Trekking in the Apennines

The Grande Escursione Appenninica

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14 Jan 2016
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.0cm

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Guidebook to the Grand Apennines Trek, or Grande Escursione Appenninica (GEA). Through Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna and 2 national parks, this 400km trail takes 23 days to complete, exploring the mountains, forests and hills of central Italy. Suitable for a range of walkers, it can be split into shorter sections or day walks if needed.

Seasons Seasons
spring through to autumn: late June-September fits best with accommodation availability in the central section
Centres Centres
Abetone, Arezzo, Bibbiena, Bologna, Parma, Pieve Pelago, Pistoia, Pontremoli, Porretta Terme, Prato, Reggio Emilia, Sansepolcro
Difficulty Difficulty
no special experience needed: any fit walker can embark on this route, and there are plenty of short sections, making the route perfect for bespoke walking holidays. The few moderately exposed stretches can always be detoured
Must See Must See
the Casentino National Park and Franciscan sanctuaries; the WW2 Gothic line; open ridges on the northern stretch; alpine-style lakes in the Apennines National Park; Monte Prado, Tuscany's highest peak (2054m); magnificent beech woods; alpine flowers
14 Jan 2016
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.0cm
  • Overview

    This guidebook describes the Grande Escursione Appenninica (GEA), a nearly 400km long, three week trek crossing the Appenines in 23 stages, from Bocca Trabaria to Passo Due Santi on the edge of Liguria. The route dips in and out of Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna, never dropping below 400 metres. Best walked between spring and autumn, it is suitable for any reasonably fit walker. Highlights include Monte Prado – Tuscany's highest peak – friendly villages and comfortable hotel-style accommodation, memorable meals and yet few walkers, besides the Casentino National Park and Franciscan sanctuaries, the WW2 Gothic line, open ridges on the northern stretch, alpine-style lakes in the Apennines National Park, magnificent beech woods and alpine flowers.

    The guidebook provides step-by-step route descriptions, accompanied by detailed mapping. There are transport options for joining and leaving the walk at a number of points, making it perfect for undertaking in small sections or single-day walks. There are suggestions for accommodation en route in comfortable guest houses and alpine-style huts, making it essential reading for anyone undertaking the GEA.

    The Apennines are Italy's best-kept secret. Forming the rugged spine of the Italian peninsula, this range provides thousands of kilometres of marked trails over rocky crests and ridges and explores extensive forests and meadows, following routes established long ago by traders, pilgrims and shepherds and little affected by mass tourism. Dotted throughout are historic sanctuaries, national parks and nature reserves, wildlife and wildflowers, incredible roads and passes, and stark memorials to the terrible events of World War II.

  • Contents

    The Apennines
    The GEA trek
    Highlights and shorter walks
    Plants and flowers
    Getting there
    Local transport
    When to go
    Food and drink
    What to take
    Using this guide
    The GEA
    Stage 1 Bocca Trabaria to Passo di Viamaggio
    Stage 2 Passo di Viamaggio to Caprese Michelangelo
    Stage 3 Caprese Michelangelo to La Verna
    Stage 4 La Verna to Badia Prataglia
    Stage 5 Badia Prataglia to Rifugio Città di Forlì
    Stage 6 Rifugio Città di Forlì to Passo del Muraglione
    Stage 7 Passo del Muraglione to Colla di Casaglia
    Stage 8 Colla di Casaglia to Badia Moscheta
    Stage 9 Badia Moscheta to Passo del Giogo
    Stage 10 Passo del Giogo to Passo della Futa
    Stage 11 Passo della Futa to Montepiano
    Stage 12 Montepiano to Rifugio Pacini
    Stage 13 Rifugio Pacini to Pracchia
    Stage 14 Pracchia to Lago Scaffaiolo
    Stage 15 Lago Scaffaiolo to Boscolungo
    Stage 16 Boscolungo to Lago Santo Modenese
    Stage 17 Lago Santo Modenese to Passo delle Radici
    Stage 18 Passo delle Radici to Passo di Pradarena
    Stage 19 Passo di Pradarena to Passo del Cerreto
    Stage 20 Passo del Cerreto to Prato Spilla
    Stage 21 Prato Spilla to Lago Santo Parmense
    Stage 22 Lago Santo Parmense to Passo della Cisa
    Stage 23 Passo della Cisa to Passo Due Santi

    Appendix A Route summary table
    Appendix B Italian–English glossary
    Appendix C Useful contacts
    Appendix D Background reading

  • Maps

    Walking maps showing details of landscape features, contour lines, road passes and settlements are an essential aid for walkers on this trek. The sketch maps provided in this book give as much detail as possible, and are intended as a guide to show the location of the route with access/exit routes. Due to limitations of space it is not possible to show all landmarks essential for navigation, and sometimes a shortened placename appears on the sketch map, for example Poggio Travi (Poggio delle Travi is used in the route description). Good user-friendly walking maps – carta escursionistica in Italian – are published by Kompass and Selca.

