December 6, 2009, 11:08 PM
hiking in tuscany in February
I am planning a surprise trip to Tuscany for my husbands 40th birthday in February for three nights only. We are both like hiking (as well as good food and wine!!) and are fairly fit but have never done any guided tours. Ideally I was hoping to find a rural hotel, not too expensive, where we could stay for 3 nights and go on some good walks perhaps with a guide or just map and advice from the hotel. Is this possible at this time of year?
December 9, 2009, 12:01 PM
highly recommend the Maremma area for hikes in February
A surprise trip, even if short, sounds like a wonderful gift for your husband's birthday!
You won't have any problems with good food and wine anywhere in Tuscany. We also love to hike and can tell you that February is a good time to hike as long as you stay away from the mountains. It is winter so while you won't see everything in its glory, the landscapes in Tuscany are beautiful year round. Different colors and different vegetation.
Just stay at sea level - temperatures rarely drop below freezing along the coast and some days it can get as warm as 15 °C although 8-12 °C is more the norm.
For this reason, I recommend the Maremma area as a particularly good area for you to stay in. It is perfect for hikes year round, but so is most of the coastal area as well as the islands. Elba would be perfect for hiking although many hotels completely close down in the low season since there are obviously no beach goers. But if you'd like to go to Elba, a little search might reveal a few that are open year round.
I recently bought this really good book called 50 hikes in & around Tuscany by Jeff Taylor. While I don't consider it complete because it hardly has any hikes in areas we love to hike in - around Florence, in Mugello and in the Casentino valley - there are several hikes in Maremma and along the coast listed. You can find an index of the hikes included as well as a map with the details of the hikes on the book's website: http://www.50hikesintuscany.com/
The Maremma and Elba island are in the area labeled as "Tuscan Coast South" in the map.
In the Maremma, farmhouses with b&b accommodation are the most common type of lodging available. I recommend the Valentina Nuova farmhouse (the Gughi apartment is just 50 euro per night) which is conveniently located right at the edge of the Natural Park of the Maremma. We love the park for hiking, it gives you beautiful views of the sea as well as various woods, remains of several lookout towers and unspoiled wilderness that protects an abundance of wildlife (hikes 3-5 in the book are inside the park).
Do let me know if you would like more details about specific hikes. If you don't want to buy the book, the site has the basic info on itineraries and once you get into the area you can get local maps. For example, the visitors center for the park in Maremma offers maps for the park and you can get more info online here: http://www.parco-maremma.it/
If you want more details for any of the hikes, let me know and I'll do what I can to help!
December 11, 2009, 12:12 AM
wow thanks so much - there is much more help and info than I was expecting - i will start researching now but Maremma sounds perfect
December 11, 2009, 12:00 PM
You're very welcome - your question was also about something we love to do so it was a pleasure to help by sharing and providing some ideas .
I was assuming you're arriving into Pisa airport and were planning in any case to rent a car - so Maremma is also easy to get to. Just drive south from Pisa along the coast on the A12 and then continue on the "Aurelia" road.
If you have any other questions as you research let us know - and have fun planning the trip!