Updated: Feb 7
Pania della Croce and Monte Forato are two popular hiking destinations in the Apuan Alps in Italy. The hike to Pania della Croce is a challenging trail that takes you through beautiful landscapes and offers stunning views from the summit.
The trail begins in the village of Fornovolasco and takes you through beautiful landscapes, including forests, rolling hills, and meadows, before reaching the summit of Pania della Croce. From there, the trail continues to Monte Forato, which is a natural arch that provides breathtaking views of the surrounding scenery.
The total hike can take several hours and involves steep ascents and descents, so it is important to be in good physical shape and to come prepared with adequate food, water, and gear.
Time: 8h28m moving time (Tracking stopped 1h before completion)
Elevation gain: 1,897m up and 1,897m down
Best time: May and June / September and August
Type: Single day, Loop
Best time of the year to hike
The best time of year to hike in the Apuan Alps and visit Pania della Croce and Monte Forato depends on personal preference and the conditions you prefer for hiking. Generally, the summer months of June, July, and August offer the warmest and driest weather, making it ideal for those who prefer mild temperatures and little rain. However, this is also the busiest time of year and the trails can become crowded.
The spring and fall months of April, May, September, and October offer mild temperatures and fewer crowds, but there may be more chance of rain and inclement weather. Winter months can also be beautiful, with clear skies and snow-covered landscapes, but the trail can be challenging due to snow and ice, and temperatures can be very cold.
It's recommended to check weather conditions before embarking on the hike and to be prepared for weather changes, no matter what time of year you go.
The duration of the hike from Fornovolasco to Monte Forato, Pania della Croce and back in the Apuan Alps can vary depending on several factors, including your hiking speed, level of fitness, and trail conditions. On average, the hike can take anywhere from 6 to 9 hours, a round trip.
It's important to keep in mind that this is a challenging hike that involves steep ascents and descents, and the trail can be uneven and rocky in places. Therefore, it's important to plan for a full day of hiking and to pace yourself accordingly. Additionally, it's always a good idea to carry enough food, water, and supplies to last the entire day, as well as a map, compass, and other essentials for safety and navigation.
Starting Location and how to get there
See below how to get to Fornovolasco, where the hike starts from:
By Car: Fornovolasco is located in the Tuscany region of Italy, and the easiest way to get there by car is to take the highway and then follow the signs to Fornovolasco. You can also use a GPS or online mapping service to plan your route.
By Bus: There is no direct bus service to Fornovolasco, but you can take a bus to nearby towns such as Lucca or Barga and then take a taxi or local bus to Fornovolasco.
By Train: The nearest train station to Fornovolasco is Lucca, which is connected to the national railway network. From Lucca, you can take a taxi or a local bus to Fornovolasco.
By Air: The nearest airport to Fornovolasco is Pisa International Airport (PSA), which is located about an hour's drive away. From the airport, you can rent a car or take a taxi to Fornovolasco. Alternatively, you can also fly to Florence International Airport (FLR), which is approximately two hours away by car.
I arrived the same day driving from a village close to Florence where I'm originally from.
Here is a possible itinerary from Fornovolasco to Monte Forato and Pania della Croce, using the CAI (Italian Alpine Club) trails:
From Fornovolasco, take the CAI trail number 12 and follow it to the summit of Monte Forato. This trail takes you through beautiful forests and rolling hills but is steep and challenging, but it offers stunning views of the surrounding scenery. The hike to the summit should take about 2 hours.
After visiting Monte Forato, continue on the CAI trail number 131 along the ridge of the mountains (on their right-hand side) and follow it to the summit of Pania della Croce on the CAI trail number 7. This trail is also very steep and challenging, but it offers panoramic views from the summit. The hike to the summit should take about 3 hours.
After visiting Pania della Croce, retrace your steps back to Fornovolasco along the CAI trail number 130. This trail should take about 3 hours.
