Tuscany is a mecca for those who enjoy sporty activities and especially hiking. The diverse terrain is the perfect protagonist for either a long day hiking in Monte Giovi or delving into the paths at the mysterious Elba Island, an incredible island that is part of the Tuscan Archipelago. Plus it’s a great way to earn a beautiful pasta dinner at an acclaimed local restaurant which if you are anything like us, is pretty important. Tucking into a dish of freshly-made pici and wild boar ragu with a nice glass of red is our idea of the perfect ending to an active day in the most beautiful region in Italy. Also if being immersed in nature isn’t your cup of tea, urban hiking has been a popular option for city dwellers the world over. Here are a few of our suggestions on where and when to hike in Tuscany.
A Mountain Paradise with a Memorable Past
Monte Giovi is a beautiful place located not far from Rufina and Pontessieve, half an hour from Florence. It was an important point of reference for the Italian partisan movement during World War II. Personally I like to start and end from the town of Acone perched on Monte Giovi in a beautiful panoramic spot. If you continue driving up towards the peak (which at its highest point is around 990 meters above sea level) the paths for trekking are clearly marked and from here you can find a shorter hike. Don’t pack a lunch; instead make a reservation at the local restaurant in town which is famous for their delicious penne all’aconese (a secret recipe that they refuse to share).
Fast Facts: Trail : Acone (Pontassieve) – Galiga – Passo Aceraia – Prati Nuovi – Acone. Round trip: 16,5 km, Hiking Time: 5 ½ hours for the entire route, Difficulty: average. You can visit all year around.
Ristorante Pizzeria Acone, Via della Vittoria, 65, Acone Firenze. Tel: 055 836 1719
Elba, Island full of great hiking trails
While many consider Elba Island to be a place for soaking up the sun, it also happens to have some pretty impressive hiking trails for any enthusiast. One of which we adore explores the Ruins of Volterraio which happens to be the most ancient fortification on the island. It has been that there are doubts as to the origins of its name: some say it comes from the Etruscan word Vultur (vulture), others say it comes from the Volterra area, place of origin of the architect Vanni di Gherardo Rau who was in charge of the reconstruction work in the Xlll century. From this vantage point you can see some incredible views of the harbor and island.
Fast Facts: Round Trip: 2.5 km (1.6 miles), Hiking Time: around 1 hour, Difficulty: Moderately Easy, Eat to visit year around.
Urban Hiking in Siena
While hiking often conjures up images of green mountains and rocky cliffs, we think another very interesting way to discover a city is via an urban hiking. Specific trails in the middle of a city to see a place like you never have before. They occasionally have festivals celebrating these sorts of trails throughout the year in Tuscany (which you can find here, including special tours) but with a little planning, anyone can embark on their very own urban adventure. Grab a map, a history book about the city you are visiting (Siena is a great option) and visit everything by foot, taking time to really get to know a specific area. Head to the tourist information office in town and ask them for a few maps that you can follow.
Tourist information office: Siena, Italy: piazza Campo, 56
The via Francigena
An additional route that is well-worth exploring is traveling along the via Francigena, an ancient road that pilgrims walked from Nothern Europe to Rome. Every Sunday from June until November, you can participate in a three hour urban hike #sienafrancigena based from the city of Siena and stopping at the oldest hospital in Europe, Santa Maria della Scala for only 20 euros a person (less for kids).
More details and booking information: Tel. 0577 280551 – [email protected] www.terresiena.it