Walking in Tuscany

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Trip code: 
TDT
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Walking & Trekking
Group size:
4–14
Min age:
16

Walks in Tuscany's mountainous Garfagnana region

The Garfagnana region, close to the gems of Lucca, Pisa and Florence, is one of Italy's best-kept secrets and the perfect base for guided walking holidays in Tuscany. The area’s astonishing landscape is a far cry from the rolling hills of southern Tuscany as it lies between the striking peaks of the Alpi Apuane and Apennine mountain ranges, providing us with ample hiking opportunities which, along with picturesque mountaintop and lakeside villages and the warm local hospitality, make for a wonderful trip. Certain dates include more challenging trekking and incorporate one night in a mountain refuge.

Highlights

  • Five wonderful daywalks through Tuscany's idyllic mountains
  • Challenging walks on certain weeks
  • Stay in a beautifully situated Tuscan farmhouse with swimming pool 
  • Opportunity to visit Lucca on the free day

Key information

  • 7 nights farmhouse with swimming pool
  • 8 days land only/ flight inclusive
  • 5 days centre-based walking; 1 free day
  • Altitude maximum 2054m, average 1000m
  • Challenging departures on selected weeks

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 5 picnic lunches, 5 dinners
  • All accommodation (see accommodation section)
  • All transport and activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request - limited availability)
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • Local taxes (approx. EUR 10 per person, see Trip Notes)
Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for tailormade trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

Tourism can be a real help to local communities, providing income, positive cultural exchanges and a financial incentive to protect their natural environment. Ours is a 'total approach' to responsible tourism, covering everything from the way we plan and operate our trips to the practices of Exodus as a company. 

On this trip, we spend the nights in Bracciorti, a lodge-style farmhouse or also known as ‘Agriturismo’ in Italy, which is to support the agricultural community by giving farmers an alternative source of income. To be part of the Agriturismo Association, it is a requirement to hire local staff and use local produce to ensure that the local community directly benefits from the visits. As a walking holiday, we actively encourage clients to interact with the locals, visit local cafes and bars, support local produce and craft and to experience what life is really like in Tuscany. Additionally, walking trips like this have very little detrimental impact on the environment and the locals as it is a quiet, low impact activity requiring comparatively little resources to support.

In March 2019, Exodus Travels launched the Exodus Travels Foundation where we support initiatives all around the world. But it cannot exist without travellers who care. Get involved or learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus here

Itinerary

Braccicorti
to
Braccicorti
  • Day 1

    Start Braccicorti

    Start at Braccicorti lodge, approximately 6kms from Castelnuovo di Garfagnana and 2 hours from Pisa airport.

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Day 2

    Walk through the Orecchiella N.P. to Pania di Corfino (Activity Level 3)

    After breakfast at Braccicorti we drive to the small village of Pruno where we begin our walk into the Orecchiella National Park, home to a variety of flora and fauna changing throughout the year. In spring it can be covered in snow when wolf, deer and mountain hare tracks are easily identifiable. Late spring and summer, the land is carpeted with an array of beautiful flowers and the beech trees begin to grow their iridescent lime green leaves which then change to deep oranges, browns and reds in the Autumn. If we are lucky we might spot a number of birds of prey; the common buzzard, the honey buzzard or one of the resident golden eagles. Set amongst the beautiful beech wood our walk steadily ascends to the flat summit of Pania di Corfino with its stunning 360 degrees views. After a leisurely picnic lunch we head to the 16th century village of Campaiana before following an ancient mule track which descends to the town of Corfino.

    13km, total ascent: 603m, total descent: 603m, altitude maximum: 1603m.

    The beautiful rock arch of Monte Forato (Activity Level 5)

    Starting the day with a drive of approximately 40 minutes we arrive at the gorge of Fornovolasco in the Alpi Apuane NP. From here we follow the dry river bed through the woodland, before ascending more steeply to enjoy stunning views down to the Versilia coast and across to the famous marble quarries. We undertake a short scramble to meet the spine that leads up to the incredible rock arch of Monte Forato. The summit is only a stone's throw away and should be ascended to enjoy the majestic views of Pania della Croce. Continuing on the path we descend sharply through the trees and past old shepherds huts to reach our minibus. 

