A fairly long but simple stage with no large differences in height.
We cross the beautiful Acquerino Cantagallo Nature Reserve and then descend to the town of Montepiano. Very pleasant and enjoyable, without being spectacular.
We proceed on the asphalted road to Passo di Acquiputoli, from which we take the 00 path, which goes up (approximately 100 m height difference) towards Culipiana, entering the Acquerino Cantagallo Nature Reserve. We go around the knoll of Monte Bucciana crosswise, from the east: we gain the ridge and continue northwards, passing the Passo del Treppio and, shortly after, the Rifugio Luigi Pacini (1,001 m), where we also find a fountain.
We continue going around Poggio Cicialbo from the west and we find again the crest of the Le Fosse pass. From here, in ups and downs, we pass in rapid succession several hills (delle Piastre, Cattarelle, la Zucca, della Croce). We go down slightly towards Sambuco, a pass crossed by a paved road, and we face the climb (approx. 200 m height difference) to Monte delle Scalette (1,186 m), whose top is unfortunately closed in the pine forest. It is worth it to reach Croce di Geppe, from where we admire the wooded ridges that constitute the Regional Park of the Suviana and Brasimone Lakes, and to the north-east we see the beautiful Brasimone Lake. To the west, the unique shapes of Cimone, Libro Aperto, Corno alle Scale, Cupolino, and Monte Gennaio stand out. The most tired ones can break the stage by stopping at the Eremo del Viandante, a spartan bivouac not far away.
Back at Monte delle Scalette, we continue on an easy and panoramic ridge on the 00 path until we reach the southern shoulder of Monte della Scoperta, then we begin to descend (approx. 450 m drop) towards the Setta Valley. After crossing the asphalted road, we leave the 00 path and take the one on the left, which after a couple of kilometers passes on an asphalted road and leads us to the town of Montepiano (700 m).
The Acquerino Cantagallo Nature Reserve preserves natural environments of great beauty: beech, chestnut, and mixed deciduous woods, where monumental trees stand out.
The largest was the "Faggione" (big beech) of Luogomano, a plant of about 300 years whose foliage, on the ground, covered an area of 600 square meters!
Other beech trees had been planted around the old patriarch to defend him from the wind (which in these areas can blow very strongly). Unfortunately in 2013, following an intense snowfall, the weight of its own long branches caused the collapse of half of the Faggione (which was formed by 2 trunks). The half that remained intact continues to receive the tribute of numerous visits by wayfarers.
Many wild animals live in the natural oasis, from wild boar to porcupine, from roe deer to nuthatch, from fox to cuckoo, from deer to buzzard ...
South of Montepiano, about 15 minutes by car, is the small village of Vernio.
For those who have time, it is worth visiting the Mumat - Textile Machinery Museum, which preserves the ancient machinery that made the history of the textile district of Prato, thanks to the typical recycling of rags: from the ancient turbine powered by the water of the Bisenzio River (still active) to the very rare example of a wooden frame. A true and excellent example of industrial archeology.
For more info, timetables and tickets, follow the LINK.
In the municipality of Vernio is held every year the Festa della Pulenda (or "Festa della Miseria"), in memory of the generosity of the Bardi Counts, the local lords who in 1512, before the terrible famine that afflicted the local population (caused by Spanish invasion in the war with the Republic of Florence), distributed chestnut flour, stockfish, cod, and herring to the people.
During the festival, sweet chestnut polenta is prepared, together with necci, pancakes, and chestnuts, all poor foods strictly based on chestnut flour.
Eremo del Viandante, just below the Monte delle Scalette (north-west): very basic, just table and benches
Posto Tappa GEA, in Montepiano. Tel. +39 339 183 1692
Starting point reachable by car.
Departure point NOT reachable by bus.
The nearest town reachable by bus is Acquerino, 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.