Best Day Hikes and Scenic Walks in Tuscany
Tuscany is one-of-a-kind region. Indeed, our region has a lot to offer not only from an artistic and historical point of view. Another distinguishing feature of our Region is the inspirational landscape, what makes Tuscany a perfect place for outdoor activities. If you wish to discover the Tuscan treasures from a different point of view, here you find the Best Day Hikes and Scenic Walks in Tuscany.
Some features about Tuscany
What makes Tuscany unique is the great variety of environments all concentrated in one region. In fact, the region boasts an almost 400 km long coastline and a wonderful archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west. There, you find the seven islands of Elba, Giglio, Montecristo, Capraia, Pianosa, Giannutri and Gorgona.
Tuscany is located in central Italy and borders the regions of Emilia Romagna and Liguria to the north, Le Marche region to the east, Umbria and Lazio to the south. 66% of the Tuscan territory is made of hills, whilst the Apennines cover the 25% of it, specifically to the north and to the east of Tuscany. If you wish to explore the region on foot, you will continuously discover different views and secret corners. Do not miss the many national, regional and local parks, the beautiful nature reserves and the protected areas in our region.
Parks and nature reserves in Tuscany for Day Hikes and Scenic Walks
If you like hiking or simply walking while admiring a suggestive landscape, Tuscany is the perfect place to be. The Region features many parks and nature reserves, where to experience the Best Day Hikes and Scenic Walks. Many of the paths are set up by the Italian Alpin Club (CAI, Club Alpino Italiano), that identifies them with red and white striped signals. There are itineraries for all levels of fitness. In general, we can say that the most appreciated trekking areas are located in the areas of Tuscany called Garfagnana, Casentino and Lunigiana. The Florentine Hills also offer the chance to have some really satisfying hikes. Below, we make a summary of the best places where to hike or enjoy a nice walk in the Tuscan nature.
Via Francigena, the walk path par exellence in Tuscany
The old medieval pilgrimage route is surely one of the best ways to discover not only the Tuscan landscape, but also the architectural and historical treasures hidden in the Region. There was actually no official route of the Via Francigena in the Middle Ages, but many possible roads from Canterbury in England to the tombs of St. Peter and Paul in Rome and later the Holy Land (Jerusalem). The paths went through France and Switzerland and pilgrims used to cover such a long distance mainly for spiritual reasons, to reunite with God and to obtain indulgence from the Pope.
The Via Francigena as a route was officially codified only in the 80’s, when some academics found the travel journey of Sigeric the Serious. He was an archbishop in Canterbury, who walked from England to Rome in 990. In his diary he noted around 80 different stops, recognized in 1994 as a European Itinerary and in 2004 as a Major Cultural Itinerary.
In Italy the path covers around 18.800 kilometers and 15 of the stops are located in Tuscany. Here, the visitors can walks for about 380 km from the north pass at Pontremoli down to the Rocca di Radicofani. To be more precise, the itinerary goes from the Cisa Pass (in the area called Lunigiana, in the northwest tip of Tuscany) and makes its way down to Lucca, then accross Siena. It then heads south towards Rome. Walking this path offers spectacular views and a peaceful experience through the always changing Tuscan landscape. If you wish, you can even get a kind of Pilgrim Passport or Record, certifying the pilgrim status.
15 legs of the via Francigena in Tuscany
Enjoy marvellous Hikes and Scenic Walks in the Apuan Alps Regional Park
Among the mountain territories in the region, the Alpi Apuane (Apuane Alps) is the only mountain range completelly located in Tuscany. The Regional Park ranges from the north of Tuscany, between Garfagnana and Lunigiana, and the Versilian coast. The marvellous orographic complex belongs to the UNESCO’s World Heritage since 2011. Moreover, it is well-known for the famous Carrara marble excavation. This is why the Tuscans refer to them as the marble mountains. There, you can notice a harsh morphology, deep valleys and steep slopes. This wild untouched environment makes it a popular place for walking and hiking activities. One of the Best Day Hikes and Scenic Walks we would like to recommend you in this area of Tuscany is the Ring Itinerary of Monteforato.
Discover Monteforato in the Apuan Alps of Tuscany
Many consider Monteforato one of the natural rarities in Tuscany. The reason is in the hole created by the natural arch joining the peaks of the two twin mountains. On the Southern edge of the Apuan Alps, the hole is even visible from Garfagnana and Versilia.
