Late Autumn 2021 we returned to Italy again - this time to Tuscany including its beautiful island Elba where we found many superb hiking opportunities, pleasant temperatures up to 20°C and a lot of sunshine for this season.
Again Marion's sister Jutta and her husband Hermann joined. When we drove through the Alps we had very nice weather which we used for two longer hikes. The first one was around was in Klausen (South Tyrol) around its huge monastery.
The second one was south of Trent on the steep slopes on the western side of the valley of the river Adige - Wonderful Sentiero delle Stel leads with some iron ropes through these slopes and it was Hermann's first via ferrata.
We continued in a rush via Mantua through the Po Valley and over the Apennines because it was raining a lot. It stopped exactly when we arrived in the bigger city Prato which is located few kilometers northwest of Florence.
We spent two days in marvelous Florence. It was raining cats and dogs on the second day but we were protected in the Uffici Gallery, one of the most famous art museums on earth. It shows mainly sculptures from the Roman Empire and many paintings from the 15th / 16th / 17th centuries. Some pictures have an erotic touch and some are barbarous. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic access to the Uffici Gallery was strictly limited and we could enjoy its artifacts with a bunch of people.
More pictures of the Uffici Gallery are in the picture section of Tuscany. After so much culture we continued to rural life: Firstly to the stunning little town San Gimignano which is called Manhatten of the middle age. Secondly to the wonderful protected area Riserva Naturale di Castelvecchio, where we hiked a full day in the Mediterranean forest, over hills, and along farms, vineyards, old and not so old ruins.
On the way to the coast we stopped in the walled mountaintop town Volterra. Its impressive Medici Fortress is used as a prison today, and it is rated of 4.5 stars from Google users!
Before we took the ferry from Piombino to Elba we spent some nice and sunny days on the coast, swimming in the Mediterranean Sea (water temperature still 19°C), hiking and biking on the peninsula north of Piombino, and visiting some interesting old sites like Populonia and historic quarter of Piombino.
Elba is a dream within a dream with marvelous beaches with crystal clear water, pretty villages, endless superb hiking opportunities and a lot of history, for instance the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was imprisoned for 10 months in the years 1814/15. We stayed exactly two weeks on this wonderful island, which is with 224 square kilometers the third largest island of Italy.
Our top highlight was the hike to Monte Capanne, which is with 1019 meters sea-level the tallest summit of Elba. On a perfect day we started our ascent in the little village Poggio and hiked to the northwest ridge of the secondary peak Le Calanche. There was some hard snow on the last part. The conditions became unpleasantly on the ridge due to icy rocks. Jutta and Hermann returned. We were happy that we had a short rope in our backpack, and also about some fixed iron ropes. The ridge turns to southwest on Le Calanche - a wonderful climb to the top in the sun.
The summit of Monte Capanne is one the ugliest mountains we ever had visited - full of transmitters, fences and other stuff. But the outlook was extraordinary beautiful. The first part of the descent on the northeast slope was icy again - we missed our crampons.
The weather changed when we came back to Piombino. Consequently we drove back to Munich in a rush. We stopped for walks in Pisa - famous for its leaning tower and Galileo Galilei, and in Sabbionetta in the Po Valley. There was already a lot of snow in higher levels when we crossed the Apennines and the Alps on December 9th / 10th 2021.
Most of our hikes, bike rides and overnight staying places are in our GPS coordinates file of Italy.