Walking in Tuscany
Tuscany is an Italian region famous for its culture and history in particular, but also for its stunning countryside and variety of natural scenery that ranges from plentiful vineyards to awe-inspiring mountains and rolling golden hills. It’s no surprise then that walking in Tuscany is one of the most popular activities for visitors to the area, who come to walk the historical routes and newly established pathways that link together towns, cities and rural settlements that are nestled into the Tuscan landscape.
Whether you’re a serious walking fanatic or just enjoy the occasional stroll, there is a brilliant range of different hiking trails in Tuscany suitable for all ages, abilities and experience. If you’re planning a walking tour through the Renaissance countryside or just want to know more about some of the best places to hike in Italy, we’ve got you covered with this guide to some of the best walking routes in Tuscany.
The Via Francigena is another ancient walking route that gets its name from France; the country that is connected to Italy by the trail. Traditionally, this path begins at Canterbury Cathedral in England and has been the favoured route of Christian pilgrims for hundreds of years, travelling from Britain to France, hiking through Switzerland and then walking across Italy to finish their journey in Rome.
400km of the Via Francigena passes through the region of Tuscany, and there are 16 different legs of the journey that you can complete individually or as an entire walk if you are staying in Italy for a longer period. Some sections of the route involve difficult climbs and are only suitable for those with good levels of physical fitness, whereas other parts of the trail are easy to traverse. Many legs of the journey take you through some of the most popular towns and villages in Tuscany, and you’ll be surrounded by incredible countryside or the stunning Tuscan mountains no matter which part of the path you choose.
Walking the Via Francigena has been considered a spiritual experience since it first became a pilgrimage route, and nowadays many travellers still feel a profound connection to the surrounding landscape as they walk. If you’re looking for a Tuscany hiking experience that combines history, culture and some of the finest views and settlements in the region, then this is the perfect route for you.
VIA DEGLI DEI
The Via Degli Dei, or ‘Path of the Gods’, is an ancient road used since the Roman times to connect Florence with Bologna. The name of this path is thought to derive from some of the mountains it passes by, which are named after the Roman goddesses of love, marriage and the moon; Monte Venere, Monzuno and Monte Luario. It’s a route also known as the Flaminian Way, and is made up of 130km of dirt roads and asphalt paths that are suitable for both hikers and cyclists.
The Path of the Gods is one of the most popular hiking trails in Tuscany, winding through the Apennine Mountains and offering a medium difficulty route to walkers that requires a good level of fitness for several steep ascents. Only around half of the route actually travels through the region of Tuscany, so you can just pick up part of the trail if you want to stay in the area, or walk the whole path from Florence to Bologna which takes between 4 and 6 days.
As well as an incredible range of mountain scenery and beautiful views of the Tuscan countryside, the entire route is peppered with hospitality options that include restaurants, snack bars, hotels and traditional Italian agriturismo accommodation. It’s one of the best places to hike in Italy if you want to enjoy trekking through the real landscape but don’t want to stray too far from civilization.
THE GRANDE ESCURSIONE APPENNINICA
Also referred to as the GEA, The Grande Escursione Appenninica takes walkers through the heart of the Apennine mountains that lie between the regions of Tuscany and Emilia Romagna. The route actually begins at the Bocca Trabaria Pass on the border of Umbria and ends in Liguria at the Due Santi Pass, but winds through the Tuscan mountains for 425km of beautiful alpine views and peaceful scenery.
The Grande Escursione Appenninica is one of the longest hiking trails in Tuscany and is divided into 23 different stages that are all an easy length suitable for the majority of walkers. Some sections take you very high up and require the use of cables for safety, but the route is designed to be accessible for every walker and so the terrain is not too challenging overall.
This is one of the best walking trails in Italy if you want to explore the country’s mountains without having to tackle too many steep or risky pathways, and is certainly the best mountainous hiking route in Tuscany. You’ll pass through many historic small towns and villages and get the chance to sample plenty of local hospitality, however much of the route you are planning on walking.
APUAN ALPS REGIONAL PARK
For another brilliant mountainous hiking destination, visit the Apuan Alps Regional Park on Tuscany’s Versilia coast and explore this huge protected area of the region on foot. The Alpi Apuane provides walkers with magnificent views of the sea along with beautiful mountain scenery and many impressive underground caves, offering a variety of different highlights that you can enjoy on various walks around the park.
You will find several different suggested routes for walks around the Apuan Alps Regional Park that are clearly marked, well paved and all fairly manageable with a good level of fitness. One of the most popular trails in the area is the ‘Anello del Monte Forato’ trek, which takes you to the famous Monte Forato (Holed Mountain), so named because of its large natural arch that forms a hole through the impressive limestone peak.
