7 Best Places to Hike in Tuscany

People flock to Tuscany's "year-round coast" in the summer months for wine and food tourism, but you'll also find solitude here in nature.

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Photo By: Kassondra Cloos

Photo By: Kassondra Cloos

Photo By: Kassondra Cloos

Photo By: Kassondra Cloos

Photo By: Kassondra Cloos

Photo By: Kassondra Cloos

Photo By: Kassondra Cloos

Abetone

The ski resort town of Abetone has dramatic landscapes in every direction full of trails for all levels. When you see the view from the top of the mountains, you'll see exactly why this small town is sister cities with Aspen, Colo. Venture to Mammiano Basso for a hike that crosses a river by means of a pedestrian suspension bridge 700 feet long and 115 feet high. In the summer months, you can take a lift to the top of the ski resort and hike or bike back down.

Forte Falcone

Throughout Tuscany, you'll find it's often just a short trek from one town to the next. And even within towns, you'll find scores of walks brimming with history. One of those is the "urban hike," if you will, to the top of the Forte Falcone in the Fortezza Medicea—Medicean Fortress—on Elba Island. Take a ferry here from Livorno, then walk from Via Della Regina to the lookout points in the fort's watchtowers. You'll be able to see the house where Napoleon Bonaparte lived when he was exiled to Elba. The walk is short, but the views are spectacular, so be sure to give yourself enough time to explore.

Padule di Fucecchio

Padule di Fucecchio is home to the largest inland marsh in Italy, as well as hundreds of species of birds. Bring your binoculars here to hike along trails and boardwalks canopied by leafy trees. A well-placed bird hide at the edge of the marsh will help you spy on the fauna.

Monte Amiata

Hike for a few hours or a few days on Monte Amiata, southern Tuscany's little-known volcano. Much of the mountain is shrouded in an enchanting beech forest covered in moss that will make you think you're walking through a fairytale. The Anello di Monte Amiata trail, about 18.5 miles, circles the summit. Consider staying at Le Macinaie in the charming town of Abbadia San Salvatore, right at the base of the mountain, where you can hike or bike from the front door. Le Macinaie also offers guided services for nearby adventures.

Citta del Tufo, Sovana

The ancient Etruscans carved canyons into soft rock thousands of years ago, sometimes more than 20 feet deep. These paths, called Vie Cave, connect necropolises and temples, like this one, and are pitted with caves carved into the walls. Archaeologists don't know exactly why the Etruscans went to such lengths to carve these roads, but if one thing is clear, it's that there's lots more we've yet to discover.

In 2004, a rainstorm caused a mudslide that revealed an elaborate tomb and stone sculptures just a few hundred yards from this temple, and there are likely scores more ruins waiting to be found just beneath the surface. Start at the archaeological park Citta del Tufo, then wander along the adjacent Via Cava to marvel at ancient engineering. There's something to be said for experiencing something spiritual like this on your own, but consider hiring a local guide, if you can. You'll appreciate having someone along who can answer your inevitable questions.

Via Francigena, Val d'Orcia

The Via Francigena is a trade route that stretches 1,000 miles from Canterbury, England through France and Switzerland to Rome. While there are stretches where you must hike along a road that's now shared with cars, you'll still find postcard views in every direction. And unlike the backpacking you'd find in the U.S., you'll come across towns—and, of course, vineyards—frequently, making it easy to spend a week or more traveling slowly through time. Hostels, hotels and restaurants are easily accessible from the trail, as are the countless churches you'll find in even the smallest towns in Tuscany. Wherever you start, make sure you take time to pass through the Val d'Orcia, one of Tuscany's most scenic valleys. It's also home to the village of Bagno Vignoni, known for its natural thermal waters and hot pools.

Bagni San Filippo

Monte Amiata might be a dormant volcano now, but there's still geothermal energy heating natural hot springs around Tuscany. Skip the developed pools you pay to visit at the Terme San Filippo in Bagni San Filippo and hike to the Balena Bianca, or "white whale," instead. Here, you'll find a massive calcium formation that looks like a waterfall, with hot pools below.