Experience nature, walk and breath: activities, itineraries and walking routes on Mount Pisano.
Vicopisano is the perfect holiday destination and place to stay for outdoor fun: here you can go trekking, mountain biking, horseback riding; you can venture into the woods to pick mushrooms or chestnuts, to try herbs or follow ancient paths. For fans of geology, mineralogy and paleontology, and who wants to learn more about the history of the Earth and Man, the Monte Pisano territory is a real natural outdoor science museum. More and more the destination for slow tourism, Vicopisano has plenty of places to find yourself immersed in a wild and a bit mysterious ambient, where you can fully enjoy nature.
Experiences in the Monte Pisano
The landscape of the Monte Pisano, is a succession of plains, hills and rich mountain ranges with streams and caves carved into the limestone. Dotted with small villages, medieval castles and Romanesque churches, it gives a surreal landscape that, crossing the typical Tuscan countryside, leads the eye to the sea and, on clear days, to the Tuscan Archipelago. And it is the sea breeze to draw the greenery of the Pisan side of the mountain: from the bottom of the small vineyards, the vast terraces of olive trees, concluding with the high forests of chestnut, pine and oak. This natural wealth has, as always, made the destination of inspiration for the great figures of history and literature, we remember in particular: Dante, Leonardo, Montaigne, Goldoni, Alfieri, George IV of England, Luigi Bonaparte, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley and Lord Byron.
Thanks to the mild and sunny climate, the Monte Pisano area is perfect for collecting authentic experiences en plein air, the kind you find in the grandmothers’ tales: from the harvest of blackberries in July, to the one of the myrtle and the olives between October and December , usually followed by a picnic all together.
For those with their heads in the clouds, during the day, you can arrange tours of birdwatching and paragliding; while, at nightfall, several wooded equipped residences offer strategic perspectives for the observation of stars.
For the more adventurous, the Mount reserves horse walks or donkey trekking, among ancient olive groves and leafy dirt paths immersed in the countryside. You can stand at the mills to relax and eat a slice of bread with olive oil, typical local snack.
Sport lovers do not worry: there are plenty of hiking trails and routes for MTB, for all levels of difficulty.
Paths and walking routes
Here we suggest some ideas in particular to follow some routes by foot, those that also local residents do: for the hikers, given the context, every opportunity to go to the Mount to discover a new path is good .
If you are real fans of trips on foot, and want to join them, you can visit Vicopisano and throughout the country on the occasion of two important theme events: The Festa dei Camminanti and Vicopisano Castle in fiore.
The Festa Dèi Camminanti is organized in the last weekend of March, taking advantage of the first timid spring days. Four or five days of comfortable shoes and backpacks, the Feast paths are never trivial and range throughout the Monte Pisano and over (between the provinces of Pisa, Lucca, Livorno and Florence). There are also numerous initiatives that animate the village like picnics, flea markets, street food and concerts: the ideal program for a long weekend out of town in Tuscany.
Vicopisano Castello in fiore, usually in May, is an opportunity to enjoy the historic center of Vicopisano and its castle Brunelleschi colored by flowers and plants, but also for excursions to Mount Pisano and walks in search of edible herbs.
Exploring the Mount, from any side, especially along via of Verruca, you must photograph the characteristic dry stone walls. Handed down from father to son, the construction techniques of the terraces are among the oldest, the result of the tradition of people who knew how to exploit the resources of its territory. The path of the terraces offer a full immersion in the local culture of olive growing: around here, who does not have a grove of olive trees has definitely one in the back yard, it is the tradition. The route runs along the footpaths, bridleways and roads that border and cross the Mount, touching some of the main towns: Buti, Vicopisano, Calci, Agnano and Asciano. Just climb the peckish, stop and taste the typical products of the area, including the local olive Oil: famous for its quality, thanks to favorable environmental factors that make it among the most prestigious in Tuscany.
Francigena route from the sea
The first stage of the route starts from Badia Pozzeveri, a fraction of Altopascio, which has always been a safe refuge for pilgrims along the Via Francigena, and get to Vicopisano by two variants, at your leisure: crossing the territories of Sesto Lake (6 and a half hour walk, no elevation gain) or, from above, through Buti-Sant’Andrea-San Jacopo in Lupeta-Vicopisano (8 hours and a half walk, 200 vertical meters).
The second stage focuses on along the banks of the famous Arno River: from Vicopisano in Pisa (7 hours walking, no elevation gain).
The third and final stage combines Pisa to Stagno (8 h without altitude path) where you can embark on the boat “Marco Polo” in the name of a fascinating trip along the Medici canals, to discover Livorno.
Journey into the sacred: monasteries, abbeys and Romanesque churches
The complete itinerary in the Romanesque of our territory includes several churches and parishes, spread within three fractions. Here we want to offer a reduced and less challenging version: from the Pieve di Santa Maria, the pretty Sant’Jacopo in Lupeta, ending with Sant’Andrea in Nocciola. Easy route: an hour and a half on foot and just 110 vertical meters.
