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Garfagnana Trekking

Garfagnana Trekking tour, created and promoted by Unione Comuni Garfagnana in 1983, is a nine-day loop starting from Castelnuovo di Garfagnana and reaching the most important summits of the two mountain ranges. This path allows one to follow the whole valley tour, and encounter the two important protected areas: The Regional Park of Apuan Alps and The National Park of Apennine Tosco-Emiliano. Along the path, it’s possible to find different kinds of accommodations and a series of “ways out” towards the valley that allow hikers to shorten and fit their itinerary according their need.

 

1° STAGE Castelnuovo di Garfagnana - Rif. Rossi (elevation gain 1500 m. – Average walking time 7.30 hours)

 

The route begins in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, 270 m. a.s.l., the main centre of the valley, easily reachable by public transportation. From Mulino della Grignetola, on Provincial road of Arni, the old mule track climbs into the woods meeting Grancia and the small characteristic church of La Madonna della Neve, and further on the small village of Sassi. Its strategic  position is seen by the tall bell tower built over the valley of Arni. From Sassi we reach Eglio and from here we follow the footpath that takes us to Foce di Eglio and to Alpe di S. Antonio (896 m. a.s.l.) last habitat before the summits. A few families still live in this old Shepard nucleus and it‚s for farming, breeding and tourist accommodation that they benefit their income. For anyone who wishes to break the first tiring stage into two days, the farm house “La Betulla” or the mountain hut “Alpe di S. Antonio” may be a good overnight stay (tel. 0583/760052-760380 email agribetulla@gmail.com).
Our route continues upwards through Colle Panestra (CAI n. 133) reaching the locality Piglionico where the road that rises from Molazzana ends, and the true footpath (CAI n. 7) breaks off reaching the mountain hut CAI “E. Rossi” (1609 m. a.s.l.), surrounded by well-known mountains: Pania Secca, Pania della Croce, Pizzo delle Saette and Puntone di Mezzo al Prato best known as “the nose”.(Tel. 0583-710386 email rifugio.rossi@gmail.com open from June 15 to September 15, during the remaining period open just on weekends, it provides a winter lodge).

 

2° STAGE Rif. Rossi – Isola Santa (elevation gain 250 uphill 1290 downhill - Average walking time 5.00 hours)

The route flows through sceneries of unforgettable beauty, right from the moment we leave the mountain hut Rossi, with the sun rays shining on the Appennines, illuminating the coast of Versilia and the Lake of Massaciuccoli. From the mountain hut follow the CAI footpath n. 7 to reach the Focetta del Puntone and from here (CAI n. 126)  climb the Vallone dell’Inferno up to the summit. A deviation along the peak is a must to reach the summit of Pania della Croce. (1859 m. a.s.l.). Returning to the footpath we follow it through in a zigzag fashion on steep slopes towards Foce di Mosceta, where we will find the mountain hut CAI “Del Freo” (1180 m. a.s.l.). From meadows of Foce the mule track leads us to Col di Favilla, an inhabited village (CAI n. 9). Shortly after, we reach Isola Santa and meet with the Provincial road of Arni.
Overnight stay: La Casa del Pescatore, in the ancient village on the lake (tel. 0583-639408 email info@isolasanta.it) or Borgo delle Panie in Salceta (tel 0583 667004 email info@laceragetta.it). The hotel La Genzianella in Vianova (tel. 0583 661275 email direzione@genzianella.net ) provides also a bus service for provides a shuttle service for those wishing to avoid the stretch of asphalt for the next stage (advance booking is required).

3°STAGE Isola Santa  – Vagli Sotto  (elevation gain 590 m. uphill 590 m. downhill. Average walking time 5.00 hours – Sumbra footpath 1200 m. uphill 1200 m. downhill -  Average walking time 7.30 hours)

From Isola Santa the route follows the road to Passo di Scala up to Porreta, where you find out the path to Maestà del Tribbio and Vagli Sotto. Anyone wishing to reach  the summit of M. Sumbra, with part of a route with facilities, can follow the CAI n. 145 directly from Capanne di Careggine. From the top of Monte Sumbra, the trail descends to Passo Fiocca and,following CAI n. 144 reaches Passo Sella. From there, an old pavement drops quickly in Valle d'Arnetola and Vagli Sotto where is the stopping point at hotel Le Alpi (0583 664057 email hotellealpi@virgilio.itopen from April to October), which reserves some rooms for walkers.

