Last Modified: 18 Feb 2013
Walking in Tuscany
Trip code: ZZXT
Validity: 01 Jan 2012 to 31 Mar 2013
The rural enclave in northwest Tuscany known as the Garfagnana, meaning 'enchanted forests', has to be one of Italy's best-kept secrets. Within reach of the Tuscan gems of Lucca, Pisa and Florence, Garfagnana's appeal lies more in its isolation, lack of tourism and striking scenery. This area of outstanding natural beauty nestles between two distinct mountain ranges, the spectacular jagged 'marble mountains' of the Alpi Apuane and the rolling spine of Italy, the Apennines. Our paths thread their way between the hilltop and lakeside villages where the traditional rural lifestyle of tending and harvesting their bountiful produce continues. Every season demands our attention, with carpets of flowers in the crisp springtime giving way to long hot summer days followed by the rich autumnal hues of chestnut and beech forests.
The operator for this trip is our experienced sister company Exodus. Your group will therefore be a mixture of Intrepid booked passengers and other international like-minded travellers.
Table of Contents
- Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Day 1 Arrive Garfagnana Valley
Buongiorno! Welcome to Italy.
Start at our base, a journey of 2 hours from Pisa airport (depending on traffic).
Lodge (1 nt)
Days 2-7 Day walks from Garfagnana Valley
We spend the next six days doing five optional day walks through enchanted forests and pretty hilltop villages. Plus there is one free day to visit Pisa, Lucca or Florence or choose from a variety of unguided walks.
We usually start the week with a breakfast either in the lodge (or the terrace overlooking the valley and mountains beyond). Then straight from Braccicorti, we embark on our walk through forests of the lower Apennines, where we are rewarded with great views from the fortified town of Castiglione di Garfagnana. We may be in Tuscany, but the Garfagnana is a world away from the popular tourist sites of Chianti and Florence. A range of flora and fauna still inhabits these mountains and one of the best places to see them is Orecchiella Natural Park. One of our walks leads us through the woodland of this wonderful Natural Park to reach the broad high plain of Pania di Corfino (1603 m), a habitat for deer, hawks and eagles. From here, we enjoy beautiful views of the Serchio Valley and majestic Apuane Alps.
Another walk, may take in the incredible views of the Apennine ridge above the pretty village of Casone. We continue our walk over the Bocca di Massa (1816m), where some shepherds may still be tending to their pastureland.
The week also includes, one of the best walks of the region that takes us through the forests up to the summit of Monte Sumbra (1,765m), where we are rewarded with wonderful views including 'The Dead Man'. This unusual name refers to a ridge of mountains which viewed from a certain angle produce a pronounced head, with forehead, nose and chin, the stomach (Pania della Croce), and the knees and feet comprise the Pizza di Saette. We will also see the marble quarries, birthplace of Michelangelo's David, and enjoy lovely views to the
distant Mediterranean and the surrounding mountain scenery.
Lodge (6 nts)
Day 8 Depart Garfagnana
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
At times local life here will be familiar to that of back home, and at times very different. Services are available most of the time, English may not be the native language, and there may be some cultural differences.
This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
For moderate grade weeks, ascents and descents of 400 to 700 metres should be expected and we usually walk 4 to 6 hours each day, so a reasonable level of fitness is required. For challenging grade weeks, we usually walk between 5 and 8 hours per day.
The majority of the paths are good / well maintained,yet a few sections are less frequently used and rougher underfoot, with some steep ascents and descents.
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in the following destinations: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain. All other European countries still have their own national currencies.
The most convenient and cheapest way to acquire money is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) or Bancomat as they are often referred to. Check with your bank in advance concerning the suitability of your account / card overseas and any international fees that will be applied.
You can obtain local currencies easily at airports and major train stations, but be sure to bring some extra emergency cash in a major currency that can be exchanged if the ATMs are not functioning.
When leaving home don't forget your PIN and make sure you know the telephone number for cancelling your card if it is stolen. Keep this in a safe place.
Credit cards are not always accepted in stores and restaurants. While travelling we recommend you carry some cash to pay for restaurant bills and other services. Change can be difficult to obtain so throughout the day, try to gain as many small denominations as you can.
