Natura and Trekking

Crossing the Apuan Alps

Introduction - The Alps in Tuscany

In the spring of 2020 we created this itinerary with need to get back to walking. We know that many of us dream of a summer on unfrequented trails, not far away. We all dream of spending nights in the embrace of nature, free from anxieties and fears. That’s why, by taking part in this trek through some of the most beautiful corners of the Apuan Alps, you can bring your own tent, your own mattresses and your own sleeping bag. Alternatively, you can use one of the tents that we will provide. We will take care of transporting your luggage and equipment between the various stages. You will then be able to walk lightly, accompanied by a guide and carrying in your backpack only the essentials for your day in the open air

The itinerary we propose starts from one of the most isolated and fascinating villages in Garfagnana: Roggio. The village, at 800 metres above sea level, set among green chestnut woods and is the ideal place from which to start venturing on these beautiful mountains, beginning your journey on foot from a place that iconically and profoundly represents the land of Garfagnana. While touching  peaks (Pania della Croce, Sumbra and Monte Forato) and well-known places, we have tried to join together an unusual route to offer you a new angle, a new approach and a new experience. We will end the journey on foot in Fornovolasco, another of our favourite places. We will return to Castelnuovo di Garfagnana using a fun and environmentally friendly way of transport: the electric mountain bike.

We invite you to read the story of this original trip in the Apuan Alps.

  • Duration: 5 days (possible extension to 7 days with Apennine crossing)
  • Type: Trekking itinerary with luggage transport.
  • Accommodation: Resorts, tents and holiday homes.
  • Difficulty / Commitment: 5/6 (on a scale of 1 to 12). Route involving 5 to 7 hours of walking per day. Alternating between demanding days with moderate differences in height and easier days. Challenging terrain in places on paths that may have short sections with technical difficulties. 

Programme

For those who join us today, there will be a private bus transfer from Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, where we will finish our route.

Cradled among luxuriant forests of centennial chestnut trees centennial, the village of Roggio is a strategic starting point for our trek. We take an ancient path that is now at the edge of the village and soon we are surrounded only by acres and acres of green woods. In the pass, this part of the itinerary was used by flocks of sheep and shepherds who used it to climb up to high-altitude pastures. We find evidence of this when we cross, after about 45 minutes of walking, a well-preserved Majesty (small votive chapel).

From here we follow the dirt road that takes us to the ancient alpine pasture of Campocatino. The itinerary now points decisively towards the Apuan bastions of Monte Tambura, but after a stretch of adventurous, little-used path, we cross a marble road. We follow it downhill and then take the old road known as the “Todt” road, named after the German forced labour company that during the Second World War used local labour to carry out works to support the deployment of the Allemannic forces. The old road has been eroded by the weather in several places, but its structure is still visible and, above all, it is possible to walk along it.

Coming out of the forest, we are surprised by the bare, extensive grassy slopes that overlook the Passo Sella, a mighty mountain ridge swept by the wind in every season. Following the changing contours, we head towards one of the most beautiful ridge paths in the Apuan Alps, a thin path that takes us out of the way by skilfully manoeuvring around boulders and exposed places. Always offering priceless views and panoramas.

Just below the summit of Monte Sumbra, we reach a wide rocky saddle that invites us to take a relaxing break in a grandiose setting. From here we gain the summit by ascending a short stretch of path equipped with a metal cable.

The descent along the opposite side of Monte Sumbra is fun and satisfying. Between rocky steps and stretches of ridge, small beech trees twisted by the wind on the edge of the high walls and other majestic trees a little lower down, we cross different areas and landscapes and then take the last stretch of path that leads to the small village of Capanne di Careggine. And even this last stretch is up to the task, giving us splendid views and unusual passages between rocky walls.

At Capanne di Careggine, welcomed by our friend Marco, we stay in comfortable apartments from which the view sweeps over the Panie group and Monte Corchia, the mountains towards which we are heading.