4° STAGE Vagli di Sotto – Val Serenaia (elevation gain 950 m. uphill 450 m. downhill - Average walking time 6.00 hours)

 

From Vagli Sotto (600 m. a.s.l) the route goes up to the town of Vagli Sopra, from here it swiftly climbs to reach Campocatino (1000 m. a.s.l.). The footpath CAI n. 177 climbs upwards keeping right of the meadows towards Passo della Tombaccia. The scenery changes rapidly; dry and lunar, it points out one of the aspects of the karst marvel of Apuan chain. Sinkholes of Carcaraia are natural wavy depressions where it is necessary to pay close attention. Arriving at Passo della Focolaccia impact with the most important economical activity maybe annoying. The marble quarries have cut through the peaks leaving white scars on the mountain. Pay close attention to landmarks which often are removed due to mining activity. Crossing the quarry and the CAI footpath n. 179 leads to Foce di Cardeto then opens in the valley of Orto di Donna, from here by taking the footpath CAI n. 178, downhill, we reach Val Serenaia. Accommodation is possible in Rifugio Donegani (tel 340 1509327 - 348 6520820 email info@rifugiodonegani.itadvance booking is required, open all year-round) or in Rifugio Val Serenaia (tel 349 1424641 email info@rifugialpiapuane.it opening period June 15 September 15, during the remaining period open just on weekends). 

5° STAGE Val Serenaia – Altopiano dell’Argegna (elevation gain 300 m. uphill 350 m. downhill - Average walking time 5.30 hours - shortest footpath 3.30 hours)

 

With this day our adventure in the Apuan Alps is brought to an end; other peaks await us, close but diverse in their conformation. In the upland plateau of Argegna, with wide meadows that surround the white shrine of Madonna della Guardia, we can reach our target by two different routes.
The first one (5b), the quickest, almost on paved road from Foce della Rifogliola through wide chestnuts leads us first into Perdetola (farm holiday “Da Pasquino” tel. 0583 610295) then Albiano and Foce dei Carpinelli and finally Argegna.
The second one, from Foce della Rifogliola, descends to the village Gramolazzo (anyone who wishes to spend one more night on the Apuan side, has the possibility to stay, nearby the lake, in hotels or in the campsite Lago Apuane, tel. 0583 1807364 - 340 9044988 email camping_lagoapuane@virgilio.it).
The route goes on towards Agliano, Castagnola, Prati di Debbia where the footpath is brought together to meet the trail that descends from Piazza al Serchio, reaching Capoli and Giuncugnano. One last upwards slope before we reach the upland plateau of Argegna from which we admire the best scenery of all route. Accommodation is offered at the shrine Madonna della Guardia (tel. 0583 611097 open from April to October); in summertime possible overnight stay at Campsite Argegna (tel. 0583 611182 email info@campingargegna.it) which has bungalows; or in hotels at Passo dei Carpinelli.

6° STAGE Altopiano dell’Argegna – Passo di Pradarena (elevation gain 825 m. uphill 276 m. downhill - Average walking time 5.30 hours)

 

Having finally left the Apuan spurs, the route leads to Monte Tondo (1782 m. a.s.l.). The view ranges from the Gulf of La Spezia to the mountains of Pisa and on clear days it is possbile see the highest peaks of Maritime Alps. Keep on walking along the peak northwards we reach the Tosco-Emiliano watershed at the orographic knot of Torre Tre Potenze (1771m. a.s.l.). Attention must be paid to landmarks, especially in case of fog. It is quite easy to take the wrong footpath at this stage and end up to Passo del Cerreto, whereas the proper direction keeps to the right and takes us to the following places: Scalocchi, Monte Ischia, Passo di Cavorsella and finally Passo di Pradarena, where the Provincial road that connects Garfagnana with Reggio Emilia transits. The hotel and mountain hut “Carpediem” (tel. 0522 899113 email info@albergocarpediem.com ) will greet us for the night. From daily stage Garfagnana Trekking meets up with GEA (Grande Escursione Appenninica) and with CAI route n. 00. So notice must be taken to signposts.

