Filattieria Hike- Francigena and Forest -Lunigiana Tuscany

This is a great hike of modest length, partly along the Via Francigena, climbing through a beautiful forest with views of surrounding hills and mountains. It descends along a paved road to the ancient town of Filattiera and loops back to the starting point. It will take about 2 hours, and cover about 6.5 km. While it is uphill outbound, it is generally a gentle rise with only one or two short steep sections. A rude Google map is available at: 

The path begins at a location in Filattieria called Ponte di Sotto, but, unfortunately, there's no sign. Approaching Filattieria from Pontremoli on SS 62, turn at the 2nd left after the Filattieria road at Pieve Sorano. From Aulla on SS 62, turn right at a small road just before the sign to Filattiera. Sorry about that - this does require you to be a fortune teller, but there are few markers.  From Aulla, if you get to the stone church, the Pieve Sorano, you’ve gone too far.  At the turn, the road passes under the railroad, and you should go through and park. Hopefully this photo of the turn will help.

Ahead to the right, there's a small bridge over a stream, along with a Francigena trail sign.  The path heads upwards and quickly reaches a 18th century church. Beyond, it is well trod and skirts fields and vineyards. Often the trail here is 2-3 meters below the surrounding land, worn down over the centuries by pilgrim feet and farm vehicles.

As you rise the forest encroaches slowly, and soon the oaks become gigantic. One can only guess at the age of these beautiful trees. Certainly 200 years, perhaps much, much more. Slowly, signs of agricultural activity diminish, but often terraces are evident, even though the forest seems ageless. One glimpses the village of Irola ahead to the right, across a little valley.

The Via Francigena will soon diverge from the trail we are following, but without a marker. This happens along a ridge with a sort of T intersection. Look for our trail to branch off somewhat to the left. Depending on trail wear and recent weather, either our trail or the Francigena could seem to be the larger trail. To help you confirm, our trail never went downhill more than temporarily; the Francigena, on the other hand, goes downhill toward a large pylon for an electric line.  (See the Variation below).

After a total of about 75 minutes and 3 km, you reach an asphalt road. We turned left (you can take a side trip to the village of Gigliana, which is 1 km to your right, and is home to Naturalmente Lunigiana's farm). The abandoned rustico is known as Ca' Piola. Follow this road down for about 1.5 km, until you take the next paved road to the left. This is the level road to the historic center of Filattieria.

The village itself is friendly and interesting, including a castle of the Malaspina, an excellent piazza,  an ancient Ospedale di San Giacomo that welcomed pilgrims, and two churches. The Church of San Giorgio has nice views, as do several points in town. On your explorations, note the Porta Inferiore. When you are ready to leave, take this Porta and walk down the cobbled way. After about 1/2 km, it arrives back at your car.

On your way home, take time to see the Pieve Sorano, a notable stop on the Francigena. Further toward Pontremoli, after a Farmacia, on the right, there is Naturalmente Lunigiana's store, which sells a variety of quality foods, including their own cheese. For lunch we recommend the well known traditional trattoria in Pontremoli, Da Bussé, Piazza Duomo, 31. Closed Friday. 0187-7831371.

Variation:  Julie H. kept going on the Via Francigena (not turning off before the electric pylon). The Francigena descends the small valley through the woods, crosses a small stream, and rises up to an asphalt road on the other side. If you turn right, downhill, this road will meet the SS 62 in about 1 km. Turn right again and you'll be back to your car in less than 2 km.
Written by Martha