Included: Lunch at Sacco/Dinner

After a long and adventurous first day, a shorter and more relaxing stage awaits us today. This allows us to enjoy our breakfast in peace and quiet, with magnificent views of the surrounding mountains. The first part of today’s route takes us down into the valley below, where we cross the dam of the Isola Santa reservoir to catch a glimpse of the small stone village, set in a fairytale valley, on the shores of the lake. The green waters and the backdrop of deep chestnut woods emphasise the harmony of these ancient houses that seem to rediscover their origins and community identity in the elegant forms of the finally restored church.

From here the path climbs gently at first, almost as if to allow us a slow, gentle approach, then more decisive and without too many bends to gain significant height in a short distance, passing traces still visible to the attentive eye of the terrible flood that devastated this and other landscapes in the 1990s.

As we climb up through the chestnut trees, we reach the abandoned village of Col di Favilla. One of the last eminent descriptions we have of this place was given to us by a young man, Fosco Maraini, who found a refuge to spend the night and face the next day the imperious mass of Pizzo delle Saette, rocky face tha rises above the wooded landscape on wich lies the village.

From Col di Favilla to the Alpeggio di Puntato, the path often allows us to catch our breath with pleasant flat intervals in a gentle succession of ups and downs. Near the little stone church of the alpine pasture, you will be surprised by the beech trees neatly arranged in rows on both sides of the path, which now, in the last stretch, are still adorned with green boxwood hedges. At the side of the little church, on the other hand, a wide clearing allows us to rest our eyes on the steep slopes of Monte Freddone, at the foot of which, among the dense woodland, we can make out the grey stone of the Baita Il Robbio, our destination. About a kilometre from here we pick up our luggage, transported from the bottom of the valley to this altitude using an ingenious cable car and take it with us to the Baita where we will spend the night.

Our friend Mauro will be happy to give us useful tips on how to use the facilities available, and then serve us a good meal at the charming hut.

The mountain pasture is a silent place where we are magically given the opportunity to return to breathe in the real scent of nature and things. Capturing the magic of the light breeze through the chestnut leaves, this place evokes a harmony between man and his environment that is more meaningful than any words. That is why spending an afternoon being rocked by the mountain is one of the greatest gifts this experience can give us. And early evening comes when nature enchants us. And with the evening comes the scent of wood and the kitchen from which simple, good dishes arrive on the table. A special evening.

INCLUDED: Breakfast/lunch at the refuge/dinner

From our stop-over point we can now climb two Apuan peaks from which we can admire beautiful landscapes through little-visited and wild places.

Our day begins by tackling the steep ascent of Monte Freddone. At first we follow traces of ancient charcoal burners’ paths, where they have not been erased or cleverly camouflaged by time, then we abandon all hesitation and cautiously climb the steep slope, among sharp boulders and the scent of savory.

Once we reach the crest, we will venture to follow the flight that leads to the summit, a modest but surprising elevation from which the Apuan peaks of much higher stature stand out all around us, drawing the mirage of these luminous mountains rising just a stone’s throw from the sea. As if by magic.

The descent challenges us to contain our impetus in order to find safe footing, and through steep woods we suddenly find ourselves on the old marble road, which in the past saw the marble blocks extracted on this side of Monte Corchia descend into the valley.

We follow it, appreciating its gradual transformation into a comfortable path over the years, as only our shoes tread on the ground where lorries used to pass. Once we reach the silent, inactive and abandoned mining sites, we proceed to reach the summit ridge, which is now within reach.

From there to the summit and from the summit to the descent on the opposite side, the itinerary offers us grandiose views of the Panie group, the Tuscan coast, Garfagnana and the distant Apennine profile.

At Foce di Mosceta we return to the level and comfort of a path that winds its way smoothly between the highest peaks in this area before plunging into the shade of the beech trees and continuing at about the same altitude to the fascinating geometry of the terraces of the Alpeggio di Puntato, conquered over the centuries by man with the work of many summers and many hands.

Our friend Mauro is waiting for us with the kitchen smoking, and in the air we anticipate dinner. One more evening in this little paradise in the green. One more night in the embrace of the mountains.