    15km, total ascent: 693m, total descent: 693m, altitude maximum: 1223m.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 3

    Apuane National Park to Monte Sumbra (Activity Level 3)

    Today we drive 40 minutes to the small village of Vianova and begin our walk into the Alpi Apuane NP. Much of our initial ascent is on a wide forest track that continues through the beech wood to our first view point across to the face of Pania della Croce and the Omo Morto range. From here we take a footpath ascending to a limestone plateau where there is an optional ascent to the summit of Monte Sumbra (1765m). Weather permitting, we will enjoy an uninterrupted view of the Alpi Apuane range, the Ligurian coast and the enormous spine of the Apennines. After lunch on the summit we retrace our steps back to the limestone plateau, before heading down through the trees following one of the old charcoal trails back to the minibus. On the way back to Braccicorti, time permitting, we may stop in the lovely town of Careggine.

    16km, total ascent: 672m, total descent: 672m, altitude maximum: 1765m.

    Apuane National Park to the summit of Pania della Croce (Activity Level 5)

    Today we drive for around 45 minutes to return to the Alpi Apuane NP, this time to arrive at the foot of Uomo Morto, the 'Dead Man'. We ascend steadily through beech wood to emerge at Rifugio Rossi, a small mountain hut at the foot of the 'Dead Man's' nose! There is a high chance of seeing mouflon (wild mountain sheep) as we make our way up a large boulder field to a ridge that takes us to the top of the 'Dead Man's' stomach and the summit of Pania della Croce at 1858m. Along with good views of the marble quarries and the local coastal town of Forte di Marmi below us, we can admire the coast to the Cinque Terre, the flat plains of Lucca and Pisa to the east and the long spine of the Apennine ridge on the opposite side of the valley. After a picnic lunch on the summit we retrace our steps back to the Rifugio, before heading back to the bus. 

    12km, total ascent: 758m, total descent: 758m, altitude maximum: 1858m.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 4

    Circular walk from Braccicorti to mediaeval market town Castiglione di Garfagnana (Activity Level 3)

    Having a change of guide for the day, you will walk directly from the farmhouse at 410m, firstly visiting the new town of Villa Collemandina before heading to the church and learning about the history of the area. After this the route will take you on tracks, quiet lanes and footpaths through the local farmland and houses giving you a chance to observe village life. Midway through the day you will arrive at Castiglione di Garfagnana at 545m, a small but beautiful mediaeval town, still inhabited and visited by tourists throughout the year. Castiglione is also the place where the region’s largest and most popular chestnut festival, celebrating the chestnut tree and the growth of truffles and mushrooms, is held in the autumn. After lunch we cross a 13th century bridge below the town leading into more farmland and back to Braccicorti on easy tracks. 

    19km, total ascent: 145m, total descent: 145m, altitude maximum: 545m.

    Apuane National Park to Monte Tambura (Activity Level 5)

    Changing guides for the day, today you transfer to 16th century shepherds village of Campocatino.  From here you begin the continuous ascent on a well marked path to reach the ridge line of Monte Tambura where you will start your way unto the summit. The path can be a little exposed and loose in places with stunning views of the craggy peaks all around. From the summit you continue on the ridge line descending to one of the many marble quarries in this mountain range before carefully making your way across several small rocky sections with a fixed security line to aid you on your way back at Campocatino. 

    16km, total ascent: 800m, total descent: 800m, altitude maximum: 1890m.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    Free day to visit Lucca, the Cinque Terre, Florence or Pisa

    Free day to enjoy any of the following: 1 hr train journey to visit the stunning fortified city of Lucca; 20 minute taxi and 1.5 hr train journey to the coastal UNESCO World Heritage site of the Cinque Terre; 2.5 hr train journey to visit the capital city of Florence, home of Michelangelo's David or the 1.5hr train journey to Pisa where you can ascend the leaning tower and walk along the beautiful river Arno. Other options would be to relax at the farmhouse and if warm enough make use of the sun loungers and outdoor pool or walk down to Lago di Pontecosi for lunch and a stroll through the local area or take 10 minutes train along to Castelnuovo di Garfagnana for lunch and a walk to the old castle.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Campocatino and San Viviano's Hermitage (Activity Level 3)

    A drive of 25 minutes to Lago di Vagli with its submerged village and impressive backdrop of Monte Sumbra will bring us to the start point for the day; Vagli Sotto. From here we walk on a small footpath to the town of Vagli Sopra where we continue to ascend on a section of the pilgrimage walk through the chestnut wood to arrive at the 16th century shepherds village of Campocatino. Wandering through the village and seeing the beautiful terraced meadows, protected by the impressive wall of Roccandagia, it is easy to understand why the shepherds chose this location. From here we continue to our highest point for the day at 1190m before descending through the trees to San Viviano's hermitage. Built into the rock face, the tiny hermitage is said to be where San Viviano lived before his bones were finally discovered in 1993. It is now used as a chapel and pilgrimage site. Our descent takes a rarely used mountain path with views across the valley before arriving back at the bus.

