One of Toscana's most popular mountains is obviously the highest one, Monte Prado, which is located on the main ridge of the Appennino Tosco-Emiliano and thus on the border between Toscana (Tuscany) and Emilia Romagna. To reach it by the regular route one passes by two more mountains, Monte Cella and Monte Vecchio, both almost 2000ers, which are located in a panoramic bend of the Appennine main ridge. Here the crest suddenly turns westward for a few km before returning to the general south-westerly direction, in which it runs along all the Italian peninsula.
Of the two mountains, Monte Vecchio is the more important, not only because of its taller size but also thanks to the proximity of Passo Vecchio, an old traverse saddle which separates it from Monte Prado. The saddle has been used to cross the Appennino in this area for ages, especially when nearby Passo delle Radici (a road pass today) was closed or not feasible. But mainly it was used by shepherds and goatherders to drive their flock to the pastures on the (respective) other side.
Today remnants of this transmigration path can still be found and a hiking trail leads across it from the village of Corfino on the Tuscany side to Civago in Emilia Romagna. The Tuscany half of it is often used as a route to climb Monte Prado, a longish tour, which scales about 1300m in elevation. Monte Vecchio is often ignored on that tour though the earliest signposts on this marked trail point to it rather than Monte Prado.
The shorter of the two Monte Prado routes also passes by Monte Vecchio, though only by a few hundred metres. Thus any peakbagger will rather follow the east and north ridges of the mountain to reach the higher summit of Monte Prado. Monte Vecchio has three ridges, east, west and north. The west rige runs all the way down to Pania di Corfino, an impressive limestone mountain, towering above the Garfagnana region. East and north ridge connect it with the Appennino main ridge, of which it is the most exposed (or solitary) lookout. Viwes range wide, to both the Tyrrhenean and Adriatic seas in the far distance, but also to the Alpi Apuane in the west or the other subgroups of the Appennino all around.
The best trailhead is at the small ski area of Casone di Profecchia a bit to the south-west of Passo delle Radici. It can be reached as follows:
- From Firenze and Pisa
- Take motorway A11 to Lucca.
- Switch to SS12 in direction Abetone
- At Borgo a Mozzano switch to SP2 direction Castelnuovo di Garfagnana
- Switch to SS324 direction Passo delle Radici.
- From Bologna
- Take motorway A1 direction Modena
- At the southern exit of Modena turn onto SS12 south direction Abetone.
- At Pievepelago switch to SS324 across Passo delle Radici
Being a border mountain between Toscana and Emilia Romagna, Monte Vecchio is part of the Parco Nazionale dell'Appennino Tosco-Emiliano. The usual restrictions for such parks apply. Visit the park's site for more information.
AccommodationThe closest town to Passo delle Radici is Castelnuovo di Garfagnana on the Toscana side of the pass. The big cities - Modena and Bologna as well as Firenze and Lucca are about an hour away from the pass so staying there is a definite possibility.
If you want to stay closer you can make use of Agriturismo, holiday farms, which offer rooms, apartments and food. Good places are somewhat hard to find if you don't speak Italian. The site of the Parco Nazionale dell'Appennino Tosco-Emiliano
has a listing here:
Lodging in Parco Nazionale dell'Appennino Tosco-Emiliano
Maps & BooksLet me know if you know more books or better maps. This is the set I used.
I have not been able to find detailed maps of this area so the following one is a road map, scaled 1:150000
- Tuscanny - Florence
Freytag & Berndt
- Tuscany North / Toskana Nord
Wolfgang Heitzmann / Renate Gabriel (translation: Gill Round)
ISBN: 978-3-7633-4812-1 (English)
ISBN: 978-3-7633-4115-3 (German)