So where to start this blog??? Apart from finally setting up the blog the other thing I’ve ‘achieved’ this week is making it to the top of Monte Prato Fiorito, so I’ll start there. Not quite ‘Climb every mountain’ more ‘Walk one mountain’ but it’s a start!
Prato Fiorito is the largest of the mountains surrounding the town of Bagni di Lucca, (Tuscany, Italy) At 1297m it’s not particularly high as mountains go, even for a Tuscan mountain, but it’s ‘our’ mountain and having wimped out part way up several times it had become a personal challenge. Usual excuse was it’s too hot, another time half way up it started to snow, even though it was April! But this is January and one of those beautiful crisp clear winters days, bright sunshine but chilly, so perfect for this walk and no opportunity for excuses this time.
It takes about half an hour from the centre of Bagni di Lucca by car to reach the start of the walk. For much of the route you skirt the San Cassiano side of the mountain, so get plenty chance to imagine being on top of it! Then comes glimpses of the enchanting mountain village of Montefegatesi, then finally turn off the good road onto a rather shaky track past the old shepards huts of Albereta. A cross marks the furthest you can drive, then park up for the walk to the summit.
For all of my talk of ‘personal achievement’ note the word ‘walk’. This is a walk, not a climb. 200m uphill, it’s steep but all on rough grass with a well worn path. The others flew up, or so it seemed to me. I dragged myself along slowly behind, being very unfit and with a dodgy knee. The fact that the flask of minestrone was up ahead kept me going, along with a determination to finally get up there. As I did so I told myself that then I’d have done it, wouldn’t need to do it again, and so in future could go back to just picnicking near the bottom.
So here I am, at the top! But the views were so awesome I imediately felt sure I would come up again and again. All the huffing and puffing was well worthwhile. Suddenly all the cliches poured out, ‘panoramic’, ‘on top of the world’, ‘see for miles’….. Too many cliches uttered, yet so very true. Depending on which direction I faced I could track the Lima valley or the Serchio valley, and the mountains of the Garfagnana, the Apuane Alps or the Apennines. And that minestrone at the summit was the best tasting soup I’ve ever had!
Prato Fiorito means flowery meadow, but of course there were no flowers in January. So now I guess I will have to do it again in Spring, to show you the wildflowers. Well, maybe! We’ll see!
How to reach Monte Prato Fiorito.
From Lucca or Pistoia direction take the SS12 to Bagni di Lucca. Monte Prato Fiorito is approx 16km from the centre of Bagni di Lucca. To reach it take the Montefegatesi road on the right of the park in the centre of town. Follow this until the signs for Albereta and Prato Fiorito, then head off right on the track. This final stetch is bumpy and potholes but is okay in a normal car (we have a VW Polo), just take it slow. Park up at the cross at Foce al lago, then head right on foot.
Bus towards Montefegatesi will take you as far as the Albereta turn off. See http://www.lazzi.it for timetables.
Mountain Biking. The Gran Tour Prato Fiorito is a 42km mountain bike race around the Bagni di Lucca hills, for 2011 it will be May 29th. 2010 was the 9th race, with 600 cyclists. see http://www.gtpratofiorito.it/
Lucca Quad offer a quad bike trek up Prato Fiorito http://www.luccaquad.com/ENG/escursioni_quad.asp