    12.5km, total ascent: 630m, total descent: 630m, altitude maximum: 1190m.

    Appennino Tosco‐Emiliano N.P. Monte Prado and Monte Cusna (Activity Level 5)

    After a 40 minute drive we begin our 2 day ridge walk with a steady ascent through the beech wood to meet the Crinali ridge in the Tosco-Emiliano Appennino NP. During the winter the ridge is covered in snow but spring brings the new growth of alpine flowers and autumn carpets the ground in purple hues from the myrtle berries mixed with the green juniper. Following the crest, this easy route takes us along the ridge up onto the summit of Monte Prado, the highest peak in Tuscany at 2054m. We then descend to the small tarn of Lago di Bargetana, before continuing into Emilia Romagna and up to Monte Cusna at 2121m. Marmots can be encountered on the way.  After our second summit we descend to our mountain hut Rifugio Bargetana where we enjoy an evening meal before a well deserved rest.  Nestled amongst the trees, the rifugio is known for its good food and wildlife spotting. 

    22.5km, total ascent: 807m, total descent: 807m, altitude maximum: 2121m.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    Appennino Tosco-Emiliano N.P. and the summit of Monte Prado (Activity Level 3)

    We start the day with a 40 minute drive to the small ski area of Casone. Walking through beech wood brings us to the beginning of the Crinali ridge, a section of the 1600km Apennine ridge in the Tosco/Emiliano/Apennino NP, offering some of the most impressive views of the week. Below is a basin of fiery colours from the forest between the ridge line of Tuscany and the opposite ridge of Emilia Romagna. Our route takes us along the undulating ridge on an easy path leading us up onto the peak of Monte Prado, the highest in Tuscany at 2054m. After lunch we retrace our steps along the ridge before descending on another route leading us through woodland back to Casone where there is a bar to enjoy a well earned drink.

    16km, total ascent: 740m, total descent: 740m, altitude maximum: 2054m.

    Apennino Tosco-Emiliano N.P. to Passo di Praderena (Activity Level 5)

    After our night in the mountain hut we retrace our steps to Lago di Bargetana, then head back into Tuscany and onto the Crinali ridge. We stay on this ridge line all day with fantastic views across the Alpi Apuane national park and the Serchio valley.  During the autumn the views can stretch as far as the Alps to the North and the islands of Corsica and Sardinia.  After completing 15km we arrive at Passo di Praderana where we will drive the 40 minutes to Braccicorti, with the option of stopping at the Osteria of Verrucole Fortress to enjoy a celebratory drink. 

    15km, total ascent: 209m, total descent: 209m, altitude maximum: 1949m.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    End Braccicorti.

    The trip ends at Braccicorti.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Vaccinations

Italy

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 5 lunches and 5 dinners are included.

Continental style breakfast with a choice of cereal, bread, yoghurt, eggs and fruit with milk, fruit juice and an array of teas/coffee.
Packed lunches are provided for the daywalks  with a buffet style selection of meat, cheese, fish, salad, bread and salad mix such as panzanella with a cake and fruit.

Starters include the Garfagnana soup, Pesto pasta, Bresaola or risotto with locally made bread, water and Braccicorti red wine. 

Main course can be stuffed peppers and courgettes with local cheese and pancetta, roasted meats, locally caught trout or a vegetarian dish such as aubergine and mozzarella bake with home grown vegetables and salad.

Each meal is finished with a small dessert of homemade tiramisu, panna cotta, gelato or fruit salad and on occasions followed with the offer of homemade grappa or amaretto.  

Vegetarians are usually well catered for in this area. For those who require gluten free diets, we recommend taking items with you, as it is not easy to purchase gluten free products locally.

