Le Macinaie Incoming

Tour Organazier - Vacanze nella Toscana del Sud


Walking on the Volcano

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Trekking in the woods and valleys on the mountain.

This is a tour for those who really enjoy trekking. There are six walks of varying degrees of difficulty. You will stay in the same hotel for all seven nights. You can do the walks with or without a walk leader.

You will be given a carefully thought out programme and all the necessary maps. A minibus will take care of getting you to and from the hotel - never more than half an hour's ride.

A group during a break

Day 1 - Arrival

Participants will be met at the airport by a member of the company with a coach and driver.It takes about three hours to reach Amiata from the airport.If the group arrives in time for lunch we shall stop at a traditional restaurant to sample Tuscan cooking and wines. After checking in at the hotel there will be time to recover from the journey before a cocktail to welcome you. Then dinner.The chef will prepare traditional dishes from Monte Amiata and carefully selected local wines to go with them. During the week you will find home-made pasta, chestnuts, mushrooms, wild boar, salamis, blackberries, olive oil and many more things in season that the mountain offers.

Day 2

Walking on the mountain ;Prato delle Macinaie (outside the hotel) - Fonte delle Monache (The Nuns’ Spring) - Marroneto (a small hamlet) - Santa Fiora

Time taken for the walk: 5 hours

Degree of difficulty: Easy

Distance covered: 13 kilometres

We leave from the Prato delle Macinaie, 1400 metres above sea level and follow a route that takes us to Santa Fiora.Initially the walk is along the road, and past “Prato della Contessa (The Countess’ Meadow) and on to the “Fonte Delle Monache” (The Nuns’ Spring)

We walk under the beech tree canopy - whose colour, naturally, varies considerably according to the season.In spring there are many wild orchids, while towards the end of summer mushrooms and chestnuts are easy to find. In autumn the colours are spectacular.It is also interesting to see the old “ carbonaie” where charcoal was produced up until the last century.

After about 4.5 k.ms. we reach the Fonte delle Monache, one of the highest natural springs on the mountain where we will pause briefly before continuing towards Marroneto.

Once we leave the road the country is much richer, with huge volcanic boulders, views and vast chestnut woods.We lunch in Santa Fiora, in a small typical restaurant.

After lunch we wander round the village, one of the most fascinating on Monte Amiato, and end up for a glass of wine in a wine bar frequented by locals with time on their hands.

Return to the hotel to relax before a dinner based on local dishes.

Day 3

La Strada della Castagna (The Chestnut Way): Prato delle Macinaie - Arcidosso

Timetaken: 4 hours

Degree of difficulty: medium

Distance covered: 12 K.ms

Again we leave from Prato delle Macinaie, and the first place we reach is the “Madonna di Camicione”, famous for its huge volcanic boulder, and its legend:here Our Lady appeared in a vision to a humble man from the mountain who was immediately filled with religious fervour.

On the next stretch there are several different varieties of chestnut, a sign of the chestnut’s importance to the local way of life, and “seccatoi” (small stone buildings specifically designed for drying chestnuts before they are milled into flour) and later we shall discover how they are used in our cooking.There are signs of the extraction of cinnabar (the mineral from which mercury is extracted), mushroom picking, tree felling and stone working.

After the Madonna di Camicione we follow the Anello dell’Amiata (a path that rings the mountain between 850 and 1200 metres above sea level) as far as the Pozzo di Catana (Catana’s well), probably the highest on Monte Amiata, today, sadly reduced to a mere trickle.Here we shall pause briefly. Along the way there are lots of views out over to Castel del Piano, originally a medieval village, now a small town, the Orcia valley and the Maremma.