It's important to keep in mind that the hike can take longer or shorter depending on your pace and trail conditions, so it's always a good idea to carry enough food, water, and supplies for a full day of hiking. Additionally, it's always best to check the weather conditions before embarking on the hike and to be prepared for weather changes, as well as to carry a map and compass for safety and navigation.
Cost and trip type
The cost of the hike from Fornovolasco to Monte Forato and Pania della Croce in the Apuan Alps can vary depending on several factors, such as transportation, food, and any necessary equipment. Here are some of the estimated costs:
Transportation: If you have your car, the cost of driving to Fornovolasco and parking there will likely be the most significant transportation expense. If you don't have a car, the cost of taking a taxi or public transportation to Fornovolasco and then to nearby towns like Lucca or Barga will add to the price.
Equipment: If you don't have your hiking gear, such as a backpack, water bottles, sturdy hiking shoes, and clothing appropriate for the weather, you may need to rent or purchase these items.
Food and drink: You will need to bring enough food and water to last you for the entire hike, as well as any snacks or energy bars you may want to bring along.
Estimating all the costs, the hike can cost anywhere from 30 to 50 euros or more, depending on your individual needs and preferences. It's always a good idea to plan and budget for these expenses to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience.
Hiking is one of the best ways to discover the beauty of the natural world around you.
The simple trick to staying warm during any season is to layer your clothes.
Below I listed the range of hiking clothing designed specifically to make sure I'm comfortable and protected against the elements when exploring the outdoors.
Pants (Jeans) / Shorts + Over-trousers: What pants to wear hiking depends on the climate as well as what fabric best fits your needs. I usually hike with JEANS or SHORTS depending on the season and temperature. the jeans are always a safe option; since they are not waterproof, for multiday hikes I usually take with me the WATERPROOF OVER-TROUSERS.
Merino wool t-shirt and/or Flannel shirt: Always bring a long/short-sleeved MERINO WOOL T-SHIRT or a FLANNEL SHIRT shirt to keep you comfortably warm. These are always my first layers depending on how hot/cold it is.
Fleece and/or Insulated jacket (down): Over the Merino wool t-shirt / Flannel shirt I would always wear either a FLEECE, a long-sleeved LIGHT DOWN, or both depending on the weather. Ideally, the insulating jacket should be lightweight and fit in your pockets.
Waterproof & Windproof layer: Insulation won’t work if your jackets get wet, especially if it’s down material. I always bring with me a light, packable, highly versatile GORE-TEX PRO shell jacket. I use this jacket for multiple activities such as skiing, hiking, walking, mountaineering, etc. It is very important to have a helmet-compatible hood.
Hiking shoes and Socks: Good HIKING SHOES and MERINO WOOL SOCKS are key for a comfortable hike.
Hat / Cap, Neck warmer and Gloves: Depending on the season I usually take with me either a CHASMERE HAT or a CAP to protect myself from the cold or sun respectively. Go for moisture-wicking GLOVES in wet or cold weather. When it comes to neck protection, a WINDPROOF NECK WARMER can be lifesaving.
Camera, Travel and Backpacking gear
I'm a keen photographer and I love taking pictures of nature and landscapes. Below I listed what I usually carry with me on holiday. If you are interested to check my full camera gear, including all my accessories, this is my Kit: https://kit.com/pieroromoli/camera-gear
Nikon D700 (https://www.nikon.com/)
GoPro Hero 6 and 9 Black (https://gopro.com/)
DJI Mavic Air (https://www.dji.com/pt)
Nikkor 16-34mm f4 and 50mm f1.8 (http://www.nikkor.com/)
Tamron 70-300mm f4-5.6 (https://www.tamron.eu/)
iPhone 8 and iPhone SE (https://www.apple.com/)
Benro Carbon Fibre Tripod (http://www.benro.com/)
Manfrotto PIXI Evo 2 (https://www.manfrotto.co.uk/)
Joby Gorillapod 3k stand + Gorillapod Ballhead X BHX (https://joby.com/)
Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW II (https://www.lowepro.com/global/)
Hoya Filters (https://hoyafilter.com/)
I hope you enjoyed this blog.