Weather

May departures can expect warm days, although rain is always possible. Nights may be rather cool. Early June is similar, with the days becoming progressively hotter and the evenings much warmer. September and October are cooler and wetter, however visibility is better. We strongly recommend a fleece-lined jacket or warm sweater in May, September and October.

Is this trip for you?

The Garfagnana area provides enormous scope for some of the most spectacular and interesting trekking in Italy, with the added bonus of knowing we will rarely see other walkers. The majority of the paths are well-maintained, however a few sections are less frequently used and rough underfoot, with some steep ascents and descents, it will suit people who exercise regularly. Previous trekking experience is needed. Some trails can be overgrown and long trousers are recommended. Early in the season there may be patches of snow and snowshoes may have to be used. 

The area is mountainous and the majority of drives, although short, follow twisty mountain roads through wooded areas. Braccicorti lodge has been renovated keeping the character of the area in mind and should therefore not be considered a luxury villa. There are basic furnishings and rooms are not serviced as you would expect in a hotel. 

Activity level: grade 3 (Moderate) departures
Most departure dates are graded moderate and ascents and descents of 400 to 700 metres should be expected. We usually walk 4 to 6 hours each day and a good level of fitness is required.

For challenging grade weeks, we usually walk between 5 and 8 hours per day and a high level of fitness is required. We spend one night in a comfortable mountain refuge, so we will have to pack our belongings for our two-day ridge excursion into our daypacks (e.g. sleeping bag liner, wash kit, change of clothes). It should not be necessary to carry more than 6-8kg. Items not required on the walk can be left in your room at Braccicorti.

We use the same mountain ranges for both grades and vary the routes according to the weather conditions or other factors beyond our control. Whilst aiming to always follow the routes described in these trip notes, it will be the leader's decision to amend the itinerary if and when necessary.

You may find our Fitness Training Guide a useful reference:
http://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/pdf/Exodus_WT_Fitness_Training_Guide.pdf

Tuscany can be very hot during summer months, especially from June to August but heatwaves can happen also in April and May. During summer months temperatures can possibly reach high 30s (degC). We will try and start our walks earlier to avoid the hottest hours of the day but please be aware that temperatures and humidity will be high. You should feel comfortable and be used to walk in the heat. Agriturismo type of accommodations, as based in the countryside, are not normally equipped with air conditioning therefore rooms can be quite warm at times. Presence of mosquitos in summer may increase (significantly), we recommend to take mosquito repellent with you.

Summer months

Tuscany can be very hot during summer months, especially from June to August but heatwaves can happen also in April and May. During summer months temperatures can possibly reach high 30s (degC). We will try and start our walks earlier to avoid the hottest hours of the day but please be aware that temperatures and humidity will be high. You should feel comfortable and be used to walk in the heat. Agriturismo type of accommodations, as based in the countryside, are not normally equipped with air conditioning therefore rooms can be quite warm at times. Presence of mosquitos in summer may increase (significantly), we recommend taking mosquito repellent with you.

Please note that at times, especially during summer months, the inbound flight can be late in the evening. In this instance you will have additional time to spend in Pisa. Leader will take care of all arrangements in terms of transport from/to the airport and the city centre and luggage storage. It may also happen that, for logistical reasons, on return we will have to be at the airport earlier than normally scheduled. This will mean a longer waiting time before checking in. 

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for tailormade trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Braccicorti

Our lodge-style base is the welcoming Braccicorti, a traditional stone building tucked away on a hillside on the lower slopes of the Apennines. Situated on a typical Tuscan farm, it has been authentically renovated and is surrounded by meadows, orchards, woodland and vines.
The accommodation comprises 4 twin/double rooms (with en suite facilities) and 2 apartments, each with 1 twin/double and 1 single room sharing a bathroom. Double or twin should be stated upon booking and the en suite rooms are on a first come served basis if requested. There is also a dining room, comfortable living room, a quiet room, terrace, golf course with driving range, swimming pool (seasonal - mid May to end of September) and a garden with stunning views to the mountains.
This is not a hotel and the local family, who live next door, clean the rooms once during the week. Please note there are dogs and cats at the farmhouse.
CHALLENGING DEPARTURES: We spend one night in dormitory-style accommodation in a comfortable mountain hut.

There is no charge for the standard single rooms, as bathroom facilities are shared. These are provided on a first come first served basis and should be requested upon booking.
Further double rooms for sole use can be requested 2 weeks prior to departure; a supplement applies for these. We cannot guarantee these will be en suite.

Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for tailormade trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for tailormade trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed May 2019
    Judy ONeill

    Amazing adventure even though the weather was unusually cold with a mixture of rain, sleet, and snow

    Excellent trip with Exodus. This was my second adventure with Exodus and this one was all that the reviews say. Sara was excellent ! She was very patient, even taught some of us new hiking skills. She kept us all motivated throughout the days despite the weather. Sara was brilliant with her switching up the routes to accommodate the unusual weather keeping us all safe and comfortable as possible. It was fun , challenging, and I would like to do it again with sunny weather. The group was awesome and were fun as everyone kept each other motivated and laughing. The food was wonderful and plentiful. Sara does such a great job of handling all the details and making it a true holiday! I loved not having to plan "where and what to trek and what & where to eat"...a real treat not to be "in charge". My daughter a mother of two young children and I her mother really appreciated the true challenging "holiday" from our many responsibilities back at home.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Sara helped me as I was ready to give up the first day. But she dropped back with me and taught me how to go at my pace not the pace of the group. I was struggling with "breathing" when I was trying to rush to be with the pack when going straight up hill. We live on a flat island so not many opportunities to train for uphill climbs. I found the upward climbs a little tough but the downhill grades were a breeze. . With her patience and guidance I was able to do all the hikes and enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment. "Elvis" helped me not go down the wrong path so if in doubt follow the dog Elvis!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Has an amazing spirit and wonderful leadership skills. She is the best guide I've encountered to date. Hope to do more trips with Exodus in the future.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack the rain gear as you may need it! Also the gloves and hat were a blessing for this unexpected chilly and snowy weather.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Lesh Karan

    Exceptional tour leader/guide

    Despite the weather, which could have put a real damper on the trip (pun intended!), the trip was made exceptional by our guide, Sara Bull, and the fabulous people we had in our group. I would recommend (and do) any tour that Sara is leading. The farmhouse and surrounds are stunning, too - quintessential Tuscany. And the food cooked by Angela and Flora, delicious.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Sara Bull - how she understood everybody's needs and catered accordingly - from the gear to the trekking and even the food. Sara is encouraging and supportive. A wonder woman, really. She also made sure my dietary requirements were met - and that the food for me was just as delicious too.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    See above. :)

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Please read the trip notes and bring the trekking gear requested. It's not a walk - but a hike up mountainous terrain, so you need proper hiking boots with a good, non-slip tread and preferably waterproof. Waterproof pants and jacket also worthy to bring. And poles.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Elizabeth Plumb

    Walking in Tuscany.

    Great week despite the weather! Sarah was an excellent guide. She knew the area extremely well and was able to make adaptations to the walks depending on the weather and confidence of the group. The farmhouse was comfortable with great food. The make you own packed lunches also worked well. Would definitely recommend this trip, but if I was going again, I would probably go a bit later in the year when the weather is more likely to be settled. A trip to Lucca on the free day would be my suggestion. A lovely little town, compact with plenty to see.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I enjoyed being guided by Sarah, over the rocky scrambling part of the walk to the rock arch. I would have been nervous, but Sarah was great at confidence building and got us all through it.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sarah was the best group leader I have met. She was very quickly aware of everyone’s abilities and managed us very well. She was very knowledgeable about everything and I felt very safe with her. I would chose any trip I knew she was going to be leading in the future!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Some of the walking is quite steep, but manageable if you are reasonably fit. I would go in June or September rather than April when we had very mixed weather.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    All well organised, including the office staff. We changed our flights a couple of times which seemed to cause no problems. I wonder if some trips should have a Manchester group flight as out of 13 of us, only 2 people came on the group flight from London. 8, came from Manchester!
  • Reviewed May 2019

    What a wonderful introduction to Walking Holidays and this region of Tuscany!

