Go Snowshoeing and Winter Walking in Tuscany

Areas like South Tyrol, Italy’s most northerly region is one of Italy’s key attractions in the winter months as sky professionals and enthusiasts come in their thousands to enjoy the white stuff.  But, have you ever consider Tuscany as a winter destination for snowshoeing and winter walking? The same lovely long walks you have in the summer months you have them here in the winter months as well; with one major difference, it is much quieter.

In the winter months the deserted medieval villages of Campaiana, Castiglione di Garfagnana and Villetta San Romano, in northwestern Tuscany offers serene mountain views, healthy walks and hearty meals the discerning traveller.

The cluster of stone houses appeared through the leafless beech trees, wooden shutters are bolted shut and the terracotta rooftops are almost hidden by thick layer of snow.  This is the scene of the tiny sheperd’s village of Campaiana, high on the slopes of Pania di Corfino, as all the tourists are gone waiting for the summer months. Like many other Tuscan villages only comes alive in the warm summer months but almost deserted in the winter.

The winter in these areas offer their own winter’s charm with, the snowy walking trails, the breath taking mountain views, rich red wines and roasting chestnuts.

A six-mile trek from Campaiana to Pania di Corfino takes you through the rugged Apennine Mountains pass Fonte dell’Amore (meaning Fountain of Love to the locals). This time of year it offers a different beauty, than the summer months when canoodling couples come here to sip the water in the hope that they will have eternal love.

At the top of Pania di Corfino stood a large wooden cross watching over the fertile Garfagnana valley, some 1,600m below, a patchwork of fields dotted with tiny medieval villages.

Once, this area was one of the most important and fought-over valleys in the region for its easy passages across the mountains, its towns were regularly under attack by feuding armies. It is not just Garfagnana’s location that that has won it so many admirers.  Michaelangelo used marble from the Alpi Apuane and was particularly taken with Monte Altissimo.

The walk along the lower plains takes you through hushed woodland, where the spindly branches are studded with clumps of show.  Among the bright purple crocuses along the mossy trail were porcupine quills, introduced by the Romans as a source of food about 2,000 years ago. In the fortified town of Castiglione di Garfagnana, built by the Republic of Lucca in the 14th century you can mingle with the locals and chestnut flavoured beer at Marcalli e Piagentini or enjoy a strong coffee.

Accommodations here offer their own rustic charm from family homes, hotels to modernised farmhouses some goes back as far as the 15th century. Prices varies also, you can get five-star to budget accommodations.  Many are along walking routes that takes you to family-run wineries and ancient Roman villages.