You might be advised to take some of your money as travellers' cheques from a major financial institute. Travellers' cheques have security advantages, however please be aware that the exchange rates may not be favourable and that it is difficult to change Travellers' cheques in most countries. Be particularly aware that after hours money exchanges and hotel receptions carry high commissions- sometimes up to 20%.
For money safety we recommend that you carry your cash and credit cards in a secure money belt or pouch concealed under your clothes.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.
The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - leave the loose change. More up-market restaurants we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest EUR1-2 per person per day for local guides.
Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline EUR3 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
This trip is operated by our trusted local partners, Exodus.
The minimum age of clients on this trip is 16 years. Please note that teenagers aged 16 or 17 must be accompanied by (and share accommodation with) a parent or legal guardian.
Maximum of 14 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
A single supplement is available on this trip, please refer to your booking agent for further information.
Lodge (7 nts)
Our lodge-style base, Braccicorti, is home to some real Italian family hospitality. The traditional stone building is 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 double/twin 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.
There is no charge for the single rooms but they are allocated on a first come first served basis and should be requested upon booking. Please note that the single rooms share a bathroom with the twin room in the same apartment.
It is not a hotel and the local family, who live next door, clean the rooms once during the week. There are dogs and cats at the farmhouse.
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
7 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners
Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
Breakfast: Continental style with a choice of cereal, bread, yoghurt and milk with an array of teas/coffee.
Lunch: packed lunches are included for the daywalks.
Dinner: All included meals are taken at Braccicorti (on C-graded week 1 dinner is taken in the mountain refuge).
Vegetarians are usually well catered for in this area. Those who require gluten free diets, we recommend taking items with you, as it is not easy to purchase gluten free products locally.
Braccicorti operate an 'honesty bar' where you help yourself to drinks and pay the family at the end of the week.
There will be a British leader and drivers and local guides where needed.
strada Provinciale 38/A, Loc. Braccicorti - Pontecosi
Joining point instructions
The start hotel is approximately 1.5 – 2 hours drive from Pisa Airport. It is possible to reach the accommodation using public transport. Trains run from Pisa Central to Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. The train journey costs approx. €5 for a 2-hour journey. Trains timetable can be found on www.ferroviedellostato.it. From Castelnuovo, it is a 10-minute taxi ride to Braccicorti, which should cost €15 (the phone number of a local taxi company will be provided on the Final Joining Instructions, as there are no taxi ranks at Castelnuovo station).
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
strada Provinciale 38/A, Loc. Braccicorti - Pontecosi
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
EUROPEAN COUNTRIES ON THIS TRIP (EXCLUDING RUSSIA, UKRAINE, TURKEY):
Australia: No - Not required
Belgium: No - Not required
Canada: No - Not required
Germany: No - Not required
Ireland: No - Not required
Netherlands: No - Not required
New Zealand: No - Not required
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: No - Not required
UK: No - Not required
USA: No - Not required
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
CLIMATE & CLOTHING:
May departures can expect warm days, although rain is always possible. Nights may still 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, yet visibility is usually better. We strongly recommend a fleece-lined jacket or warm sweater in May, September and October.
The majority of the paths are good / well maintained, yet a few sections are less frequently used and rougher underfoot, with some steep ascents and descents. Some trails can be overgrown and trousers are recommended, as this area is not heavily visited. Early in the season there may be snow patches and snowshoes may have to be used.
On the trips using the more challenging alternate itinerary 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, washing kit, a spare 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.
You will need the following:
- Lightweight walking boots (with good tread and ankle support)
- Small sized day sack (30 litres capacity will be sufficient) for camera, water bottle etc.
- Sun cream, hat and sun glasses
- Towel and swimming things
- Waterproofs and warm clothes (useful for inclement weather)
For weeks where the more challenging alternate itinerary is used, you will need:
- Sleeping bag liner (for overnight in refuge)
- Warm 2-season jacket/jumper (for some evenings and the ridge walk) and woolly hat and gloves
We recommend for both itineraries:
- Woolly hat and gloves
- Walking poles
- Small umbrella in case of unexpected showers
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
In general, there are few dress restrictions in Europe. Note when visiting churches that modest dress is required - shorts or skimpy tops may not be permitted.
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
After your travels, we want to hear from you! This is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next trip if your feedback is completed online within 4 weeks of finishing your trip.