Our walk now takes us along one of the most beautiful sections of chestnuts on Amiata.You will be taken to see an old “seccatoio” (drying house). Amiata’s Chestnut Way runs through a specific area of the mountain where the cultivation of chestnuts and the human endeavour involved in it is clearly evident. This way of life on Monte Amiata is extremely rich both from an anthropological point of view and an agricultural one - and goes back to the eighth century. In Amiata’s chestnut belt a strong link is evident between an evolving natural environment and the culture that progressively shaped it.It is also important to remember that Monte Amiata is an extinct volcano: its acid soil is ideal for growing chestnuts.

Lunch under the chestnuts. In case of bad weather lunch will be at a typical restaurant in a village nearby.

After lunch, continue to Arcidosso where we will visit the castle, the old town centre and the Camarri’s oil press, one of the very few presses left in the area that still uses the huge stone millwheels for pressing the oil.

Return to the hotel for dinner.

Day 4

Animal paths

To Amiata’s WildlifePark - Monte Labbro - Merigar

Time taken; 4 hours

Degree of difficulty: average - difficult

Distance covered: 9 k.ms.

We reach the WildlifePark, about 20 to 30 minutes away from the hotel. After a brief visit to the Park to see the animal pens, we set off for the summit of Monte Labbro (1193 metres above sea level) following the “deer path” On this walk we can enjoy the impressive country, with meagre vegetation, which nevertheless provides an excellent habitat for most of the indigenous species noted in the area. We can observe numerous animals which live here (117 species of bird, 53 kinds of mammal, 13 kinds of reptile and 10 amphibians.Of these 76 species have been put on the RED LIST which lists those which are vulnerable or in danger of extinction).

Having arrived at the top of Monte Labbro, the leader will tell us the story of David Lazzaretti and show us his cave, the cross, and the panorama from the summit of Amiata to the islands of Montecristo, Elba and Giglio.We turn back following the path of the wolves. Lunch will be in the park cafe.After lunch, for the second part of the itinerary, we take the track towards Merigar, one of the most important Tibetan cultural centres in Europe, with its beautiful Gompa, its characteristic temple, and various Stupas, places for propitiatory rites.

Day 5

Along the Hot Springs Way

Piancastagnaio - Abbadia San Salvatore - The Hot Springs of Bagni San Filippo

Time taken; 3 hours

Degree of difficulty: average - Easy

Distance covered: 6 k.ms.

After reaching Piancastagnaio and visiting the historic centre of this typically medieval village, we climb to the Aldobrandeschi castle, right to the top of the main tower from where there is an exceptional view.Then following the old miners’ path we arrive at Abbadia San Salvatore, where we stop for lunch and the “Gatto e le Volpe” (The Cat and the Fox), run by Tiziano, a close friend, who will look after his guests and provide and excellent and original repast.After lunch, we visit the historic centre of the town and the monastery, founded, according to tradition, by the Lombard King, Ratchis, with its impressive crypt and its 36 supporting columns (particularly original) each with a different capital.

After a morning dedicated to art, culture, legend and history, the moment has arrived for a little relaxation in the hot springs. A bus or taxi will take us to Bagni San Filippo. First the guide will show us the natural waterfalls, the “fosso bianco” or white cascade distinguished by its limestone incrustations - and then, everybody into the pool!!The baths comprise four thermal springs, the waters of which are much recommended for the treatment of respiratory problems, for the skin and for articulation.There is also a cold spring recommended for curing liver and intestinal complaints. Their use dates back a long way, perhaps even to Roman times, even though records of the baths stretch back only tothe end of the fourteenth century. Nearby, there is a small centre which owes its name to San Filippo Benizi who may have sought refuge on Monte Amiata in 1269 to avoid being elected Pope.

Return to the hotel in the late afternoon, followed by dinner.

Day 6

Castel del Piano - La Strada del Vino (The Wine Way) - the Castle of Potentino

Time Taken: 4 hours

Degree of difficulty: average

Distance covered: 9 k.ms.