Another popular path is the ‘Grotta all’Onda’ which takes you 10km from the city of Camaiore in Lucca to the famous cave at the summit of Monte Matanna. The whole area is ideal for hikers who also have an interest in geography and want to see some of Tuscany’s most interesting mountains, lakes and valleys, but is also an ideal spot if you’re looking for a shorter walk through classic Italian landscapes.
THE RENAISSANCE RING
You can’t mention walking in Tuscany without featuring The Renaissance Ring; a 172km path that circles the glorious capital of Tuscany and features countryside paths, visits to Renaissance towns and plenty of other historical buildings and monuments. If you’re looking for opportunities for hiking near Florence then this route is the perfect option.
There are 13 different stages of The Renaissance Ring that form a series of walks around Florence suitable for hikers of all abilities. There are public transport links at the start and end of every section of the different walks, meaning that you can pick and choose which parts of the Ring you would like to walk and then travel back into Florence at the end of your hike. This is ideal for those who want to get out into the Tuscan countryside for some of their holiday, but also want to enjoy other activities during their trip.
The different legs of The Renaissance Ring will lead you to castles, towns, monasteries and churches that offer the perfect chance to rest your legs and find out more about the history and culture of the Tuscan region. The trail also loops through woodland, over hills and alongside valleys, offering a spectacular array of countryside scenery to admire as you walk.
Maremma is a small, secluded area of Italy found in the south of Tuscany that is home to one of the region’s lesser-known hiking trails; the Vetta Mare. This path is 151km and winds from the peak of Monte Amiata to the beaches of Porto Ercole, providing a wonderful route that encompasses the whole span of Tuscany’s famous scenery.
Vetta Mare is divided into 7 different stages that can be completed individually or one after the other, depending on how long you are in the area for. Each section is between 15-20km and made up of clearly signposted paths that are suitable for the majority of walkers, and also for cyclists. The hiking trail takes you through several different villages as well as showcasing Marermma’s landscape, and is a brilliant option for hiking in Tuscany if you want to enjoy coastal views as well as the countryside.
A sightseeing highlight of the Vetta Mare is the Sovana Archeological site. Home to the most impressive Etruscan tombs in Tuscany which date back to the 7th-6th century BC. If you’re less keen on history, then the Tarot Botanical Gardens are home to beautiful plants and flowers as well as contemporary sculptures that art and culture fans will love.
GAIOLE IN CHIANTI
The Chianti region of Tuscany is a beautiful place for hiking, and the city of Gaiole in Chianti and its surrounding area in Chianti is one of the best places to hike in Italy. This is thanks to the newly renovated and signposted network of hiking trails that crisscross the area, offering a wide range of different walks through the famous Chianti countryside.
There are 14 different loops that all converge through Gaiole in Chianti, taking walkers past castles, vineyards and through classic Tuscan hamlets that are dotted across the countryside. This area is perfect for those who want to enjoy a bit of gentle hiking during their holiday, but also want to be close to one of Italy’s finest wine-producing regions to enjoy the very best of local produce at the end of their walks!
The Via Sanse is an ancient road that connects two of the most magnificent cities in Tuscany; Florence and Siena. The route has been in use since the 13th century when both merchants and pilgrims had to travel through Florence to get to Rome from the northeast of Italy, and is still a very popular long-distance hiking trail for walkers in Tuscany today.
Split into 5 different sections, the Via Sanese travels through both the Val di Pesa and the Chianti areas, so is an excellent route for those who want to visit both the spectacular cities of Tuscany and its equally popular rural regions. There are many places to stop along the way if you plan on travelling the entire route, or you can pick up the path for a daytime walk and enjoy some of the area’s hospitality along the way.
SORGENTI DI FIRENZE TREKKING
Another circular hiking route in Tuscany is the Sorgenti di Firenze Trekking (Florence Springs Walking) system of hiking trails, referred to as SO.F.T. This system of hiking trails forms a large loop around the Mugello valley, linking together many of the Florentine Apennine mountains.
There are both primary and secondary trails available for walkers around this area of Tuscany, providing a great mix of gentle hills and steeper, mountainous inclines. All pathways are well signposted, and there is a huge variety of different routes that mean you can plan your walks to suit any need you and your walking party might have.
Here at Italy4Real, we have a number of different walking tour itineraries that can be customised to suit your trip requirements. If you’d like to plan a bespoke walking holiday in Tuscany, get in touch with a member of our team for expert help and advice.