Hiking tours


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 8 and Sept 21 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/agriturismi (2 nights Lucca, 3 nights in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, and 2 nights in Barga)
  • Meals: 7 breakfasts, and 7 dinners. 
  • Luggage: Bags are transferred starting with pick up from Lucca and ending with the final transfer to Lucca train station.
  • Special events: Guided visit of Lucca with specialist guide, cooking course, wine tasting.
  • Transport: Private van transfers as indicated in the itinerary.
  • Active days: 6 days of guided hiking and 1 afternoon in Lucca,
  • Guides: At least 1 bilingual Customwalks guide accompanies departures of 2 - 8 people & 2 guides accompany departures of 9 or more people.
  • Max group size: Tours are capped at 14 pax.

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

Arrive independently in Lucca and check into your pre-booked hotel located just outside the city walls. Meet your guide and the rest of the group at 15:00 in the hotel lobby to depart for a two-hour 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 18:45 for an aperitivo and then dinner together. Overnight Lucca. Overnight LuccaHotel included. Dinner included.

Day 2

After breakfast, we have a 08:30 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 specializing in mushroom dishes. We finish our hike at about 5 p.m. and transfer to our charming small albergo made up of log cabins, lovely grounds and a welcoming bar and restaurant where we dine tonight. The hike: 11.5 km / 7,1 mls, elevation gain: 588 m / 1929 ft, maximum altitude 1.590 m / 5.216 ft Duration: 4 ½ to 5 hours; Difficulty: middle-challenging.Overnight: Careggine. Hotel, breakfast, and dinner included.

Day 3

A 30 minute scenic drive takes us to the trailhead. Our hike gradually scales Monte Tambura. We hike a section of the historic “Via Vandelli” a commercial and military road built between 1739 and 1752 that once connected the city of Modena with the town of Massa on the coast. At the summit we enjoy an expansive view and a yummy picnic lunch before descending. On our way home, we will stop in the village Vagli Sotto for a quick visit and a cold beer at the only bar in town. We get back to our cozy cabins around 15:30 for some down time before dinner in the village.The hike:  11.80 km / 7.35 mls, max altitude: 6213 ft (1894m), elevation gain:1007m/3303 ft, Duration: approx. 5 hours hiking. Difficulty: middle-challenging with a stretch that is challenging to reach the summit. Overnight: Careggine.  Hotel, breakfast, picnic lunch, and dinner included.

Day 4

Today we summit! Yes, again! After a short drive, we arrive at a collection of isolated houses spread out amongst a forest of old chestnut trees. As we hike we pass a number of metati, which are small huts used for drying chestnuts that were used to make the traditional local staple of chestnut flour. The route climbs towards the exposed (but safe) summit of Mount Sumbra (1,754 m/5,800 ft), considered the most spectacular peak of the Apuan Alps. From here we return back along the same path but with a different view, of course!  After this challenging but rewarding hike, we transfer to the Agriturismo Praddiciolo. The rooms are in a tastefully renovated 1800’s barn, located a short walk from the center of Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. We enjoy dinner at Ristorante Al Baretto in the village. The hike: 13 km/8 mls; max altitude: 1767 mt/5797 ft., elevation gain: 914 m/3,000 ft; Duration: approx. 4 ½  to 5 ½ hours. Difficulty: challenging. Overnight Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. Hotel, breakfast, picnic lunch, and dinner included.

Day 5

At an altitude of 1,525 m lies the village of San Pellegrino in Alpe, the highest village in the Apennines. Formerly a stronghold of the region’s defences,  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 the conditions. Before dinner, you will have some free time to explore Castelnuovo. Dinner in the village at Ristorante Il Teatro. The hike: 14,20 km/8.85 mls; elevation gain 293m/963 ft - maximum altitude 1.741m/5711ft; Duration: approx. 4 ½ hrs hiking; Difficulty: easy/moderate, hard packed terrain, some in the bush, some on a dirt road. Overnight: Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.

Day 6

After breakfast, we drive about half an hour to the start of our hike to Monte Forato, the “pierced” mountain. It is one of the most popular destinations in the Apuan Alps thanks to the wonderful trail that leads to the natural arch that unites two peaks creating a large hole visible from miles around. At the end of this very rewarding hike, we check into a special little place on the outskirts of Barga village where you will have your own little wood-panelled chalet in the park of the Villa Nello Castelvecchi, a Liberty Villa with a curious history. Enjoy a little downtime before honing your culinary skills with a cooking class with Rita. She will teach you some local Garfagnana recipes. Tonight, you eat what you cook! The hike:  Loop hike - 10 km/6.21 mls; elevation gain/loss 693m/2273 ft, maximum elevation 1167 mt/ 3828 ft– Duration:  approx. 41/2 to 5 hours hiking; Difficulty: challenging. Overnight Barga. Hotel, breakfast, picnic lunch, and dinner included.

Day 7

One last fabulous hike awaits us! Today, we’ll descend in to the Vallone dell’Inferno (Hell’s Valley), after climbing the summit of Pania della Croce, which at 1,859 m (6,100 ft) is one of the highest mountains of the Apuan Alps. Wonderful views stretch out across the spine of the Apennines to Versilia on the Mediterranean coast. The trail leads us to a charming mountain rifugio for lunch and then we descend along an old mule track to the abandoned village of Col di Favilla. A short drive brings us back to our comfy chalets. This evening, before dinner we have our wine tasting, which is located in an enoteca which is also a craft distillery making specialist gin. This is a new visit for us, but it look like it is gong to both educational and fun! Our final dinner together is at a fantastic, family-run restaurant in the center of historic Barga. The menu features an array of tasty traditional dishes complimented by a wine list featuring excellent local producers.The hike:12.5 km/7.7 mls, elevation gain 768 m/ 2519 ft, maximum altitude 1841mt/6040 ft  Duration: approx 4 ½ to 5 hours hiking. Difficulty: moderate/difficult. Overnight: Barga. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.

Day 8

Departure at the end of the trip: We have a shuttle to the main train station in Lucca. We  arrive around 10:00 am. From Lucca, you can easily go to Florence where you can make connections  to other destinations in Italy and Europe; there are departures for Rome, Pisa, Milan, etc. every hour (see the www.trenitalia.com and www.italotreno.it website for detailed train information). Breakfast and one group transfer 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 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 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

Z tusc mountains quarries
Dolly  view
Castelnuovo di garfagnana and mountains
Lucca from the air
Serchio pass
Affetati  cheese, scaled
Brett  vista
Pania della croce
Z tusc mountains lake
Tusc mountains trail
Standing on ridge
Cute small town, cropped
Orecchiella park
Vitsa thru archway-2
Hiking along ridge
Z tusc mountains 2
Z tusc mountains summit
Z tusc mountains trail 2
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