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).
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.
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!
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)
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)
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)
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.
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.
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.