March 02, 2019
“People think that Tuscany only means hills and cypress trees. My region is so much more”.
This is what I wrote in my Instagram post about my Alpi Apuane day a few weeks ago.
What comes to you from the internet -as a massive sharing of Tuscany's beauties- isn’t the whole reality of that territory. Tuscany has a variety of landscapes that makes me feel so grateful for belonging to such a unique place. And this is why I am here, ‘holding happiness into my hands’, because I am so proud to share this with you and let you know something you may would never discovered!
So let’s give this tale a a start!
The chain of Alpi Apuane is right here in the northern part of Tuscany. It is under the province of Lucca, although, as you drive up a mountain the road can be quite long even from the closest city.
These Alps have several mountains and each one is reachable with signalled paths and also they are in communication one another still thanks to the CAI tracks. (CAI = Italian Alpine Club). They are signaled in red and white stripes.
You can reach the peaks starting from specific villages or from the Shelters.
This means that before you leave you must already know which mountain you're to directed to, which trail you will follow and search for the starting point where to drop the car.
In this article I am going to share one single day of hike where I headed to a mountain called Piglione.
It isn’t one of the main ones(like could be Pania, Forato, Prana and others) and it’s also quiet easy to reach it in my opinion. I don’t do regular gym or hikes or run so I can say that I am not trained especially with my breath. I had no problems to reach up, as I took my time and rested along the way when I needed.
I believe it takes no more than one hour and a half from my starting point to the peak. I say ‘I believe’ because I did some deviations and didn’t really checked the exactly timing, but I am pretty sure about it.
The choice of this destination it was obiusly to skip the most crowded mountains. I just wanted to be into that wild, with my friend and no noises around, no screaming people or large groups around. This can happen in summer and along the whole year Sundays.
Silence, lunar landscape, cleaning-mind wind, healthy light food and that’s it.
We went up on a February Sunday. It means that it is still cold in Italy and particularly up the mountains so I decided for a hike which would be exposed to the sun for the most of the time.
My starting point is the Shelter of the mountain called Matanna. You can go there by car, with one hour drive from Lucca(and 2 from Florence). No parking tickets: you will arrive in a very rustic mountain location. There is this Matanna Shelter which do hosting, bar and restaurant. They have lots of animals that you can easily see such as deers, peacocks, gooses ecc..
That Shelter is a perfect spot for families and old people because it has very nice grasses nearby where people go to pic-nic and keep them-selves fresh along the summer days, without having to walk long of difficult distances.
The grasses and nature around isn’t private property, so you can freely go to stay. The Shelter is a very good thing for the basic needs.
From the Shelter Matanna (named after the Mountain) you are just about the top of the Matanna Mountain, and the path to reach Piglione is all up the tops, that’s why it is well exposed.
The classic starting to reach Piglione Mountain would be the village called Casoli (still one hour from Lucca and a completely different road respect to the one to reach Matanna Shelter). From Casoli you can start a path right into the woods for about one hour and a half, and then you can be sun-exposed for I don't know how long to reach the Piglione peak. It is very good in summer for a most complete hike, longer and well shadowed.
Anyways, as you see down in the pictures, the track I chose is the number 101 until the signaled point “Foce del Crocione”. From there you’ll start the trail number 103 and then you'll be following a track which isn’t a CAI trail so it means that you aren’t following the same white-red traces but they’ll be blue. The exactly position of that switching trails it's easy to see on your map!
The blue-signaled trail is a safe one and it goes up the top of the mountain Piglione. That’s also the hardest part, I enjoyed it a lot and it makes you perfectly tired for your arrival, when conquering the top will give you the primitive feeling of every man alone reaching for the first time an untouched place. The feeling is just that XD !!
Up there, under the Iron Cross (which is on almost every mountain’s top) the landscape is mesmerizing! That silent is as thick as light. The air is way lighter than the lower territories in Tuscany. The eyes are just so rewarded with the close mountains shapes, scratching the sky with their tops. Some snow above the further Appenine (another Italian chain of Mountains you see in the distance) and behind you the ‘shoulders’ of Piglione, running amazingly alone and long into that wild, natural and light silence.
We spent the most of the time up there, eating, chatting, sleeping, writing the “mountain-diary” (find it under the iron cross, into an iron box, ready for everyone to leave their thoughts).
When the light started to become of those warmer tones which leads to the sunsets, we prepared our way down.
The thing I am more grateful for is that, willing or not, you end up not thinking when up there. Right above I wrote “cleaning-mind wind”, because that’s exactly what happens; that environment gives fulfillment on another level. I am a kind of person which over think and also stress a lot about it. I didn’t realize what was happening, but on my way down I felt like “Oh man, why do I feel so different? Oh my Gosh, I didn’t have a single thought about duties, worries, things to do, the life down there.” Cleaning is the word. I consciously breathe that sensation all the way down. Before we happened to stand in front in one of the most amazing, breath-taking, unbelievable sunset landscapes I have ever seen here or in my entire life.
We reached the Matanna Shelter perfectly on time for the night to come. All animals were going into their sleeping places.
I can’t recommend enough this experience.
So, after the Matanna shelter of course you are into the wild and you must have all the thing you need with you.
What I put in my bag is:
-Tea Thermos (400ml)
-1,5 liter of water
- One container with home-made salad (lettuce, almonds, scamorza cheese, sesame seeds, under-oil capsicums) also carried almonds for snacking and chocolate wafers. Be sure to carry energetic food because you’ll probably need it. Also I used cloth napkin and regular fork, because with the wind paper and plastic may easily fly away and create pollution.
- Map of the Alpi Apuane, never without when up there.
- A thin blanket
- Camera (of course)
- I don’t use them a lot but sunglasses are useful
- Extra little sack to carry rubbish just in case
- Nose tissue, always in need when the body moves up there
- I didn’t, but you maybe want to consider the sun’s cream, even if it's February
Also wearing good shoes for hiking is required for the health of your feet and to not turn the way back in a Calvary way!
From April to October is a good timing.
The rest of the months you maybe find snow and ice and I totally avoid it because it can be really dangerous. So I definetly do not recommend the winter season.
Also, if you are trying to reach a shelter in the winter season please call them to know if they are open.
Since it is February(and this year it's been a warm one), before going up I asked both to people around me who knows well those mountains and also I found a very good help in the dedicated facebook group “Escursioni sulle Alpi Apuane”:https://www.facebook.com/groups/48021712207/?epa=SEARCH_BOX
I posted my question to know if there was still snow or ice on the Piglione and I had several answers both from Apuane experts or people who had just been there saying it was perfectly safe. It’s been so helpful. Notice that it is in Italian, but I believe if you post your question in English you’ll be helped anyway!
The most crowded months are June, July and August, especially during the week-ends and public holidays. You can literally find your-self surrounded by dozens of people. It can be okay, or sometimes just too much.
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