Having arrived at Castel del Piano, we look round the old part of the town.Like Siena, it is well known for its Palio. In the thirteenth century it became part of the lands controlled by the Counts Aldobrandeschi from Santa Fiora. Then in the fourteenth century it was taken over by the Republic of Siena.At this time it was granted its first statutes (1393), and in 1402 was given the right to hold an annual fair for merchandise and animals on September 9th and this was probably the first occasion when the Palio was run.

Then we shall start walking towards Seggiano through lovely chestnut woods and small allotments and then come to vineyards and olive groves. There are wonderful views all along this walk: on the right is the summit of the mountain, on the left the gentler slopes of the Val D’Orcia - and the villages of Monticello Amiata, Montelaterone, Montenero and Montegiovi will be constantly with us.

In Autumn you can sample grapes, apples and chestnuts.After about three hours one catches sight of the Castle of Potentino.Here the Greene family will be awaiting us for lunch which we shall have with fine wines from their estate, in the Devil’s Hall, or, weather permitting, under the cloister in the courtyard, with its splendid view towards the mountain. After lunch Charlotte will give us a tour of the castle, the apartments, the cellars, - and reveal the secrets!

Return to the hotel in the late afternoon. Dinner with Tuscan red wines.

Day 7

The Summit of Monte Amiata and The Daniel Spoerri Garden

Morning: Hotel le Macinaie - Cima della Montagna7 km -2hrs.30

Afternoon: Walking in Daniel Spoerri’s Garden at Seggiano

From Le Macinaie we climb to the “Vetta Amiata”, the summit of Monte Amiata.The path passes “General Cantore” on the other side of the mountain threading its way through beautiful beech woods.The last section of the walk is a little harder, but you will be rewarded by the magnificent view from the top.

On the top of Amiata there is an iron cross, much revered by the locals (22 m. high constructed in 1910).Not far off is the sculpture of the Madonna of the Scouts (She gives them peace and protection) and of Saint Gualberto.On clear days it is possible to see the lakes of Bolsena and Trasimeno, the islands of the Tuscan archipelago, the valleys of the Maremma and the hills of Chianti;and one can also see the “Colline Metallifere” (the metal-bearing hills, and those in Umbria and Lazio (the Sabine hills).A halt in a mountain refuge for a coffee, and then the route follows a path withextensive views down to the Prato delle Macinaie.We arrive at the hotel in time for lunch.Romano and Claudia will have prepared a typical Tuscan lunch from the freshest ingredients.

After lunch we visit the sculpture garden of Daniel Spoerri. This is a large park with installations and sculptures planned by this noted artist, now a Swiss citizen, but originally from Romania, who embarked on this project in 1991. Persecuted by the Nazis, Daniel Spoerri came to art through dance, mime and the theatre; he has been a poet, a writer, had lived in New York, on a Greek Island, in Dusseldorf and the outskirts of Paris and in other parts of the world.In 1990 he arrived on Monte Amiata where he created the park, which flourishes thanks to the foundation “Il Giardino di Daniel Spoerri. Hic Terninus Haeret.”Inspired by the park of monsters at Bomarzo, Daniel Spoerri’s garden extends over 15 hectares.The natural background, wide grassy spaces and thriving woodland, provides a complementary setting for the bronzes which the artist has assembled here. The sculptures appear gradually, one after another, as one walks along, and produce impressions similar to those in Renaissance and Baroque gardens.Apart form works by Spoerri himself (“The Aviary of the Sleeping Birds”, “The Devil and the Immodest Lady”, “The cockerel and the Praying Manatis” and “The Grass Sofa”) the garden includes works by Eva Dietman, Katharina Duwen, Alfonso Huppi, Bernhard Luginbuhl, Pavel Schmidt, Ester Seidel and Patrick Steiner, J.R.Soto, Jean Tinguely and Roland Topor.

Return to the hotel, followed by dinner and a dance to celebrate the course.

Day 8

Final departure: breakfast and farewell.

N.B. Departure for the airport will depend on check in times.

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