Saturday, April 16, 2016

We fail to conquer Monte Sagro, but vow to return another time

Hike number two in our book of 50 Tuscan hikes didn’t pan out quite as expected—but it’s hard to have a bad day in Italy. We stayed flexible and still had a good time.
I told her to back up a couple more steps, but she wouldn't do it.

Looking out the window at 7 a.m., the sky was as clear as we have ever seen it in the Valdinievole. We left by 8:30 a.m. for a two-hour drive up past Carrara into the Alpi Apuane to hike above the marble quarries on the trail to Monte Sagro. The vista down to the quarries from the parking lot is unbelievable! Some high clouds were rolling in off the Tyrrhenian Sea, but we still had a clear view of the snow-white quarries and the red-tiled roofs of the city of Carrara. We could see all the way to the coast, although clouds obscured our view north toward La Spezia, Portofino and the Cinque Terre.
The amazing marble quarries of Carrara. Photos
don't do them justice!

We made a couple of mistakes that turned out to be good fortune, though. Following directions in the hiking book, we left our car in the designated parking lot and hiked about 20 minutes up a rough dirt road to the trail head. We saw a half dozen cars parked in a large dirt lot at the trail head, and we realized then that we could have easily driven this section and saved 40 minutes.

Dead end at the cave.
Our next mistake resulted from not following the guide more carefully, however. It said the trail goes “up onto a rocky ridge just above and parallel to the dirt road.” We didnt read that carefully, though, and the dirt road seemed like the most logical path to followuntil we found that it ended at a dark cave. After pulling out the guide book and retracing our path about 15 minutes back, we easily found the trail and had hiked up it for about 10 minutes when we met three men coming down.

The clouds kept coming, dropping lower each minute.
“È una bella giornata,” Lucy said as we passed them. “No, it’s not,” the last man said. “It’s windy, cold and the clouds are dropping down so you can’t see a thing up there. È una brutta giornata.”

We reconsidered for a moment. If we went any higher, we too would be enveloped in fog. We were on a ridge, unprotected from the wind and chill, and the hike is listed as three to four hours long. Did we really want to walk in the clouds for that long, without being able to see the mountains we had come to see? Probably not. So we went back down.

Exploring an abandoned house.
By the time we returned to the car, drove down a dead end road to explore a crumbling building that probably once housed marble miners and drove back down the winding road, the heavy fog had dropped almost to Carrara. We had hiked for an hour and a
Same house.
half and experienced a great view of the marble mountains before the clouds came. We realized then that had we not made two wrong moves, we would have been high on the chilly ridge, unable to see any mountains and maybe not even the trail, so our missteps had actually proven providential. We also knew that next time we should drive all the way to the trail head and start on the correct trail. I think Monte Sagro will still be there the next time we come to Italy, and we definitely will be back.
A nice field of daffodils near the parking lot.


  1. All's well that ends well! Beautiful!

  2. Hiking is always a fun adventure. A little off trail hiking can lead to even more adventure! Enjoyed the pictures.


Comments welcome.