not disappoint. So, if you have already done our Dolomites Grand Traverse and want something similar, then this is the tour for you. The hikes are as challenging as the Dolomites, maybe even more so, with the added attraction of more historical and cultural content and free time to explore the towns and villages where we stay.

Tuscany Mountains Hiking Tour Includes

 

  • Accommodation: 7 nights accommodation in 4-star hotels (2 nights Lucca, 3 nights Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, 2 nights Barga).
  • Meals: 7 breakfasts, 2 picnics, a light farm lunch, and 7 dinners
  • Luggage: Bags are transferred from hotel to hotel starting with pick-up from Lucca and ending with the final transfer to the Lucca train station
  • Special events: Guided tour of Lucca, wine tasting and olive oil tasting during farm lunch, cooking class in Lucca, Villa Reale visit
  • Transport: Private van transfers as indicated in the itinerary
  • Active days: 7 days of activity, including 6 days of guided hiking
  • Guides: At least 1 bilingual Customwalks guide accompanies departures of 2 - 8 people; 2 guides accompany departures of 9 to 14 people.

Booking: Please e-mail us at info@customwalks.com to receive a booking contract or simply click on the BOOK NOW button or the 'Contact Us' tab. Thanks!

Tuscany Mountains Hiking Tour itinerary Request full itinerary

Day 1 Lucca: The City of Walls. Guided Visit

Arrive independently in Lucca and check into your pre-booked 4-star hotel, the Hotel Ilaria, located just inside the city walls, in the very center of Lucca. Meet your guide and the rest of the group at 3:30 pm in the hotel lobby to depart for an hour-and-a-half guided visit of fascinating Lucca with a specialist city guide. Lucca was an important city in Roman times and later became one of the great city-states of Medieval Tuscany. Reconvene at 18:30 for an aperitivo and then dinner together.  Overnight Lucca at the four-star Hotel IlariaThe Hike: Urban walking through Lucca. Duration 2.5 hrs.  Hotel, welcome aperitif, and dinner included.

Day 2 The Villa Reale di Marlia and Lucca’s Verdant hills

After breakfast, we have a short van ride to the enchanting Villa Reale di Marlia. Considered one of the most important historical properties in Italy, the Villa Reale in fact consists of two Palaces, a 15th-century Italian Renaissance villa and a 17th-century villa with an iconic clock tower. The 30-acre estate features glorious gardens and parkland that were created in the second half of the sixteen hundreds and are  marked by  Italian Renaissance and Baroque  gardens. Once owned and lived in by Napoleon’s sister, and the Bourbon Royal family, this is both a beautiful and fascinating visit. We exit the villa on foot and begin our warm-up hike through olive groves and vineyards to stop at a farm for a wine and olive oil tasting during a light lunch. We return to Lucca in the early afternoon, so you  will have time to relax at the hotel or explore Lucca’s Medieval streets, alleyways, and piazzas before a fun and instructive cooking class with a professional chef. You will want to pay attention because your dinner will be what you cook! The Hike: Villa visit and loop hike. Aproximately 8 km / 5 mls. Elevation gain/loss 141 m / 462ft, Duration: 4 ½  hours; Difficulty: easy. Overnight Lucca. Breakfast, farm lunch, and dinner included.

Day 3 Ponte del Diavolo and Monte Pania di Corfino

After breakfast, we have a 09:00 a.m. transfer to the mountains. We stop on the way to admire the medieval Ponte del Diavolo, which has been gracefully spanning the river for 800 years. We continue to the National Park of Orecchiella and start our hike above the tree line.  We have a sustained climb to the top of Pania di Corfino, which, at 1,610m (5,250 ft), is one of the highest mountains of the Apuan Alps. You will be rewarded with wonderful views across the Apennines and as far as Versilia on the Mediterranean coast. We descend a track to Campaiana, a high pasture where, for centuries, shepherds have brought their animals for summer grazing. We have lunch in a small osteria. If it is the mushroom season, the menu features delicious pasta with mushrooms picked that morning from the adjacent forest. We finish our walk at about 4 p.m and transfer to the evocative medieval village of Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. Dating back to the 8th century, Castelnuovo di Garfagnana developed into an important market town during the early medieval period. Most buildings you will see in the historic center date from the 12th and 13th centuries. You will stay at the Hotel Villa Bertagni, a gracious 18th-century country house on the outskirts of town. We will take you for dinner at a cozy local trattoria in the village. The Hike: 12.5 km / 7,8 mls, elevation gain/loss 1000 m / 3280ft, maximum altitude 1.610m / 5.216 ft Duration: 4 ½ to 5 hours; Difficulty: middle-challenging. Overnight Castelnuovo Garfagnana. Breakfast, dinner, and hotel included.

