Lunigiana: terra antica – between Liguria and Tuscany
Hiking program with guide – 5 days, 6 nights
The Lunigiana is an ancient settlement area between Liguria and Tuscany, named after the Roman port of Luni, about which even Dante wrote. A varied journey takes you to the marble mountains of Carrara, to the Gulf of Poets with picturesque colorful harbor towns, to the valley of the Magra river with its mighty fortresses, historical hamlets and the ancient pilgrimage route of the Via Francigena. There is also a trip to the hills above Lucca in the program. A still undiscovered area of scenic beauty awaits you where interesting wines are produced (Vermentino, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese), most of them in small, organic wine cellars. The Lunigiana will surprise you even in culinary terms: the Lardo di Colonnata (delicate lard of the marble mountains), the fine vegetable cuisine, chestnuts in various preparations, ham, the good olive oil and of course fresh pasta in different forms and tastes…
Benvenuti in Lunigiana!
1st day: Independent arrival of the tour members to the Hotel in Sarzana. In the evening meeting with your hiking guide, who, in a competent and sympathetic way, will introduce you to the culture and nature of this territory. Dinner with local specialties in the hotel restaurant.
The Lunigiana of castles and fortresses
2nd day: Today’s hike takes you to the historic core of the Lunigiana, the hills alongside the Magra River. You will be impressed by the sheer number of mighty castles and fortresses that rise on the hilltops, witnesses of the eventful history of the territory, which has for a long time been in the focus of territorial rivalry between the maritime republics of Pisa and Genoa. You first reach Gragnola and start from there on foot in the direction of Fazzano. Just after a few minutes’ walk you reach the Aquila (Eagle) Castle that dominates the area, a medieval building that stands magnificently against the mountainous background. The walk continuous through chestnut forests, olive groves and small villages and here and there it offers scenic views towards the impressive mountain peaks of the Apuan Alps. Before you reach the end of the hike in Equi Terme, you’ll be invited to a wine tasting in a small hamlet. The ancient vineyards are cultivated and maintained following the tradition of natural cultivation and winemaking.
Total walking time on this day is approx. 4 hours, 15 km +/- 300 m
I Colli di Luni – the hilly landscape
3rd day: On this day your hike starts directly at the hotel. After a few minutes’ walk you reach the famous via Francigena, an ancient pilgrimage route that has led pilgrims to Rome for centuries. Soon, after passing an impressive villa, the path takes you into the forest. On the way you cross small streams and have views towards the hinterland, where small hamlets crouch on the ridges. Around noon you reach Castelnuovo, dominated by an impressive tower, part of the old fortress, that overlooks the plain landscape towards the sea. Enjoy your free lunch break in this picturesque town before you descend towards the sea and reach the wine cellar of the day. Here you will try one of the best Vermentino wines of the area and other fine award-winning wines. Total walking time on this day approx. 3.5 hours. Approx. 12 km, +/- 300 m
Around Camaiore: fresh pasta & fine wine
4th day: Bus drive to Pieve di Camaiore, named after the ancient church, that has been here since the Middle Ages. From here, our hike leads through olive groves and exciting geological formations to the town of Torcigliano, where you will have lunch: in this small family business in a beautiful location with its own garden, fresh pasta is still made every day; mouthwatering stuffed ravioli or delicious maccheroni with homemade sauce will be on the menu. In the afternoon bus drive to the hills above Lucca with beautiful villas surrounded by picturesque gardens. In one of them, perfectly preserved with elegant drawing rooms and a wonderful Italian garden, a wine cellar has been established. The owner will introduce you into the interesting biodynamic cultivation philosophy, before you taste the wines in the cozy ambience of the historic kitchen. Total walking time on this day is approx. 4 hours, approx. 12 km. +/- 250 m
Gulf of Poets
5th day: About Lord Byron it is said to have swum through this Gulf and Percy Shelley was enchanted by it – the wide Gulf of La Spezia with its picturesque little towns along the coast. Today you will see some of them on our scenic hike, that takes you to the area of the Montemarcello Natural Park above Lerici and Tellaro. The hike begins in Ameglia, a small historic hamlet towering above the Magra river, and leads through vineyards, forests and olive groves before you eventually can see the huge gulf. At lunchtime, take a short break in one of the most beautiful villages in the Gulf, Tellaro, directly by the sea. After lunch the paths proceeds through fragrant Mediterranean macchia, gorse and strawberry trees, and offers views of the sea again and again before you reach the ancient fortress of Lerici. In the afternoon we visit a small historical oil mill near Sarzana, not far from our hotel. Here you will learn a lot about the production process of olive oil and local flours and legumes and, of course, you will taste some of the products. Total walking time on this day is about 3 hours.
Marble mountains & lard
6th day: Today’s hike leads into the impressive marble mountains that you will have seen from afar all week long. The path begins in Colonnata, a tiny stone breaker’ village, where you stock up on typical delicious cold cuts before starting to walk (especially the lard, a delicate white bacon that melts on the tongue). After about 1.5 hours you will reach an abandoned village with stone houses in a scenic position – the perfect place for a picnic! On the way back you can have a look into the marble quarries from the outside. On the end of the day visit in a small, women-run winery near Ortonovo, where a small production of very fine wines is made, including, of course, various Vermentinos and a good red wine. Walking time about 2.5 hours on this day.
Arrivederci e alla prossima!
7th day: departure or extend your stay.