Abetone: snow, venture captains and heroes
Midway between Florence and Bologna the impressive Mountain stands out against the Southern side of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines. This area includes the villages of Abetone Cutigliano, a wide municipality, Marliana, San Marcello Piteglio and Sambuca Pistoiese. This mountain has been the only passage along the Apennine between Tuscany and Emilia and it sounds that the general Hannibal from Carthage crossed this passage to go from Piacenza towards the South. According to a legend several places have rivalled to be honoured for giving the name to a pass in the Luce Valley where a red track and a ski-lift are located in the Abetone’s area. A part of Italy that was crossed by armies and revolutionists many centuries ago that has become the paradise of winter holidays lovers nowadays: the area covers around fifty kilometres of ski tracks, 22 ski-lifts and 18 kilometres of cross-country ski tracks. You can be spoilt for choice, for all tastes and for all skills: if you are fond of skiing there’s one difficult track, 14 easy ones and 14 quite difficult ones at your disposal.
The Ximeniana way and the pyramids of Abetone
On the mountain Gomito, where the Luce Valey, the Lima Valley and the Scoltenna valley are linked there is the most famous skiing area of the region: the Abetone, a small district of Abetone Cutigliano. This village was born thanks to the logging of a huge spruce (Abete in Italian) thus the name Abetone (big spruce) during the construction works of the pass that the grand duchy of Tuscany and the duchy of Modena started in 1766. This event is still reminded by the church of Saint Leopold, featured by a simple style that was influenced by the Jansenist ideas of the client, the Grand Duch of Tuscany. There are also two pyramids dating back to the XVIth century in the centre of the village. They were commissioned by Leopold and Francis the III and they are decorated with their coats of arms. Actually they are located in the area that once belonged to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the other one in an area that once belonged to the Duchy of Modena that were finally linked by the pass along the Ximeniana way
Full moon and Zeno Colò’s ski tracks
Sports icons like Zeno Colò started their stunning golden career in this area, three ski tracks have been dedicated to him: Vittorio Chierroni, Celina Seghi and more recently the Giuliano Razzoli one. The ski area offers around fifty kilometres of tracks between 1.385 metres of altitude at its bottom and 1.940 at its top of Alpe Tre Potenze, dedicated to better skilled skiers who can have great fun and let their sight go as far as Florence. And you can trust your feelings especially when special events are held and the “Full moon party” is one of the most famous and it is a magic experience in the bright moon. But the Abetone isn’t only skiing, nature, culture and good food. In Winter you can hike in the park on your “ciaspole” (snowshoes) helped by a guide or you can go cross-country skiing in the snowy forets. In Summer the area becomes the paradise of cyclists or “bikers” thanks to the “Abetone Gravity Park”, a meeting point where exciting disciplines like the downhill and the cross country come together.
Cutigliano, coat of arms and snow tubing
An alternative is the ski area of Doganaccia a few kilometres away from Abetone: ten kilometres of sunny tracks either for beginners or for skilled skiers that look out on the Apennine between Tuscany and Emilia, a snow tubing track that will let you go down the slopes at full speed on board of rafts around the two rings of the country-cross skiing area. The most beautiful way to reach the tracks of Doganaccia is by going up with the ski-lift of Cutigliano, a village that dates back to the Dark Ages that you can’t miss at all. The palace of justice dates back to the XVIth century, it’s decorated with the Mountain captains’ coats of arms that have followed in time and the church of Madonna of Piazza are two steps-over that can’t be missed for no reasons at all. The “Museum of people from the Pistoia Apennines” of Rivoreta near the village offers another journey at the discovery of local traditions and invites visitors to try their manual skills by making toys with poor materials.
Stars, murals and suspended bridges
On the mountain near Pistoia there are several villages where history matches nature and traditions and finds new definitions. Like Lizzano Pistoiese which has thousands of years of history and it’s featured by a number of frescoes that changed its name into “the village of murals”. If you go up towards Gavinana da Maresca, a village on the border with the forest of Teso where the palace Rospigliosi dating back to the XVIth century is located, you’ll find the Astronomical Observatory of Pian dei Termini. The Medieval village of Gavinana is related to a hero and a museum that has been dedicated to him: Francesco Ferrucci, a leader belonging to the Florentine Republic’s army. From San Marcello Pistoiese, a village surrounded by forests, you can reach two important landmarks: Pontepetri, where the battle during which Catilina died in 62 B.C. took place and the suspended bridge which is 227 metres high above the Lima river. It has been the highest walking bridge in the world until Japan has entered the Guinness World Records for the longest “suspended walking bridge in the world”.
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