Day 4 Monte Sumbra. The Brute

Today, we summit!  After a 35-minute drive, we arrive at a small isolated hamlet whose stone houses and barns are nestled amongst a forest of magnificent old chestnut trees. As you hike through the woods, you will pass a number of metati, small huts where chestnuts were stored and dried before being milled to make the once-local staple of chestnut flour. The trail soon steepens, and you will climb above the treeline towards the barren, rocky summit of Mount Sumbra (1,754 m/5,800 ft), an imposing and spectacular peak. From its summit, you will have a breathtaking view of most of the surrounding mountains of the “Apuan Alps.” We return along the same path but with a different view, of course! We have a picnic lunch today. In ideal conditions, you will savor it from the summit of Monte Sumbra, or perhaps in a more sheltered location off the mountain.  After this challenging and rewarding hike, you will be happy to return to the comfort of the Villa Bertagni where you might even chill out by the pool before dinner in the village.  The Hike: 13 km/8 mls; elevation gain: 1660 m/5,446 ft; Duration: approx. 5  to 6 hours. Difficulty: challenging. Overnight Castelnuovo Garfagnana. Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner, and hotel included.

Day 5 San Pellegrino in Alpe or Monte Tambura

A scenic thirty-minute drive brings us to an altitude of 1,525 m/4,880 ft and the village of San Pellegrino in Alpe, the highest village in the Apennines. Formerly a stronghold of the region’s defenses, it is the starting point for today's hike. We follow an ancient mule track through the village and up to the cross of Saint Pelligrino, where the Saint reputedly resisted the devil’s temptations. To this day, pilgrims come here as a sign of devotion and penance. You can atone for your sins by carrying a stone to the site. However, the stone must also reflect the size of your sin! More importantly, the view is wonderful, and the path continues to reward us as we loop back to the village. We have lunch in a rifugio, or back in the village, depending on timing and weather conditions. Before dinner, you will have some free time to explore Castelnuovo. The Hike: 14,20 km/8.85 mls; elevation gain/loss 530m/1.738 ft - maximum altitude 1.715m/5.626ft; Duration: approx. 4 ½ hrs; Difficulty: easy/moderate, hard packed terrain, some in the bush, some on a dirt road. The Challenging Hike option. If the conditions are good, and operationally we can do it (I.e, we have two guides and two vans or everyone in the group wants to do it) then we can offer you the challenging “Via Vandelli” route to the summit of Monte Tambura. The Via Vandelli is a historic commercial and military road built in the 18th century. It is an out-and-back hike.  Distance: 11.80 km / 7.35 mls, max altitude: 6205 ft (1891m), elevation gain/loss: 1033 m/3390 ft Physically challenging with some technical ridge hiking which require good balance and foot placement. Overnight Castelnuovo Garfagnana. Hotel, breakfast, and dinner included.

Day 6 Monte Forato, the Pierced Mountain

Today, we take you to Monte Forato peak, “the Pierced Mountain”. This hike is one of the most popular destinations in the Apuan Alps, so we might actually see some other hikers today. This is a beautiful trail that starts from the ancient village of Fornovolasco. You will hike through the village and climb up through the forest, then pastures to get to the natural rock arch that unites two peaks. The “Pierced” mountain is visible from miles around. We will picnic here so you will have time to gaze through the arch at the vast panorama below you. After this rewarding hike, we have a 30-minute drive to our next hotel, an Art Nouveau villa transformed into a small boutique hotel. Original frescoes and furnishings give the villa a special and unique style all its own. The hotel is in the delightful town of Barga. A 10-minute walk will take you into the Old Quarter, where you can explore the medieval walls or enjoy a drink in the piazza. We meet up for dinner in the village. The Hike:  Loop hike - 10 km/6.21 mls; elevation gain/loss 800m/2624 ft – Duration:  approx. 4 to 5 hours hiking; Difficulty: challenging. Overnight Barga. Hotel, breakfast, picnic lunch, and dinner included.

