Encouraged by exceptionally nice weather for a bank holiday weekend we decided to cross over the Apennines to Garfargnana in Tuscany via the Passo di Pradarena (1579m). Following in the footsetps of medieval pilgrims travelling from Canterbury to Rome.Here we got our first glimpse of the marble Apuan Alps, separating the Apennines from The Med. before making our way down the River Serchio. The hills are completly forested with beech, conifers and chestnuts with olives and cyprus making their first appearance further downhill. The villages are all perched on hilltops in true Tuscan fashion.
But the main surprise was in the evening when we visited Barga. We should have been suspicious by the red phone box in the main square because the place was filled with Scots! After checking up on Internet I find that it is the most Scottish town in Italy. Locals immigrated to Scotland for work (what work?) in the mid 20th century and are now coming back. The waitresses were Scottish...the food undeniably Tuscan. It appears if we'd come a bit earlier on we could have joined in the annual fish and chips festival! But I can't blame them, a beautiful place.
Breakfast will never be the same again! Look at that view from the terrace.
Not to mention huge buffet and newspapers in every possible language.
Thunder clouds gathering over Tuscan Appennines
On our return we stopped at Orrechiella, a national park situated at the foot of the jagged limestone mass of the Pania di Corfino, home to Golden Eagles. Being a 'bad map day' and extremly hot we gave up on the signposted walks (we couldn't find any signposts!) and strolled. And even amidst the crowds we found a quiet spot to eat a picnic.
Savoury wheat pie and local ham sandwiches. One of us knit a few rows whilst the other nodded off. The area still has some traditional thatches cottages used by shepherds in the summer . Any wild animals were in enclosures (including a family of brown bears) but they seemed happy
had plenty of space and even a pool.
We crossed back over the Passo di Radici. A beautiful drive although I think V has done enough this weekend to last him for a while.