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Parma, Tuscany and the Cinque Terre

Prosciutto and Parmesan, Pilgrims and Poets

Walk the area immortalised by Lord Byron and the Romantic poets. Visit beautiful Parma, the undisputed gourmet capital of Emilia Romagna and experience the Sagra del Fungo Porcino (Porcini Mushroom fair) at the "Slow Food" town of Borgotaro. Walk one of the most beautiful sections of the Via Francigena pilgrim route and discover an untouched area of Tuscany before descending to the Gulf of Poets on the Ligurian coast to explore the quaint villages of the Cinque Terre. Opportunity to hike part of the Cinque Terre coastal path or travel the coast by boat.    

This tour starts in Parma and finishes in Pisa.  Parma is a wonderful city and we would always recommend a day or two to explore before the start of the tour.  Many people choose to extend their walking holiday in Italy by visiting Florence, Siena, Bologna, Rome or the Cinque Terre.   Full more ideas on where to go see our City Guide page.   For a brief outline of the history of Parma, see the Blog. See more photos of this tour.

 

“Jackie is a wonderful guide, and her organisational skills, attention to detail, knowledge, professionalism and friendliness made it the best organised holiday we have ever been on. We can't recommend Hedonistic Hiking highly enough." D.B, Sydney. September 2008

Cost:
€2445
Single supplement:
€175

Our tours are genuinely all-inclusive - learn more about what we offer. 

What's Included?
  • 7 nights beautiful accommodation (3 different hotels)
  • Two experienced and knowledgeable guides who will look after your every need and bring this stunning area to life
  • All meals including wine.
  • Gourmet picnic lunches each day and snacks en route
  • Dinner in a variety of superb restaurants.
  • Support vehicle, enabling you to walk as little or as much of the trail as you please
  • Transport to/from Parma (start) and Pisa (end) in air-conditioned minibus
  • Comprehensive pre-trip information.
  • Luggage transported for you so all you need to carry is a small backpack with water etc.
  • Museum visits and tastings as per itinerary
Tour Dates
11th - 18th September 2015
Itinerary

The tour starts in Parma (on the main train line between Rome, Florence and Milan) and ends in Pisa from where there are flights to many destinations within Europe. Parma also has a small airport (served by Ryanair and national carriers).

Day 1
Meet at Parma train station at 1pm. Start the tour with a tasty lunch at a popular trattoria. Enjoy a menu which showcases the famous cuisine of Parma. After lunch we visit the cathedral and its fabulous marble baptistery. We continue south to Borgo Casale, our luxury hotel nestled in the Romagnola hills, encircled by the peaks of the Apennines. Time to settle in before dinner in the hotel restaurant.

Day 2

Today we learn how parmesan cheese is made when we visit a local producer. We then drive high into the hills, on the border with Liguria and Emilia Romagna, for a fabulous ridge walk. (5.4km/3.4miles). Time to relax in the afternoon before we visit the town of Borgotaro, awarded the accolade Citta Slow (Slow Food town), to experience the Porcini Mushroom Fair before dinner at a delightful organic farm.  Our recent Blog has more about the funghi!

Day 3
From the Passo della Cisa (1041m) we follow the Via Francigena through beech and chestnut woods, over ancient stone bridges and through charming villages before descending to Pontremoli. We stay in a beautiful agriturismo (with pool) converted from a 16th century hamlet, which overlooks the town. We use this as our base for 3 days whilst exploring the Lunigiana, an untouched part of Tuscany nestled between the Appenines and the Mediterranean. (20.5km/13miles)

Day 4
Today a more leisurely hike takes us into the hills above our agriturismo to a remote hamlet suspended in time with lovely views over the Magra valley. Relaxing afternoon with the opportunity to explore Pontremoli. The town lies in a strategic position on the river Magra and it was an important stopping place on the Via Francigena. The 14th century castle houses a fascinating museum of menhirs found in the Lunigiana. (7.9km/5miles)

Day 5

Starting above Pontremoli we climb up through beautiful open woods and wild moorland, passing an evocative hamlet, to reach a high pass (1363m) with spectacular mountain views on the border of Emilia Romagna. In the afternoon, a leisurely descent through beech woods crossing clear mountain streams to reach a characteristic village. (18km/11.3miles)

Day 6
Enjoy sweeping coastal views as we walk to Fosdinovo where we visit the imposing castle of the Malaspina family. After visiting a small wine producer in the village we descend through vineyards and olive groves, past rustic farms, to the fortified town of Sarzana. Continue to the pretty coastal town of Lerici, once home to Lord Byron, where we stay for two nights in a stunning new hotel with breathtaking sea views. (14.9km/9.4miles)  For more on Lerici see our recent Blog.

Day7
Free day with a boat cruise across the Gulf of Poets to Portovenere and the opportunity to walk some of the stunning coastal paths of the Cinque Terre.  Swim or explore the lovely town of Portovenere and the small island of Palmaria.

Day 8

Return to Pisa Airport for 10.30am.

Extend your trip
The Cinque Terre is one of the best areas in Italy for independent walking. The well-trodden paths are clearly marked and the villages are linked by train and boat. We will provide you with a trail map and suggestions for walking. Contact us for more information.

Extra Info

Walking
Shortest day: 5.4km/3.4miles
Longest day: 20.5km/13miles

There are 5 days of walking on the trip and 1 free day. We walk on paved pilgrim trails – specifically on day 3 (which can become slippery after rain) -, farm and woodland tracks and quiet tarmac roads. The region is in the foothills of the Apennines and therefore hilly, but not mountainous. There is always the opportunity to walk a half-day with van support for those who prefer not to hike the full day. There are some stony descents so sturdy walking boots, with good ankle support, are highly recommended. Walking poles would be an great advantage, especially on steeper sections. To see how we grade the walking we have a simple comparison of all our tours taking into account ascents/descents, distances and terrain.

Reading
We have compiled a Reading List for ideas for books to enjoy on your walking tour.

Walking Gear
For helpful hints on what to wear, visit our Kit List page.

Buying Wine
We are often asked where guests can buy back home the wines tasted on the tours.  Our wine page has a few helpful pointers.

Weather

Average daily temperature: 13° - 25°
Monthly rainfall average: 50mm
Hours of sunshine: 6½ hours per day

Today's weather in Parma

Today's weather in La Spezia at the coast