7° STAGE Passo di Pradarena – Rif. Battisti oR Rif. La Foce (elevation gain 350m uphill 322 m. downhill - Average walking time 4.30 hours)

 

This stage is rather short and flows along the Appennines and is constantly over 1600 m. reaching Monte Soraggio, Le Porraie and Monte Romecchio. At Passo di Romecchio the GEA footpath embraces the CAI trail n. 633 reaching shortly after, Lago Bargetana and finally the CAI mountain hut “C. Battisti” in Tosco-Emiliano Appennine Regional Park (tel. 0522 897497 email info@rifugio-battisti.it open from June 15 to September 15, it provides a always open winter lodge). Otherwise we may continue reaching the top of Ravaianda and, from here having reached the Focerella, descend into Tuscan area, where we will find the mountain hut “La Foce” (tel. 340 2333806, email digrazia2008@libero.it open in July and August). From La Foce following the sign Airone 3 (yellow and blue), we reach the Natural Park of Orecchiella and the Visitor Centre; it is possible to sleep in Baite Forestale (tel 0583 955525 email orecchiella@libero.it)  open from April to October

8° STAGE Rif. Battisti or Rif. La Foce – San Pellegrino in Alpe (elevation gain 500 m. uphill 500 m. dowhill - Average walking time 7.30 hours)

 

From the CAI mountain hut “C. Battisti” (or from La Foce) we climb to the summit of Monte Prado (2054 m. a.s.l.), the highest peak of Tuscany. Everything around this area is great: the wide valley of Abetina Reale, the thick beech tree forests of Orecchiella Natural Park, the extensive meadows full of bilberries; in an unreal silence broken only by the wind, it will not surprising to see a flock of grazing mouflon, flying a golden eagle or to hear an whistle of a marmot. The walk continues towards Monte Vecchio, Monte Cella, Passo del Giovarello, Alpicella delle Radici and finally Passo delle Radici after which we meet the State road which connects Garfagnana to Modena; crossing this road and follow the country road to reach San Pellegrino in Alpe (1525 m. a.s.l.) the highest village of the valley, situated along the old road that since the middle ages has linked Pianura Padana with Tuscany. The hostel dedicated to Saint Pellegrino, hermit of unknown origin, greeted travellers, pilgrims, merchants and soldiers of fortune who passed these impervious places. The tiny village offers accommodations to travellers and the Museum of agricultural and pature work brings to mind to life of mountain people. Overnight stay at  Hotel Lunardi at Passo delle Radici (tel. 0583 649071), Rifugio Pradaccio (tel. 339 8719534 email pradaccio@gmail.com ) or in San Pellegrino in Alpe at Hotels L’Appennino (tel. 0583 649069 email  appennino@virgilio.it) or L’Alpino (tel 0583 649068 email  lunardi@msw.it). La Taverna del Pellegrino (tel. 0583 649074 email  info@tavernadelpellegrino.it) or Rifugio Burigone (tel 0583 1805849 email info@rifugioburigone.it

 

9° STAGE San Pellegrino in Alpe – Castelnuovo di Garfagnana (elevation gain 1200 m. uphill - Average walking time 6.00 hours)

 

The route flows downhill through meadows, right below the shrine, then it develops into a road, that reaches the little town of Valbona, after meeting a few isolated houses, from here following a mule track we reach Castiglione di Garfagnana, a wonderful example of medieval town still wrapped within its original walls; one must simply see the inside of the fortitude and the narrow paths of the historic area. Then again through meadows until Marcione, then after crossing a little stream we climb up towards Mulini di Pieve Fosciana, cross the village and reach the little thermal lake Prà di Lama, then Le Lame and finally the Cappuccini’s Church arriving in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana nearby the Teatro Alfieri.

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