Outdoor Activities in Tuscany

Information on the national parks, nature reserves and locations for hiking, walking, mountain biking and other outdoor activities around the provinces of Tuscany...

A region in central Italy, Tuscany is bordered by Emilia-Romana, Liguria, Umbria and Marche, Lazio and the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west. Its landscape consists of hills, plains and mountainous areas.

The main river is the Arno, which flows through the cities of Florence and Pisa. Other rivers include the Ombrone, Magra, Serchio, Sieve and Bisenzio.

Coastal areas have a mild summer and winter climate, whereas moving further inland the weather is increasingly continental. Inland areas experience hot summers and cold winters. Rainfall varies from 600mm (24 inches) annually along the coast to 2,000mm (80 inches) in mountainous areas.

Tuscany's varied terrain and climate makes it the ideal location for a variety of outdoor sports. These activities include walking and hiking, cycling, climbing and mountaineering, water sports and horse riding.

National Parks of Tuscany

Tuscany has many national, regional and local parks, nature reserves and protected areas.

  • For a full list and links see the Federazione Italiana Parchi e Riserve Naturali website: Click here

Casentinesi Forest National Park

Casentinesi Forest National Park (Parco Nazionale delle Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona, Campigna) in the Provinces of Florence and Arezzo is the largest national park in Italy. It spans 36,400 hectares, encompassing valleys and ancient forests. There is an enormous array of plant and wildlife in the park, including Apennine wolves, boar, deer, golden eagles and red foxes. Other attractions include the Sanctuary of La Verna and the Hermitage of Camaldoli. Walkers and hikers, mountain bikers and horse riders can explore the 600-kilometre network of paths. In winter, the park also attracts cross-country skiers.

The Tuscan National Archipelago Park

The Tuscan National Archipelago Park (Parco Nazionale dell'Arcipelago Toscano), in the provinces of Livorno and Grosseto, has several trails for hiking, horse riding and cycling. It is the largest marine park in Italy covering 56,766 hectares of sea and 17,887 hectares of land. The park includes the seven Tuscan islands of Elba, Giglio, Capraia, Montecristo, Pianosa, Giannutri and Gorgona.

The National Apennine Park

The National Apennine Park (Parco National dell'Appennino Tosco-Emiliano) is situated in the province of Massa-Carrara. There are numerous species of amphibian, reptile, mammal, insect, fish and bird as well as a variety of plant life in the park. Walkers, hikers, cyclists and horse riders can explore using the path network.

The Milgliarino, San Rossore and Massciuccol National Park

The Milgliarino, San Rossore and Massciuccol National Park (Parco di Migliarino, San Rossore, Massaciuccol) covers the coastal strip in the provinces of Pisa and Lucca. It has facilities for horse riding, trekking, nature walks, boat rides and bird watching.

  • Park Authority Headquarters (in Italian, English and French versions are under construction)
    At
    : Tenuta di San Rossore Loc. Cascine Vecchie, 56122 Pisa (PI)
    Tel: 050 539 111
    Fax: 050 539 217
    email

Walking and Hiking (Escursionismo)

The region of Tuscany offers many different terrains for walking and trekking. There is one small mountain range and its hilly landscape, rocky coast and forests offer many trails to explore.

  • For information on hiking activities in Tuscany: Click here (in Italian)

The Apuane Alps

Valle del Serchio, in the Alpi Apuane is a popular place for walking, hiking, mountain biking, horse riding and mountaineering. The Alpi Apuane is the only mountain range in Tuscany. There are many trails that are accessible through Valle del Serchio and Versilia.

  • For more information on walking, cycling, mountaineering and horse riding see the Apuane Alps website: Click here

The Sentieri del Marmo (marble paths) surrounding Versilia has caves and paths to explore. The paths branch out from Mount Altissimo and descend into Carrara and Versilia on either side.

  • For more information on Sentieri del Marmo: Click here

Lunigiana

Lunigiana is located in the far north of Tuscany between Liguria and Emilia Romagna. The area is covered by 250 kilometres of pathway suitable for trekking and mountain biking.

  • For more information on routes in Lunigiana: Click here

The Etruscan Coast (Costa degli Etruschi)

The Etruscan coastline extends from Livorno to Piombino. It is a popular location for enjoying outdoor sports, including trekking, cycling, horse riding and various water sports. Walkers and horse riders can choose from a variety of treks. There are also signposted routes in the hills and pinewoods for amateur cyclists. Professional cycling teams use the specially equipped facilities. Tracks extend through the woods of San Carlo and the countryside of the Bolgheri wine area.

  • For more information see the Costa degli Etruschi website: Click here

Elba Island (Isola d'Elba)

Elba Island is the natural habitat for a wide variety of flora and fauna. The area can be explored using various paths, and one hiking trail even leads to the house where Napoleon lived in exile.

  • For more information see the Isola d'Elba website: Click here (in Italian)

Climbing (Arampicata) and Mountaineering

The Apuane Alps is the only mountain range in Tuscany. The instability of its rock makes mountaineering and climbing quite difficult.

  • For a list of climbs for experienced climbers: Click here
  • For centres with natural climbing walls in the Apuane area: Click here (in Italian)

Elba Island has some mountaineering sites. Capoliveri (in Italian) is the main location for mountaineering and climbing. Both free climbing and guided mountaineering trips are available.

For more information on climbing in Tuscany contact the Tuscan section of the Italian Alpine Club (CAI).

Cycling and Mountain Biking (Ciclismo)

Road cycling in Tuscany is a popular sport and roads are frequently closed for cycling races. The variety of terrain ranges from flat to gradual slopes, as well as very steep climbs in the Chianti area. Every year the Giro del Granducato di Toscana cycling competition is held in Tuscany.

There are numerous cycling clubs and many travel companies organise bicycle tours of the region.

The Apuane Alps are suitable for mountain biking, with cycling trails from approximately 22 kilometres to 45 kilometres in length. The terrain and difficulty level of these routes varies.

  • For more information on cycling in the Apuane Alps: Click here

Garfagnano has over 300 kilometres of track and is a recognised mountain biking destination.

  • For more information see the Massa-Carrara Tourism website: Click here

Bike tours of San Rossore National Park are also available.

Horse Riding (Equitazione)

There are facilities for horse riding across Tuscany, particularly in the natural parks.

Watersports

Most of the lakes in Tuscany are protected natural areas and therefore watersports are not permitted.

Watersports such as canoeing and kayaking can be enjoyed at Lake Roffio in Pisa. There is a rowing club and annual regattas are held on the lake.

  • The Etruscan coast attracts windsurfers, kitesurfers, surfers and divers of all levels

There are many diving centres and dive sites in Tuscany, especially around the Tuscan Archipelago.

  • For a list of diving clubs in Tuscany: Click here

Further Information

Tourists can find information, brochures, guides and maps in several languages at tourist offices throughout Tuscany. The staff are able to make phone calls on behalf of visitors and answer their questions.