Alternatively, moving on the slope of Calci, you can explore the wonderful Certosa di Calci, the hermitages of St. Anthony and St. Bernard and, finally, the Monastery and the Church of Sant’Agostino in Nicosia, just below Mount Verruca.
Walks through woods and meadows, without following a particular path: feel free to wander through the vegetation. Among the edible wild herbs you will find different types of chard, leeks, turnips and wild chicory. Delicious, but more difficult to chase: wild asparagus, seen in particular in the area Mandrie di Sotto. Among the most fragrant herbs are mint and the myrtle, from whose berries you get the eponymous liqueur. For a vitamin-rich winter dessert you can identify one of the many trees of arbutus – its fruits, red like luscious cherries reach their maximum sweetness in November-December – while, in summer, you can pick blackberries. To pack a pretty rustic bouquet look for heathers, durable and beautiful plants, featuring many different colors, from white to pale pink to light magenta. Among the flowers also we nominate the beautiful wild orchids, the sanbuco, the mimosa and the fragrant acacia. In the end, if you happen to walk through the woods of the Verruca in the winter time, you will recognize certainly hollies: typical for Christmas decorations, but be careful, the pretty red balls are toxic for humans, while the leaves can be infused for tea.
Walk routes in Vicopisano
From Noce to Verruca
From the pretty hamlet of Noce, you can reach the Verruca in about two hours (550 vertical meters). Along the way you can see the Tower Upezzinghi and the wonderful Romanesque church of Santa Giulia. It is interesting to lean, prudently, on the huge quarry above Uliveto Terme. To continue until the Verruca, you can hold the bumpy dirt track from Caprona, or ascend diagonally to the Under-Verruca, along a pleasant path through heather and strawberry trees, ending on the eastern shelf of the castle, near the ruins of the church of San Michele.
From the village of Vicopisano to Verruca
Leaving the church of Santa Maria, cross the bridge towards the imposing cypress trees of the cemetery, at the junction turn left, in the locality Ceppato, and we begin to walk the one that, not surprisingly, is called Via della Verruca. A single spectacular climb, rich in panoramic views over the village, typical Tuscan rustic stone buildings, stone walls, meadows and olive groves. Recently a tender donkey named Lapillo found a home here. Altogether, until the Verruca, are less than 5 km to go on foot, by bike or by car.
From the village of Vicopisano to Monte Castellare
From the Hill of the Cross (Via Crucis), where you find the namesake church, go right on the road that runs alongside the Fosso della Serezza and the vast fields on which dominates, unchallenged, Villa Lotti. We meet soon, on the right, a dirt road that climbs, in turns, to the Castellare. A hike of about 30 minutes separates us from a charming view.
A ring around Vicopisano
Just how Jules Verne would write: a round of Vicopisano in five hours.
From the village you reach San Jacopo and its unmissable and Romanesque church, set in the green of olive groves and cypress trees, in a typical Tuscan landscape.
From here, going back on the asphalt, climbing we reach a medieval hamlet, La Torre, through which the road becomes a dirt road and leads us to the wide ridge of Col di Cincia. Along the path CAI 148, overlooking the Arno Valley and the Era, we reach Le Mandrie di Sopra and the Spazzavento road that descends to the narrow road to the Campo dei Lupi. Take time to admire the sun reflecting on the sea to the port of Livorno. Remaining on 148, go down into the valley of the Rio Grande, walking alongside the creek, until you pass under the arch of the Molino of Papo and walk along a series of old mills, restored and converted into cottages with parks, which give the name to the valley . Another few hundred meters and the ring will be closed, returning to Pieve.
From Castellare di San Giovanni alla Vena at the Fortress of Ripafratta: a full tour of the Monte Pisano
Also interesting is this path that reserves, for the more trained legs, beautiful sights and natural perspectives. About 35 km long, with a total climb of 2,000 m, it involves at least 12 hours of walking, without considering the appropriate stops. So starting from the Castellare church (San Giovanni alla Vena), continue towards the Campo dei Lupi, here, going up a fragrant bush you will come out in the middle of the ruins of the Abbey of San Michele. Leaving the Rocca of Verruca behind us, the trail runs along the back of the mount; protagonist, to our left: the splendor of the Val Graziosa. Through forests, hills and meadows, you will reach Santallago, where you can stop and eat a hearty stuffed focaccia with Tuscan ham. Descend steeply to the Cross Field, climb the Mont Faeta Top. Touching exceptional scenic spots, such as the Tower of Crest and Dante’s Pass, you reach the pass of Crosses and start to rise again. Old chestnut woods paths, opens to us the view of the plain crossed by the Serchio: enchanting Tuscany. The last stretch of the trail reaches the Torre Niccolai and, finally, the Fortress of San Paolino. A steep path leads to the underlying Ripafratta.
For more information on guided tours and events organized by many associations and environmental guides of the area, contact the tourist office.