According to the legend, a clash between St. Pellegrino and the devil himself caused this characteristic formation. The devil was slapped and hit the crest of the mountain, creating the hole. Actually, it was the water together with the wind that eroded the rock and gave it its peculiar shape. The arch is located at 1160 meters and spans 32 meters. You can reach it through a ring path from the village of Fornovolasco up the torrent to Foce di Petrociana. In spite of the 800-meter-dislevel, this medium-hard difficult path allows you to enjoy a wonderful view through the arch. Indeed, your sight can reach the Tuscan coast of Versilia to the west.
Nice hikes and walks to the coastal area of Tuscany
The coastline and the islands belonging to the Parco Nazionale dell’ Arcipelago Toscano are also a nice place for hikes. Indeed, it extends across the provinces of Livorno and Grosseto and hides many trails for outdoors activities like hiking. This is the largest Italian marine park. In fact, it covers almost 57.000 hectares of sea and about 17.900 hectars of land. Among the islands of the Park, the Elba island offers wonderful views over the Tuscan Archipelago. You can reach the island taking a ferry boat from the port of Piombino. The trip takes 1 hour. You can hike to Monte Capanne, the highest point of the island. Or you can chose one of the several hiking trails to Napoleon’s house, where he lived in exile. If you feel fit enough, choose the Great Elban Crossing.
The mainland between Livorno and Piombino is known as Costa degli Etruschi. It offers incredible panoramas over the small bays in front of the Archipelago. It is possible to reach the Gulf of Baratti from Piombino through a lovely pathway along the coast. Close to Baratti is also the Archeological Park of Baratti-Populonia. The area includes a series of walking paths to discover the Etruscan tombs.
Further North, you find the Parco di Migliarino, San Rossore, Massaciuccoli, covering the coastal strip between Pisa and Lucca. In this regional park, you can benefit from many facilities for hiking and nature walks. The place is perfect for birdwatching as well.
Hikes and Scenic Walks from the Coast to the Inland within the Maremma
Travelling south instead, worth a mention is the Park of Maremma, that includes miles of coastline in southwestern Tuscany. This area extends to the inland till Siena and Monte Amiata and offers many types of landscape. It is also known as the Regional Park of the Uccellina from the name of the hill chain parallel to the coast. It includes about 25 km of coastline from Principina a Mare to Talamone. Here, you can discover an interesting flora and fauna, several farmhouses, free beaches and nature reserves.
In the very heart of the southern Maremma, you find mysterious walking paths excavated in the tufa rock. Close to the village of Pitigliano, in the province of Grosseto, is the Archeological Park Città del Tufo. The walking trails are very fascinating and go through 20-meter-high tufa walls immersed in the incontaminated nature. They are called Via Cave and though them you can discover more about the Etruscan civilization and visit historical villages rich in art and history like Pitigliano, Sovana and Sorano.
More recommended places for hikes and walks in the heart of Tuscany
In the very heart of Tuscany across the Provinces of Florence and Arezzo is the largest national forest of Italy. In fact, the Parco Nazionale delle Foreste Casentinesi extends for about 36,400 hectares. It covers valleys and ancient forests between Tucany and Emilia Romagna. You can visit the area on foot. Like the via Fracigena there is a strong connection to spiritual themes. Indeed, the National Park of Casentinesi Forests hides ideal stops for meditating like the Sanctuary of La Verna and the Hermitage of Camaldoli. This hiking intinerary is ideal if you wish to combine your love for nature to the visit of mystic monasteries. The landscape here is so enchanting to become a source of ispiration for many artists like Michelangelo.
Hiking tours in the Casentino forest.
Lunigiana, another ideal destination for cenic Hikes and Walks
Also located close Emilia Romagna but in the far north of Tuscany close to the border with Liguria is another ideal destination for hikin and walking lovers called Lunigiana. Here you find about 250 km of paths and small towns to discover on foot. Land of castles and fortresses, this area covers part of the Tuscan legs of the Via Francigena in the northernmost Tuscany. The beautiful valley along the river Magra is the perfect background for your Hikes and Scenic Walks.
Hike in the Chianti Wine Ditrict in Tuscany
Aside from being one of the most famous wine district in the world, Chianti is the perfect location for hikes and walks in Tuscany. Here, you can combine the view over a bucolic landscape made of vineyards and rolling hills to excellent wine. A good idea if you are spending your holidays in Florence is go for a nice walk in the Mugello area, just ouside of the city. Here you can admire the suggestive landscape and learn more about winemaking through the many farms and traditional cellars. Another nice hiking path from Florence is the one known as La via degli Dei (The Gods’ path), the old Roman path connecting the city to Felsina (Bologna). This trail offers historical, natural and cultural treasures through the Tucan-Emilian Apennines covering part of the old Flaminia military road.