    Four handy waterproofed Kompass 1:50,000 maps cover the GEA, with the exception of the very start and the final stage.

    • Sheet 2459 for Stages 1–5
    • Sheet 2453 for Stages 6–10
    • Sheet 2452 for Stages 11–16
    • Sheet 2451 for Stages 17–22

    Selca does a good series. While not covering the entire trek, the following are helpful:

    • Valtiberina e Marca Toscana 1:50,000 for Stages 1–3
    • Parco Nazionale delle Foreste Casentinesi 1:25,000 for Stages 4–6
    • Alto Appennino Forlivese 1:50,000 for Stages 5–7
    • Alto Appennino Imolese 1:50,000 for Stages 8–11
    • Alto Appennino Bolognese 1:50,000 for Stages 12–15
    • Alto Appennino Modenese 1:25,000 for Stages 15–17
    • Parco Nazionale Appennino Tosco-emiliano 1:25,000 for Stages 18–22
    • Alto Appennino Parmense est 1:50,000 for Stages 21–22/first part of Stage 23
    • Alto Appennino Parmense ovest 1:50,000 for last part of Stage 23

    Many maps are available in towns and villages across the Apennines, as well as the occasional local tourist office. Sansepolcro at the very start of the GEA is well supplied. Overseas suppliers include The Map Shop at Upton upon Severn, Worcestershire and Stanfords stores in London and Bristol; otherwise order from the online bookshop in Florence

  • Updates
    Receive updates by email
    Be notified by email when this book receives an update or correction

    Oct 2017

    p120 Lovely Albergo Carpe Diem at Passo di Pradarena at the end of Stage 18 has changed management and is now thankfully open once again:

    tel 0522 899113 or mob 388 6471360, email: [email protected]

    (Thanks to Barbara O)



    August 2016

    p72 Locanda della Colla

    p120 Albergo Carpe Diem is currently closed. Stay at Rifugio Bargetana on the previous stage.

    p141 Locanda degli Aceri is closed so go to the Ostello. Contact via email [email protected] or phone: mobiles 328 8741814 or 347 4197674. The land line 0525 629072 no longer works.

    p145 Zum Zeri website no longer works

    (Thanks to Martin and Sue)

  • Reviews

    Oct 2017 -Barbara O'Loan

    We completed stages 15 - 19 of the Apennines GEA using Gillian Price's Guide book. The paths were very well marked and Gillian's descriptions accurate and kept us right!


    "Just to thank Cicerone for the recent re-issue of Gillian Price’s excellent Trekking in the Apennines – the GEA.

    The GEA was a fabulous experience. Very best wishes for continuing to bring Italy and other locations to life so well. We've greatly valued Cicerone guides for many years and it's refreshing when the enthusiasm for the places shines through the text.

    Best regards,

    Peter and Judi"


    In the words of Gillian Price, the author of this guidebook, "The mountainous Apennines. without doubt, are Italy's bestkept secret." She goes some way towards rectifying that situation for English-speaking hikers.

    The route in question covers about 400 kilometres of the northern part of the range, mainIy in Tuscany, and is roughly bisected by a line drawn from Bologna to Florence. The route was designed in the early 1980s and was opened by no less a figure than Reinhold Messner in 1983. The walking is straightforward on paths, forest tracks and lanes, but parts of the northern section are on exposed crests, which can be avoided if necessary. The route is divided into twenty-three sections, the longest section being 25km.

    The guidebook itself is a handy pocket-sized volume in the style of the Cicerone series. lt is profusely illustrated with delightful pictures and route sketches in colour. The author points out that the sketches are not sufficient for naVigation and that 1:50,000 maps should be used. The sources for such maps are indicated. The altitude profiles are useful and include symbols for accommodation and transport connections so that such planning is simplified. Generally, the profiles and maps are on the same page or on a facing page, and can be viewed togethel~ In a few instances the profile is on the reverse of the map, making its use a little awkward.

    Single-day or multiple-day walks are very feasible, thanks to the excellent public transport network to the villages and mountain passes. The author suggests a number of these of up to three days in duration.

    With Aer Lingus and Ryanair serving both Pisa and Bologna from Dublin. any of these options is readily accessible and this guidebook is a very worthwhile companion for this long-distance trail.

    Kevin Higgins.

    Hillwalker, mountaineer, secretary of Tyndall Mountain ClUb, Kilkenny

    Review published in the Irish Mountain Log, Spring 2016





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Gillian Price

Gillian Price was born in England but has lived in Venice for many years. Gillian has steadily explored the mountain ranges of Italy, and Corsica, and brought them to life for visitors in a series of outstanding guides for Cicerone. She is an active member of the Italian Alpine Club (CAI) and Mountain Wilderness.

View Articles and Books by Gillian Price