Trekking in the Apennines
The Grande Escursione Appenninica
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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.
- spring through to autumn: late June-September fits best with accommodation availability in the central section
- Abetone, Arezzo, Bibbiena, Bologna, Parma, Pieve Pelago, Pistoia, Pontremoli, Porretta Terme, Prato, Reggio Emilia, Sansepolcro
- 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
- 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
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.
The GEA trek
Highlights and shorter walks
Plants and flowers
When to go
Food and drink
What to take
Using this guide
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
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 www.themapshop.co.uk at Upton upon Severn, Worcestershire and Stanfords stores in London and Bristol www.stanfords.co.uk; otherwise order from the online bookshop in Florence www.stella-alpina.com.
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Be notified by email when this book receives an update or correction
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)
p72 Locanda della Colla www.locandadellacolla.it
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)
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.
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.
Hillwalker, mountaineer, secretary of Tyndall Mountain ClUb, Kilkenny
Review published in the Irish Mountain Log, Spring 2016
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
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