    This was my first experience of an organised walking holiday and I can’t say I was disappointed. Stunning scenery, delicious food and marvelous company. The weather left a little to be desired but didn’t really spoil the week at all. When we weren’t walking we were looked after by Angela and her team at Braccicorti. Always a warm, welcoming smile and sometimes a chat over a cup of tea! The accommodation in the farmhouse is simple but comfortable and warm, with plenty of communal areas to discuss the day’s activities or find a quiet corner to just relax. I love my food and I loved the fare dished up during the week. Traditional, homely, delicious and plenty of it. I have got to give a special mention to our Tuesday guide, Pierluigi, whose enthusiasm, in the face of lashing rain, knew no bounds. And finally, our wonderful guide for the week, Sara, who had a wealth of knowledge about the area’s history and geography as well as its flora & fauna. Her leadership throughout the week made it for me.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Although the scenery was stunningly beautiful with so many Instagram worthy vistas, it was the people – group members, our hosts and Sara our guide.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    What can i say...Inspirational. A wealth of knowledge and experience.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the trip notes and make sure your fitness is up to muster. Although nothing extreme, there’s a fair amount of altitude to be ascended.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Enjoy…it’d be hard not to!
  • Reviewed April 2019
    Jan Grace

    Fabulous!

    I would recommend this trip to anyone. A level of fitness is a must - certainly more than a few brisk walks around the block - it's challenging but rewarding! Sara - our guide - was absolutely amazing - calm, knowledgeable, patient, kind, tough. She looked after us as a group and individually - nothing was too much trouble. The farmhouse is amazing and the family who prepared our meals were so welcoming, kind and fun! The meals by the way - beautiful simple, rustic, locally sourced food - every evening we ate at the farmhouse was a treat! The idea of being able to create your own lunch from the choices laid out was a brilliant idea and you were able to take as much or as little as you wanted. Breakfasts set you up for the day! The accommodation is lovely with real charm and plenty of warmth, heating, drying room, roasting fire in the lounge when cold and a swimming pool with amazing views.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many - the walks up the mountains, the valley walk, trip into Lucca - a beautiful roman town with so much history and beauty. Meeting so many interesting and kind people who made the week that bit extra special. A superb guide and the kindness and friendliness of the family

    What did you think of your group leader?

    A....MAZ...ING! There are not superlatives to describe Sara - it will be difficult to find a better guide on any future trips - that's for sure!!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take the advice on the web-site - the right walking gear and walking poles are a huge asset for this week. There are 2 tough walks but certainly do-able and worthwhile - I felt a real sense of achievement at the end of the week in spite of a wobble on day 2!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thank you for the experience. It will remain with me for quite some time to come. Thank you to the other people who joined the group and made it a week to remember...…..
  • Reviewed April 2019
    Regine Page

    I would do it again!

    An unknown region of Italy, mountainous and craggy, with peaks still covered in snow at the end of April. Although the weather was predominantly grey and wet, we made the most of it, and it was a wonderful week. In fact, the last walk was enhanced by the fog that gave the forest a mysterious and mystical atmosphere.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We walked to the rock arch of Monte Forato, a stunning wonder of nature.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sara Bull is better than excellent. She is an extraordinary being, very inspirational. From the minute we met her at the airport, she was attentive to all, caring and adjusting to the needs of each individual in the group. Every stage was explained in advance, choice was given but wisely directed, her advice was gently given. I thought I knew enough about walking, but I learned more about using my walking poles, protecting against ticks, etc. She was eloquent when communicating the beauty of a place, a corner of the world she deeply loves. She has a great generosity of spirit, and no one in the group felt left out. Encouraging and motivating calmly. You could go to the end of the world with her. Pier Luigi took over the guiding for a lovely valley walk, when he explained the history of the Garfagnana and the customs of the region, while visiting villages. I enjoyed his company.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The walks are moderately hard, so take walking poles (some might be available on site) and good walking boots. Do not forget your rain gear!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The Braccicorti agriturismo lodge is very welcoming. Angela and her team prepared delicious evening meals with local products. For lunch, no slab of bread and cheese, but an array of freshly made salads, local cheese, pesto.... As we were there at Easter, Angela offered a large chocolate egg which was shared between us, made of excellent dark chocolate. Honey came from the hives in the garden. Excellent wine. All to make a wonderful ambiance and camaraderie.
  • Reviewed October 2018

    Delivered as advertised, enhanced by the weather and autumnal colours. Excellent.