Day 7 Summit Pania della Croce

One last fabulous hike awaits us! Follow your guides as they lead you to the summit of Pania della Croce, (1,859 m/ 6,100 ft) for epic views that stretch out across the spine of the Apennines to Versilia on the Mediterranean coast. The trail leads us to a charming mountain Rifugio (hut) that sits in a sunny meadow just above the beech forest. We have lunch here before  descending a section of the famous “Vallone dell’inferno” - “the Hell’s Valley” that can indeed become an inferno during the torrid months of July and August. Worry not; we don’t hike in those months here, and we will soon enter the cool embrace of the beech forest to return to our vans. A short drive brings us back to our comfy hotel for a little downtime before our final aperitif. Our last dinner is at a lovely, family-run restaurant in the center of historic Barga. The menu features an array of tasty traditional dishes complimented by a wine list of excellent local producers. We raise a glass to toast a week of fulfilling hikes, unforgettable vistas, and the camaraderie born of mutual achievement. The Hike:13.5 km/8.40 mls, elevation gain/loss 1.073 m/ 3.380 ft, Duration: approx 4 ½ to 5 hours hiking. Difficulty: challenging. Overnight Barga. Hotel, breakfast, farewell aperitif and dinner included.

Day 8 Goodbye!

The tour finishes after breakfast with one group transfer to the Lucca train station that will arrive in time for ten o’clock trains to other destinations. Travel time to Florence's main train station is 80 minutes. From there you can catch a taxi or a convenient tram to Florence airport. Travel time to Pisa airport from Lucca train station is 50 minutes. If you need an earlier transfer to Florence or Pisa airports, we can make those arrangements for you. Breakfast and one group transfer are included.

Please note: Some details of the itinerary may change according to the departure date of your tour. Whenever we run a tour we make new discoveries. Sometimes they are good discoveries, like a wonderful new trattoria, and sometimes they are bad, like a trail has been washed away. The result is that we sometimes change our itinerary to improve it by adding new wonderful elements to the tour or by removing something that does not work anymore. Rest assured, our goal is to always provide you with the best possible experience. We will advise you of any changes to the original itinerary prior to departure.  

The Hikes in the Garfagnana region of Tuscany

The hikes are quite mountainous, with a fair amount of elevation gain and loss on hiking trails. These are challenging hikes and are not appropriate for first time hikers. We have designed the trip so that there is always some free time in the late afternoon so you can relax, read, or enjoy the towns where we stay. Breakfast is included every day, and dinners reflect the excellent traditional food of the region. Daily distance between 8 and 14 kms.

