Meet in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana at 6pm (please refer to the joining instructions for more information on where to meet), make your way to Castelnuovo di Garfagnana train station (train line Pisa-Piazza di Serchio-Aulla, some trains arrive directly from Pisa Aeroporto, but most change at Pisa Centrale or Lucca). Please plan your journey to arrive at Castelnuovo di Garfagnana any time before 6pm on Day One. Please see the arrival instructions for more information on how to get there. This evening at around 6pm, there will be a welcome meeting. This will be followed by the first of your wonderful, local dinners, cooked by your hosts.
Wake up from a wonderful nights sleep to a local Italian breakfast with freshly made coffee before heading out for today's introductory hike. After a spectacular country drive, high into the mountains, we reach the tiny village which is our starting point for today's walk. Our first hike takes us gently uphill, to a superb vantage point with views past towering cliffs and verdant forests reaching all the way down to the sea. Walking becomes a little steeper as we make for the summit of Monte Croce. Heading downhill we make our way back to the starting point village where we opt to partake in an excellent, locally-prepared lunch. We return home in the late afternoon for a couple of hours relaxing by the pool or to take short walks to explore the local area. This evening, your local host will cook you a delicious dinner of local country fare devised from traditional regional recipes.
Today it is time to get local! Your hosts will take you out into the surrounding region to enable you to understand where this local delicious local food comes from. Depending upon the season you may be able to see, and in many cases participate in, the collecting of porcini mushrooms or blackcurrants, the harvesting of the grapes, making of local pecorino cheese and wild boar sausage or harvesting farro, the local grain. Now it is time to put all your new food knowledge to the test. This evening, you will enjoy a cooking demonstration from your hosts, outlining some of the traditional recipes and you will even have a chance to help in the preparation of tonight's dinner.
After another wonderful breakfast it is time to once again take to the trails. Our second day of hiking takes us on a slightly longer walk highlighting more magnificent views of the Apennine Mountains and the Alpi Apuane. Today, weather permitting, we could opt to bring along a picnic lunch of local produce to feast our stomachs as well as our eyes. We return in the late afternoon to some time to enjoy our surroundings and facilities before another wonderful evening of local fare and wine. Tonight your evening is free to explore the charming local town of Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. Why not stop for a traditional wood fire pizza - a great dinner after a day of hiking. It takes just 30 minutes to walk down hill into the town, and your hosts will be happy to collect you on your return should you require it.
Today is free for you to enjoy. Options include a visit to the thermal bath and spa town of Bagni di Lucca, a visit to the delightful medieval walled town of Lucca, or closer to home, a short bus ride takes you to Barga, a beautifully situated small town overlooking the Garfagnana valley which is renowned for its gelato. For those who would really like to treat themselves, helicopter rides over the local area can be arranged, or you may simply like to stay at home and relax by the pool with a book and a cool drink. There are also pleasant country walks in the in the immediate vicinity. In the evening, we gather together to have an evening briefing regarding tomorrow's hike over another excellent home-cooked dinner.
Time to walk off all those delicious meals as we head to the hills for some more beautiful day hikes. We begin our day stocking up for picnic supplies in the local delicatessen, ready to be enjoyed as a picnic lunch en route. Enjoy exploring the Apennine Mountains with their ash and chestnut forests, impressive peaks and far reaching views. The walking today depends on the abilities of the group - actual distance and hours walked will depend on group wishes, weather conditions and general fitness levels. We can expect to walk approximately 6-7 hours, with a height gain of between 500 and 800 metres. The most challenging hike in the area is the Pania della Croce (1,858m), which we can attempt if the conditions are right.
Continue hiking in the beautiful Orecchiella nature reserve in the Apennine Mountains.
Depart at any time.