Research and detailed planning
Everything starts with an idea, followed by research: this includes ordering maps, guides and all available material. Once there is a basic plan, such as the route from Florence through Chianti to the sea, I begin to calculate the details of a possible route. I look at the distance, altitude and any technical difficulties to be expected. In this way, I have explored Tuscany with the click of a mouse in order to get an accurate idea of where you can (hopefully) have a nice hike.
And then it’s time to get down to business: I travel to the finish and try everything out. And really everything! On the ground I often find other ways than those marked on the map…or I can’t find any signposts and marking, as was the case in Tuscany, so flexibility is required.
Again and again I have to accept that some of the planned paths are not possible or reasonable to travel at all!
Before I make a final decision on which variant is best, I have to try it. We don’t want our guests having problems linking route numbers with their maps.
Detailed route preparation
Since I often discover ‘new territory’, I often have adventures: again and again I stand in front of fences, closed paths, private land or have to take off my shoes to wade through streams.
When our guests arrive at their accommodation locations, they expect beautiful hotels and a typical flair. Of course, that too is part of a hiking trip! The hotels are visited by me, and later by ‘team members on tour’ and tested.
In addition, I make precise directions to the hotels so that our guests can go there directly after a hike – this is particularly appreciated by our guests.
An overnight stay in a 3- or 4- start hotel is also a highlight of exploration trips for me.
Especially the tempting buffet breakfasts with a creamy cappuccino and tasty croissants make me happy again and again. In Tuscany, fans of pastries, cakes, pies and croissants are spoiled!
I roam places to check if they offer something worth seeing, eating or experiencing for our Eurohike hikers. Greve and Castellina in Chianti are enchanting: cafes and bars in the piazza and the porticos lure you in to explore and dine. In Siena I was impressed by the magnificent façade of the cathedral and the hustle and bustle of Piazza del Campo…but all the other places on the Tuscany trip are fantastic! I also try to absorb the Italian flair and perhaps catch some insider information from the locals.
The magnificent palazzi, ancient churches, castelli and city walls are truly stunning. San Gimignango is especially beautiful late at night and early in the morning. Then it is quiet and there are no crowds of tourists in the streets. I was really surprised by the relatively unknown town of Colle Val d’Elsa. It is close to tourist hotspots like Siena and San Gimignango and is at least as appealing and yet much quieter and original. With a lift you can travel through the vaults of the old town and wander through the completely preserved fortress – a real insider tip!
After the exciting exploration of a path along the old railway line from the Etruscan town of Volterra towards the sea, I finally arrived in Cecina Marina on the Tyrrhenian coast! Here, of course, first a jump into the sea, then a Gelato Artigianale (homemade ice cream).
The final hike through the Pineta of Cecina inspired me: endless pine forests directly on the beach with pleasant paths and ways on soft ground, exotic sea birds and shady rest spots. Here you are only a few steps away from the sea and can always dare to jump into the water or walk back through the sand.
There are even excellent beaches for dogs, whose ‘dives’ are just as worth seeing as the surfers’ acrobatic exercises. Here you can spend hours listening to the sound of the waves.
When the whole journey is explored extensively and all the data (GPS, photos, ideas, information material, timetables) are collected, I go back home. Rest first!
Debriefing and conclusions
Then it’s back to the office to discuss my review and the details. How should the journey be advertised in detail, in which places should we stay and which routes or levels of difficulty are included in the catalogue?
Photos are then sorted, GPS tracks edited, height profiles drawn, distances calculated and text written. So there is still a lot of work to do in the background.
Travelling is beautiful, exciting and adventurous…the journey is always a challenge, especially in such ‘exotic’ hiking regions like Tuscany.
But in the end, the effort was worth it: a wonderful new Eurohike hiking trip has been created, which will hopefully bring joy to many hikers in the future.
The Tuscany hiking tour is picturesque, and the places are stunning. If you love lovely vineyards, olive groves and oak forests, like walking on good paths through lonesome hilly areas with typical stone cottages, this is the place for you. Alpine trails and colourfully marked or overcrowded hiking trails cannot be found here. There are a few hidden treasures, such as the waterfalls of Strolla and the old salt road to Volterra. In the midst of the Tuscan hills as if from a picture book, you will experience lonely forests, pine trees and historical backgrounds from the time of the Etruscans, Romans and Middle Ages. Of course, the enjoyment of delicious Chianti wine, Espresso Italiano and specialities such as ribolita (hearty vegetable soup), game dishes and the Sienese Panforte (spice cake) is certainly not lacking.
After the hikes, stroll through the side streets of the pretty villages, sit down and watch life go by – an espresso in Bar Centrale is just part of the Italiano style!