A long and demanding stage, marked by the descent to the Passo dell’Abetone and the long climb to the top of the Libro Aperto (1,937 m), however of great beauty.
The usual open landscapes offered by the Apennine ridge (we pass near the Cimone, the highest peak in the whole of Tuscany-Emilian) are joined by the uniqueness of Scaffaiolo Lake, a true wonder of the Apennines.
The stage, although not presenting technical difficulties, is long and mostly on the crest. To be avoided in unstable weather conditions.
It is possible to break the stage at Abetone, where there are several hotels and holiday farms.
The only water point is in Boscolungo dell'Abetone.
We follow the route of the Grande Escursione Appenninica, which immediately enters the beech forest and descends easily (approximately 350 m drop) along the Vallone del Sestaione, halfway up the coast, towards Abetone. Once in Boscolungo, we can choose to stop at Abetone (1 km away) and take a half-day of rest by taking advantage of the various accommodation facilities in the town.
If instead, we choose to continue, we prepare for the long climb (approximately 550 m height difference). We follow the path which, in the shade of red and white fir trees, goes up on a comfortable carriage road to the Foce delle Verginette (1,501 m), just east of Monte Maiore, where we leave the woods and the view opens again. Then, after passing the small Rifugio Casetta di Lapo, we face the ramp that leads us to the Libro Aperto (“Open Book”), a mountain so called for its characteristic shape, which can be observed from the Tuscan side. The path takes us to the pass located between the two peaks of the "book" (Monte Belvedere and Monte Rotondo) and we reach the highest peak (1,937 m). In front of us, to the north, stands Monte Cimone ( 2,165 m), the highest peak in the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, surmounted by the antennas of the meteorological observatory. To the west, we glimpse the Corno alle Scale.
Among expanses of blueberries, we continue on the ridge on the 00 path, losing altitude to Monte Lancino (1,709 m). We go up to Cima Tauffi (1,799 m), then go down again and walk up and down to the Passo di Croce Arcana (1,669 m), immediately after which we find the Rifugio Manzani. We go around the summit of Monte Spigolino from the south and on a gentle descent, we arrive at the pleasant basin of Scaffaiolo Lake (1,775 m). Just above, the Rifugio Duca degli Abruzzi rises, the oldest in the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines.
The Passo dell’Abetone is a pass used since ancient times. It is believed to own its name to a huge fir, cut down for the construction of the road, that was so big that six men were not enough to embrace it.
The great composer Giacomo Puccini stayed nearby (to be precise in the Boscolungo hamlet) for a summer, at the beginning of the 20th century: these pleasant and silent places favored the composition of the famous opera Madame Butterfly.
The Scaffaiolo Lake, which is not of glacial origin like the other lakes of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, has some unusual aspects: it has almost no lake vegetation, it does not host fish and its water, despite the lack of evident emissaries, it does not evaporate, even in the height of summer.
Popular beliefs have fueled bizarre legends that the lake is connected to the sea via an underground tunnel. Academic studies have instead motivated the particular phenomenon with the impermeability of the soil and the almost lack of surrounding vegetation: the lake, therefore, preserves water from the rains and melting snow, while the rigid average temperatures and dense fogs explain the lack of evaporation.
Due to its peculiarity, the lake attracted the attention of the famous 14th-century poet Giovanni Boccaccio, who said that throwing a stone into the lake caused terrible storms.
From Passo dell’Abetone you can descend, following the state road, to the village of Cutigliano: a small jewel, a town already mentioned in documents from the 11th century.
In the historic center, it is possible to admire the Palazzo dei Capitani della Montagna, built in 1377 to host the officer sent from Florence. On the facade of the building, you can admire the heraldic insignia of the captains who have followed one another: there are 95 of them.
Typical of the area is the white potato of Melo (a locality above Cutigliano). It is grown on land over 1,000 meters above sea level, without any chemical treatment.
Rich in starch and phosphorus, it is characterized by a delicate taste and a floury consistency.
The gnocchi with a spoon are prepared here (so-called because they are made by dropping pieces of dough directly into boiling water) and seasoned with cheese sauce.
At Abetone there are several accommodation facilities (hotels and B & Bs).
Rifugio Duca degli Abruzzi, near Scaffaiolo Lake. Tel. +39 0534 53390
Starting point NOT reachable by car.
The nearest place reachable by car is the Val di Luce car park.
Departure point NOT reachable by bus.
The nearest town reachable by bus is Abetone, starting from the city of Pistoia.
Here the LINK to check the timetables.
Starting point NOT reachable by train.
Va' Sentiero is a grassroot project, thanks to the spontaneous contribution oft housands of people.
Even the most complicated dream, a 7,000km uphill dream,
can be achieved... together.