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      our holidays > Walking Holidays > Italy & its Islands > Other Regions > The Secret Apennines

The Secret Apennines

The Apennines - the unknown Italian mountains
Starting point:

Hotel Helvetia in Porretta Terme.

Day 1
Porretta Terme to Lizzano: 9.5km, 4hrs

As your first walk is not overly long, you could take some time to explore Porretta Terme before setting off. When you are ready, you strike out uphill in the direction of Castelluccio, an ancient village with a crumbling castle and sweeping views over the surrounding area to reward the occasionally steep ascent. Most of the walk is flat, however, and as you pass through a series of other captivating hamlets including le Croci. Your destination is the Hotel Il Fondaccio in Lizzano in Belvedere, where you stay two nights. From here the views – as the village's name suggests – are every bit as panoramic as those of Castelluccio, if not more so.

Day 2
Circular walk via Mount Belvedere: 13.5km, 5hrs

For your day in Lizzano, we recommend a fairly strenuous circular walk that starts with a transfer and then ascends to the summit of Mount Belvedere, so named because it offers a 360-degree panorama of the Apennines. Part of the route is along the ‘Freedom Path’ that commemorates the heroism and sacrifice of the local resistance fighters and American troops who fought the Germans here.

Day 3
Lizzano to Pianaccio: 11.5km, 4.5hrs

Leaving Lizzano, you gradually ascend towards Monteacuto, passing several hamlets, the Sanctuary of Madonna del Faggio, old water mills and 'window' viewpoints through the trees from which you can look to the dramatic peaks of La Nuda and Monte Grande. At Monteacuto it is well worth taking some time to explore, as the medieval village is one of the region's prettiest. From here, you descend to your destination, Pianaccio, and the welcoming Antica Locanda Alpina for two nights.

Day 4
Circular walk via Porta Franca: 16.5km, 6hrs

The day starts with a short transfer, after which you have a steady ascent to Porta Franca and its refuge on the border between Tuscany and Emilia Romagna. At certain times of year, many migrating birds can be seen soaring above the peaks – if you are feeling energetic, you can detour to the summit of Mount Gennaio. To return to Pianaccio, you descend across the high pastures of the western flank of the Corno alle Scale, following an ancient mule track.

Day 5
Pianaccio to Vidiciatico via Monte Grande: 10km, 4.5hrs
Poor weather, low-level valley option: 11km, 4.5hrs

From Pianaccio, you have a choice of routes to your final hotel.
The first ascends steadily through the tranquil, wooded Bagnatori Valley to the panoramic summit of Monte Grande, from where a path descends via a delightful hamlet to the attractive village of Vidiciatico. If the weather is poor, we recommend a second option which bypases the summit of Monte Grande to a lovely col, before descending to Vidiciatico and the Hotel Montegrande for your final two nights.

Day 6

For your last day, you have a choice of three routes, two of which involve a short transfer at the start of the day and finish at a romantic 16th-century sanctuary, from where you are collected for the short car journey back to your hotel.

• CORNO ALLE SCALE: 12km, 5hrs

This is probably the highlight walk of the week. After a transfer to Madonna dell’Acero (a beautiful 16th-century sanctuary), you follow the Dardagna river along the valley to the Dardagna Falls. There is a stepped path alongside the waterfall providing the opportunity to experience at least three of its main tiers from up close. From the falls, you enjoy open views on your way to Lago del Scaffaiolo followed by a stunning ridge walk to the highest point, Corno alle Scale crowned by the iconic metal cross that has been visible for most of your time in the Apennines. You descend on a track, then a lovely forest path to the refuge and lake at Cavone where you will be collected.

• DARDAGNA VALLEY: 7km, 3hrs

This shorter, low level walk is mostly in the cover of trees, so ideal for poor weather. You are transferred to Poggiolforato, from where you follow the Dardagna river to the Dardagna Falls. Ascend the stepped path alongside the waterfalls, getting up close to at least three of its main tiers. From the top, you follow forest tracks to Madonna dell’Acero (a beautiful 16th-century sanctuary) where you may wish to spend some time exploring the church before your transfer back to Vidiciatico.

• VESCOVI & FARNÉ: 9km, 4hrs; longer option 16km, 5.5hrs

If you want a short walk, or if the weather is poor, this is a lovely, flat, low-level walk, enabling you to get ‘under the skin’ of the local region. From the hotel, you follow quiet country lanes, through pastureland, and short sections on busier roads (but not for long) to explore peaceful villages like Vescovi and Farné with stunning views of the lowlands and valleys.
There is an option to extend your day by visiting the Chiesa Parrocchiale di San Martino church and bell tower at Rocca Cornet.

Great city breaks

To extend your holiday, why not add on a night or two in gastronomic Bologna? For details of adding stay in Tuscany's secret gem Lucca, or in cosmopolitan Florence, please see price panel.

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 Grade 2-3 Walk
Local Map
 Walking Chart
Walking Chart:The Secret Apennines This is an approximation only. If comparing holidays, please note the scale of the chart as this can differ.
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