Martin Shepley

Mountains & Medieval Cities

Martin Shepley
Mountains & Medieval Cities

Walking in the Mountains of Tuscany – 5-12 August, 2012

San Marcello is only an hour and a half from the airport at Pisa and the pressing crowds thronging around the leaning tower, but is another world away completely.

 

The crowds around one of Italy’s most renowned attraction: the leaning tower of Pisa

High in the Tuscan mountains it is relatively cool compared to the coastal plain and life is lived at a less frenzied pace.

We could see the mountain peaks and high ridges glowing in the sunset, where we would walk during the week ahead, as we strolled around the town on our first evening.

 

Without spoiling the week for others, all I will say is that the walks are quite different. The first is in the wooded valleys visiting ancient villages, medieval bridges and a rather exciting suspension bridge, one to a mountain lake named “Nero” (black in Italian) but is, in fact, very, very blue.

 

Another followed the main ridge walk with lots of leg stretching opportunities and marvellous views. The most strenuous was the shortest. It had a challenging scramble up and over limestone boulders to the summit from which we could see the previous day’s ridge walk.

We all had a sense of achievement as we recovered from our exertions at the top. We returned to another section of the ridge for our final day and found quite a nice café at the top which was a nice surprise.

However, San Marcello wasn’t just about ridges and views. There was time for a wine tasting evening, some local music, a rustic lunch by the river, a day in the medieval walled city of Lucca and for those who thought that scrambling is only for eggs there was an optional visit to Florence or an afternoon learning the art of pasta making in the hotel kitchens under the watchful eye of our jolly hostess Cinzia.

San Marcello has a lot to offer and we managed much in our week but there are many more delights and challenges in these glorious mountains: I think that some of us will be back in the high Apennines again soon.