    A holiday that very much delivered as per the trip notes, with the varied hikes only being enhanced by the great weather and autumnal colours in the forests. A well established trip with a very experienced group leader and a good bunch of fellow travellers. For me, staying in one location is a plus, with only short minibus journeys required to reach the start point for each hike. And that one location was a lovely, relaxing one. The hikes themselves were of the activity level expected and challenging enough for the group. The rewards were great - generally involving walking through colourful beech or chestnut forests before reaching ridges and peaks with stunning views. Few other hikers were seen throughout the week. The hikes on days 3 and 7 stood out for me. All of the group visited Lucca on the "free day", which was a good choice, with plenty to explore for a good few hours. The trip also introduced me to the life of those living in the area, including exploring towns and villages. As would be expected, there are plenty of churches and other religious features.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to pick out one inspirational moment. It was more about the collective week and the varied experiences. But as noted previously, the hikes on days 3 and 7 were delightful.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Clearly very experienced and able to handle any apparent eventuality (not that we really had any of significance). Worth noting that (due to EU driving regulations, I think) she was with us for four of the six whole days, plus the two travel days. She lead on all of the mountain hikes, and did so very well. For me, she did dwell too much on what she'd done over the years for the trip and for previous travellers rather than let us judge her on first hand knowledge. Maybe some like to hear this, but it was not for me.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You might be able to come up with an "essentials equipment" list more appropriate than the one provided. Towel and swimming things are only necessary if you intend to swim in the pool, and that it's open. I happily wore hiking shoes, not boots, and walking poles certainly near essential for many of us of a certain age. You most likely will need to carry 2 litres of water on some hikes. Visiting Lucca does seem like the obvious choice for the free day.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Could more be made of day 8? There are plenty of hours between leaving the farmhouse at 9:30 and checking in for the group flight at approx 16:00. Our group were taken into Castelnuovo di Garfagnana for a few hours, but it doesn't offer a great deal. Perhaps direct to Pisa would be more worthwhile.
  • Reviewed September 2018
    Mark Booty

    Excellent trip

    It was a fantastic trip with some relay amazing walks and views.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The mountains the open space and the views are breath taking.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The views the open space

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I would recommend this trip

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    it was perfect
  • Reviewed September 2018

    A Truly Fabulous Walking Holiday

    This was a fabulous trip from start to finish. Beautiful and diverse scenery, great walking, great weather, and a great guide (Sara Bull). The grounds and views from the farmhouse at Braccicorti are stunning and it really is a great escape from the normality of everyday life. It was lovely to be able to relax in the pool after a day's walking.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I loved the ridge walks and scrambling so my favourite walking days were Monday when we did Dead Mans Belly and the Valley of Hell, Tuesday when we did Monte Tambura and Thursday when we did Monte Prado and Monte Cusna. Essentially I loved it all.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sara is an excellent guide, she goes above and beyond, although I think we were quite an easy going undemanding group. She's very knowledgeable about the local area, history and culture, and is a lovely person, really easy to talk to and get along with. She also does a lot of other high altitude treks so if you're interested in other trips it's worth picking her brains.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If like me, you're not a fan of a continental style breakfast, bring some snack bars. You may also want to bring ear plugs for the night in the refugio. And remember to bring your swimwear for the pool.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Simply brilliant trip all round and I'd recommend it.
  • Reviewed August 2018
    Sarah B

    'Happiness from small things'

    ' 'Happiness from small things' is what we want to give our guests; peace and tranquillity from our countryside, and company with which to discover the secrets and beautiful areas of Garfagnana' so says the Agriturismo Braccicorti website - and this trip provided just that. I was a little apprehensive initially, never having done an Exodus trip before and because my own level of fitness wasn’t what it had been and should have been. Yet, those apprehensions dissipated when I met the group and discovered Tuscany. Great company in my trekking companions and leader, and kind hospitality from the family – an enjoyable and memorable break overall (despite the pain in my knees!).

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Just stopping and taking in the breathtaking and spectacular scenery of the region, whilst walking or relaxing at the farmhouse. (and finding out that one member of our group had scaled Everest - three times!!)

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Liz excelled at every level. In addition to being immensely knowledgeable and organised, she was incredibly industrious, understanding, caring, funny, helpful - and very, very patient! It was very evident that she was passionate about the region, the walking/activity and her role. I cannot believe she eats cake! A worthy runner up for the Tour Leader Awards in 2014 (check out the Exodus website!) – but very much a winner in 2018 ;-)

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Ignore any apprehensions and go for it! Take mossie repellent.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    As others have commented - perhaps the trip could be extended to ten days? Or offer some dates for a ten days.

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