INCLUDED: Breakfast/Backpack Lunch/Dinner

After breakfast we will pack up our luggage and take it back to the cableway, from where we will continue our journey to the next stop.

After that, with our small backpack on our shoulders, we will return to the foot of Pania della Croce. This time to climb up the large, steep grassy slope to the crest and from the crest reach the summit and the cross that dominates the Versilia coast. And it is not surprisingly that, reaffirming the title that this peak boasts, we now find ourselves walking among the stones and palaeo of the Queen of the Apuan Alps. Lady of these landscapes and cradle of many young and old, who love to spend the warm summer nights on this peak to admire the spectacle of dawn.

The small village of Fornovolasco lies down there, on the distant valley floor. It will be a long descent to leave behind the 1858 metres of the summit and reach the 480 metres of coolness that the limpid waters of the Turrite di Petrosciana create inside the village.( ps tolto quello che viene dopo, But we are careful not to lose altitude and soon reach the village.

Once arrived at the Foce di Valli pass, we abandon on the descent and instead we follow the amusing ridge that allows us to reach the most famous stone acrobatics in the Apuan Alps: the natural arch of Monte Forato, where the rock throws itself into the void to amaze us by tracing an impossible ring. Now, from the ring, we will be able to lose altitude, and without remorse reach Foce di Petrosciana with splendid views of another bizarre formation: Monte Procinto.

With a cut halfway up the slope under Monte Croce we will reach an almost secret place at the bottom of a canyon where our friend Adolfo has created his little paradise. A different location from the previous ones, in the thick of a forest.

Barbecue and travel stories will cheer up the evening.

INCLUDED: Breakfast/Pack Lunch/Dinner

This is the last day of our intense journey in the Apuan Alps. After breakfast we descend along the canyon carved by the stream, in about an hour’s walk we will find the refreshing waters that cross the small village of Fornovolasco, an ancient area of iron mines and furnaces. It is here that our walk will end but not our route. Hidden high up and around the Panie group we know there are small villages of just a few houses and great charm. Perched on hidden plateaus amidst the greenery stand up  among others, the small bell towers of Vergemoli, Calomini and Brucciano. To reach them all and visit them to deepen our knowledge of this stupendous territory from the corrugated and bewitching orography, we have today a brilliant means.We ride our electric bikes up the road through the woods, easily overcoming climbs of up to 10% and quickly gaining height, leaving the entrance to the famous Grotta del Vento behind us. It is only a little higher up that this quiet little road catches its breath and allows for flat tracts. Behind the winding curves of this track we discover beautiful views of the landscape and, one after the other, the small villages that still have inhabitants.PS TOGLIERE QUELLO CHE SEGUE, clinging to the future with tenacity. Few cars travel along this route and the silence of the mountains and our vehicles allow us to fully enjoy the pleasant breeze as we circumnavigate the mountains, stopping to explore each village to capture its magic. After the villages of Eglio and Sassi, a small white church from which you can admire the Garfagnana valley, we take one last descent and finally reach the bottom of the valley, entering Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. It will be the moment in which raising a glass we will toast to the days spent together, hoping to have made you live days of serenity and exciting discoveries.

INCLUDED: Breakfast

Details

Baggage

In the 25/30 litre rucksack that you will take with you along the way:

  • 1 dry T-shirt
  • Waterproof jacket (waterproof trousers if desired) for the rain
  • Sun protection (cream, glasses, hat)
  • Water bottles (enough to hold at least 2 litres on longer walking days)
  • Small plastic container for sandwiches and snacks
  • Lightweight gloves

Climate

Along the route we will experience very different micro climatic situations. Some places are particularly hot and temperatures can reach 26/28 degrees Celsius. Other places are cooler with very low temperatures, especially in the early hours of the day and at sunset (5/10 degrees). It is also important to remember that the Apennine watershed attracts strong and violent summer storms to its peaks, with thunderstorms and hail accompanied by winds that further lower the perceived and actual temperatures. These can, in the case of strong storms at high altitudes (1600/1800 m) drop to 0 degrees or slightly more during the event.

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