Tuscany Adventure: 5 top-picked outdoor activities
Tuscany is popular world wide for its gorgeous art cities, cypress-lined countryside roads and Chianti ruby wine. Did you know Tuscany is also home of some enthralling outdoor activities? In this article I will introduce you to some top-picked Tuscany adventure activities.
I grew up in Lunigiana – historic area in Northern Tuscany, surrounded by the spectacular peaks of the Apennines and Apuan Alps and only 30 minute drive from the Coast.
Lush chestnut woods and pristine rivers is the image of Tuscany that I am used to, but I’ve soon realized this doesn’t match the perception foreigners have of my Region.
When I returned to Italy after few years living abroad, I appreciated even more the amazing landscape that surrounds me and the infinite opportunities for outdoor activities that one can enjoy in Tuscany.
I worked for years in the promotion of my area as an ideal destination for the outdoors being a step away from 3 different Parks (the Apennines, Apuan Alps and Cinque Terre) but it was not easy to explain to travellers that this area is very different to the “Classic” Tuscany.
Florence, Pisa, the Chiantishire draw millions of tourists every year, they are certainly must-sees but need no further promotion.
For this reason since 2017, the Tuscan Region has kicked off a 2-year project to launch the new brand Tuscany Adventure Times aiming at promoting the unexplored natural beauty of the Region.
As part of my job cooperating with the inbound tour operator That’s Tuscany , I was involved in the first Tuscany Adventure Week that took place in September 2017 and to the 2018 Adventure Travel World Summit organised by the Region with the Adventure Travel and Trade Association.
I had the chance to get to know the many outdoor activities you can experience from North to South, from climbing to coasteering.
My 5 favourite Tuscany adventures
The skyline trail runs along the edge of the Apennine range offering breathtaking views over glacial lakes surrounded by blueberry groves and stretching as far as the Italian Alps and the Mediterrenean Sea. You can go for a day hike or multi-day trek, however be aware of the few mountain refuges or shelters to stop overnight. A challenging hike but you will be rewarded by the panoramas and the fact you hardly meet any other hiker!
My top-of-the world place where to sit and enjoy the grandeur of nature.
This historic pilgrimage route stretching from Canterbury to Rome is becoming increasingly popular, especially in its Tuscan stage (380 km in total), however it still preserves all its character and authenticity. The most trodden itinerary is between Lucca and S.Gimignano, where you can hike or cycle among the characteristic Tuscan countryside of the Val d’Orcia, the hills covered with olive groves and vineyards of the S.Miniato and Montalbano area, passing by the lovely historic villages of Gambassi Terme and Monteriggioni.
In my opinion, the northern part from the Cisa Pass to Sarzana is far less crowded but “wilder”, offering challenging hike through chestnut woods with panoramic glimpses over the Lunigiana valley, the Apennines and the sea, walking by quaint rural villages and hilltop castles that seem suspended in time.
Aa natural gorge boasting crystal pools and high multi-colored rockwalls that you can explore in and out the water, walking and swimming.
It is not a park so it is free entrance but it is recommended to follow some rules i.e. wearing proper walking shoes and wetsuit or similar since the water is freezing! You need to be able to swim as there is no other access. Not suitable for small kids. Advisable to visit with a guide but safe to go also on your own. The gorge is located in Lunigiana (Northern Tuscany).
The Apuan Alps are an incredible geological heritage boasting hundreds of caves and pristine rivers to explore walking, jumping and abseiling with ropes. Especially in the Garfagnana area (province of Lucca) there are some excellent sites for canyoning or caving that you can visit joining a tour with a professional guide. Just choose one and you will always want to explore more.
Gorgeous natural canyon that you can explore through zip lines,Tibetan bridges and slack lines suspended 100meters over the turquoise water of the Lima torrent, where you can cool off at the end of the itinerary.
Why I like it? Because it is not an artificial adventure park but a low-impact project set in a stunning natural scenery. The continuous lifeline system makes it completely safe and easy to move around reducing the stress of checking that all carabineers are firmly secured and perfect also for beginners 😉
These are only some of the best Tuscany adventure experiences to explore authentic and hidden gems on foot and by bike.