Activity level 4 out of 5 = Rewarding:
In general: A Rewarding tour for fit hikers who will find them a satisfying and challenging workout. Not appropriate for unfit hikers.
Terrain: Rolling and often steep terrain. Challenging uphills and downhills are encountered. Often rugged and even terrain.
Actual hiking time: between 4-6 hours per day, mostly in the morning but also in the afternoon.
Distances: Usually between 10 and 15kms/6 and 9 miles. Max distance is 18 kms/11 miles.
Surfaces: Trails consisting of compact earth, gravelly earth, and sometimes dirt-gravel roads and frequently on rocky and uneven trails. Ancient stone staircases and trails with stone steps are often present. Somewhat overgrown trails are sometimes encountered.
Footing: Good to tricky. You must pay attention to where and how you place your feet. Proper hiking shoes or boots with thick soles with good treads are required. Sport sandals, running shoes and tennis shoes are not adequate.
Specifics: On day 4 we ascend Mount Sumbra which entails an almost 1000 metre/3,200 feet climb and then descent.
Hiking Poles: Highly recommended and your guides will mutter to themselves when they see you did not bring any poles. If you don’t bring your poles and ask your guide to use his or hers, they will refuse because they need them!   
Compared to the Cinque Terre: More difficult than the Cinque Terre mostly because the distances are longer. If you enjoyed the hikes on the Cinque Terre and want to hike more, then these 4 rated “Rewarding” tours are perfect for you.
Compared to our Dolomites Grand Traverse, and Alta Via hikes: This tour is as challenging as those tours. In the Dolomites, we can often “cheat” by taking a ski-lift either up or down the mountain but on this tour, there are no lifts available. In the Dolomites we frequently hike at about 2,000 meters/6,600 feet with some higher points. The hikes on this tour are lower. Maximum altitude is 1,859 meters/5,950 ft.
Other: These tours are not appropriate for first time hikers. People with hip and knee issues might find that these 4 rated tours will aggravate your pre-existing injuries. Hikers need to be fit, happy hikers who can easily hike for five hours a day and who are also used to negotiating rocky, uneven terrain.
Rewarding Tours: Classic Dolomites Hike, Tuscany Mountains. 
As a point of reference, what is a 1 out of 5 Activity rating? A 1 out of 5 rated tour is a tour without any hiking. Hikes would be in towns, cities, and villages, and the countryside hikes would be on paved, or gravel/dirt roads, and occasionally on some packed earth trails. Elevation gain and loss would be negligible.
As a point of reference, what is a 5 out of 5 Activity rating? A 5 out of 5 rated tour is a tour that would be physically challenging and technically difficult even for very fit and experienced hikers. The hikes would have steep ascents and descents on narrow, exposed trails with challenging footing, such as on scree fields, or through rock falls and boulders. Distances would be up to 25 km/16 miles per day and feature ascents of over 1,000 m/3,200 feet in a day. A 5 out of 5 tour would also mean that you would be carrying a heavier-than-normal pack. None of our tours are rated 5 out 5. Our most challenging tours are 4.5 out of 5, and they are the Dolomites Alta Via (because of some exposed trail that requires some technical expertise) and our Republic of Georgia tour which has some long hikes with over 1,000 meters of elevation gain.

Getting There: Lucca is a small city on the Tuscan coast, not far from Florence and Pisa. It is easily accessible by train from either of those cities.

Air: The Florence and Pisa airports are convenient to the start and end of the trip and are well connected to other European cities like London, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Munich and Brussels. For a complete list of Italian airports and a selection of low-cost airlines, see our "Transport Info" page.

Rail: Lucca is only 20 minutes by train from Pisa (2 departures per hour), and trains from Florence take about 1.5 hours, departures every hour. See the Trenitalia website (in English) at this link. For alternative high-speed rail travel, see the Italo website. For complete information on using the Italian train system, see our blog post.

Getting Away at the End of the Trip: the trip ends after breakfast on Day 7 with a transfer to the Lucca train station for 10:00 departures.

If you book a trip with us you will receive detailed information about how to get to and from the trip, and of course you can e-mail us with any questions.

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by John C
Posted Nov 01, 2023

This was our second Customwalks trip in Italy and we enjoyed it very much. We weren’t sure what hiking in NW Tuscany would be like, and we were one couple meeting a group of strangers, but it worked out great. Food everywhere was quite good. Accommodations were as advertised. Most importantly the guides were so knowledgeable and able to adjust the schedule to deal with the often poor weather that came a little early this year. Thanks to Marco and Dennis for a great time.



If you have any questions or specific requests about any of our tours, we’re here to help. You can fill in the form below, send us an email, or call us and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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This was our second Customwalks trip in Italy and we enjoyed it very much. We weren’t sure what hiking in NW Tuscany would be like, and we were one couple meeting a group of strangers, but it worked out great. Food everywhere was quite good. Accommodations were as advertised. Most importantly the guides were so knowledgeable and able to adjust the schedule to deal with the often poor weather that came a little early this year. Thanks to Marco and Dennis for a great time.
by John C


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