Half way between Florence and Roma lays the extinct volcano Monte Amiata, the highest Tuscan mountain at 1739 metres. Numerous springs, geysers, dense chestnut-, beech-, spruce- and oak forests, meadows, rivers and thermal springs shape this amazing landscape.
Monte Amiata nature reserve is a paradise for hikers, cyclists and mountain bikers with a network of approximately 20 main routes and many side paths that are spread over 200 kilometres of unique discovery tours.
This beautiful and diverse environment is perfect for hiking and cycling. Separate routes wind through the sparsely populated highlands between canyons and valleys and varying routes lead through labyrinth like forests, medieval sites (such as Abbadia San Salvatore, Segiano and Arcidosso) and to other mountains, fortresses, castles and spectacular small villages.
All routes are well marked and offer hiking trails of different lengths and difficulty, corresponding to everyone’s own stamina and endurance abilities. Excellent maps are available at the ATP-Bureaus in the Amiata-cities, including the “Alchiemie dell’ Amiata” in which the hiking duration of every single trail and mountain bike course is mentioned. To plan a route, the indicated tourist sights, castles, mountain cabins, thermal springs and nature parks are also of great help.
You can for example reach the almost 30 km long route “Anello dell’ Amiata” from every location in the valley. The route leads you around the circumference of the volcano cone, to an altitude of 1,000 to 1,300 metres. Touring this special route averages about 10 hours. Its difficulty level is low and along the route there are several resting places and cabins. Of course, you can choose separate parts of the route around the cone if you wish to make an individual hiking tour.
Various hiking and biking paths also lead to the summit. You can take a break on the wide grassland of Contessa and delle Macinaie, before reaching the last stop on the summit “Vetta Amiata “ where the iron cross was placed in 1910 at the volcano peak. On bright days, you get an incomparable view of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Apennines, the lakes Trasimeno and Bolsena, and of course the regions Umbria, Tuscany and Lazio.
There are many hiking trails on the Amiata which lead from the Orcia valley to Castel del Piano and Arcidosso to Rocallbegna, Semproniano and Catabbio or from Celle sul Rigo via Radicofani to Abbadia San Salvatore, Castell’ Azzara and Santa Fiora. Along these paths the hiker can, for example, test the healing power of thermal springs in Bagnore, see the astonishing Castell’ d’Azzara, the sculpture park in Seggiano or visit the Buddhist monastery Dzog Chen, the most important centre of religion for Tibetan monks in Europe.
For hiking and cycling tourists another superb advantage is that the Monte Amiata covers 13 nature reserves, including Monte Labbro, Pescinello, the forest of Rocconi and the great chestnut forest Castel del Piano. Regional animals, like porcupines, fallow deer, muffling, foxes, buzzards, falcons, beech martens and short-toed eagles inhabit the park Faustico del Monte Amiata in the village Arcidesso and can be spotted from numerous hiking paths, while observing wonderful mountain panoramas.
Besides the already discussed maps of the ATP-Bureaus, very detailed area maps are also on sale at specific book stores. Mountain bike rentals are available in many locations and many hotels offer the same service. In winter, skiing equipment is also available to rent.