Photo ©Elisa Gonfiantini
3 days between Abetone and Val di Luce
A holiday on the Pistoia mountains with skiing and fascinating villages
65 km
36 km su sci
3 days

The Pistoia mountains are one of the most popular destinations in Tuscan tourism; made up of the municipalities of Marliana, San Marcello Piteglio, Sambuca Pistoiese and Abetone Cutigliano, they are located on the southern ridge of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines which was the only crossing and communication point for centuries. Therefore, all the lands were well known since the times of the ancient Romans, who crossed the mountain using paths or mule tracks; legend has it that General Hannibal himself passed through here to enter Etruria.

At the end of the 1700s, in order to benefit communication and trade, it was decided to construct a road that would cross the Apennines and could finally connect the Grand Duchy of Tuscany with the Duchy of Modena in a safe and speedier way.

The works began in 1766 and the Abetone Pass was finally inaugurated after 12 years, becoming an important communication hub between Tuscany and Modena, as well as Mantua and Austria. Even today, in the town square of Abetone, there are two stone pyramids commemorating the event with the two coats of arms of the duchies. During the construction of this road, a large fir (abete) was felled, it was so large that it earned the nickname abetone (big fir) hence the name of this area!

With the Passo dell'Abetone open, the flow of trade and tourists also increased and the Pistoia Mountains began to be discovered, along with the importance of the ski slopes (an activity that in the meantime had become fashionable among noble families). Over the years, Abetone has become the most important ski resort in Central Italy.

To date, Abetone offers 50 km of slopes for skiing, snowboarding, and cross-country skiing in the snow, divided  according to level of experience and difficulty between blue, red and black. The "Multipass Abetone" single ticket makes it possible to ski on all the slopes of the area.

We offer you a beautiful 3-day weekend with daily stops to discover both the entire Abetone ski complex, as well as the small towns and mountain villages that you come across along the road that climbs the hill, each with their own unique historical features.

Maresca, between snow, skiing and constellations
 - Credit: Elisa Gonfiantini

We begin our journey to discover the Pistoia Mountains by stopping in the town of Maresca, a small, historic village located in a unique geographical position which in ancient times was influenced by both the Ligurians and the Romans. After a few centuries, it returned first under Pistoian dominion, and then under Florentine.

It's a very popular place for tourists who find relaxation and tranquility here with walks immersed in nature and the many trekking routes. From a tourist perspective, Maresca is home to the 16th century Palazzo Rospigliosi, inside which there are fascinating frescoes by the painter Bartolomeo Valiani, and other structures of artistic and cultural interest.

Heading up a few kilometres from the town of Gavinana, you will find the Astronomical Observatory of Pian dei Termini. This Observatory is managed by the Pistoian Mountain Astrofili Group and has two observation domes with two Newtonian telescopes of 40 and 60 cm in diameter, enabling excellent observation of the starry sky, increased by the almost absence of light pollution.

At this point, we can devote ourselves to skiing and discovering the first ski resort that we find in our path in Le Regine, where there is free car parking. This is where the Le Regine Quadriposto Chairlift starts, taking you to Selletta.

On the top of Selletta, there's an excellent shelter where you can relax on deck chairs in the sun, refresh yourself at the restaurant, and use the toilets. There's also a medical clinic. From here, we are at the beginning of the Abetone mountain range meaning you can enjoy the entire panorama, plus you have a perfect view of the Ovovia, the ski lift that connects Abetone Centro to Monte Gomito which is the highlight of the district.

You can now decide whether to ski down the blue Chierroni slope (and return to the Le Regine starting point), or dive into the slopes here such as the blue Selletta slope, or the two red slopes, Riva and Foresto.

You can go up using the two ski lifts: the Abetone-Selletta two-seater chairlift, and the V. Imperatori-Selletta two-seater chairlift.

From the top of Selletta, there's a small blue slope, Monte Gomito 1, that leads to Capannino del Monte Gomito. You can ski on the eastern peak of Monte Gomito, where the lifts departing from the Selletta shelter arrive. The skiable slopes are the blue Monte Gomito 2 slope, or the red Stucchi slope; the ski lift is the Monte Gomito ski lift.

San Marcello Pistoiese and surroundings
 - Credit: Elisa Gonfiantini

On our second day, we recommend skiing in the morning when the snow is fresh and therefore more compact and suitable for descending, whereas in the afternoon, it flakes and creates small depressions on the slopes.

Ski on the western side of Monte Gomito on its the central peak where the Monte Gomito shelter is located as well as the arrival station of the cableway lifts.

Avail of the free car park at the C. Cantoniera-Monte Gomito 8-seater cable car lift, the famous cable car that's capable of carrying up to 8 people at the same time and which is by far the largest in the whole area.

You can choose to ski on the slopes dedicated to the great Italian champion of the '50s, Zeno Colò, trying your hand at the only black slope, Zeno 1, and the red slopes Zeno 2, the variants Zeno 3- Zeno 2, and Zeno 3 which was ninth among the 20 most beautiful Italian slopes, for the beautiful panorama it crosses.

Going from Monte Gomito with the Zeno 3-Pulicchio link, you can reach Monte Pulicchio and descend along the blue Seghi slope (dedicated to the Italian ski champion, Celina Seghi), the red Pulicchio slope, the blue Coppi 1 slope, and the red Coppi slope 2. Use the ski lift called Pulicchio Quadriposto Chairlift.

After having dedicated the morning to sport, you can dedicate the afternoon to culture by visiting San Marcello Pistoiese.

Originally the town was developed on a circular plan, then after the opening of the Abetone Pass which cut it in two, it was created along the new route; this is why the most important church (the Parish Church of San Marcello) is not located in the center of the main square as per tradition, but in a more secluded position.

A few km from the centre of San Marcello is one of the most important and unusual tourist destinations to see in these parts, the Suspended Bridge of San Marcello Pistoiese; it's a small 80 cm wide pedestrian walkway (two people can't pass at the same time) that unites and connects the two sides of the Lima stream that flows below, situated between Mammiano Basso and Popiglio in the municipality of San Marcello Piteglio.

It was built to facilitate the passage of the Popiglio workers who worked in the Mammiano Basso Metallurgical Company on the opposite side. The bridge spared them walking an additional 6 km a day to reach their workplace!

Just think that in 1990 it entered the Guinness Book of Records for being "the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world" for its 227 meters in length. Unfortunately, the title was lost in 2006 to a similar bridge in Japan, the Kokonoe Yume Bridge.

It can still be crossed, but those suffering from vertigo are best not to because the bridge swings every time someone walks on it! A fun experience, with a just a bit of terror!

Discovering Cutigliano

The third and final day on the snow at Abetone will be dedicated to discovering the Val di Luce, the most beautiful ski destination in the entire Tuscan ski area given that it contains the highest peaks of the mountain range such as Alpe Tre Potenze, from which you have a view that sweeps across the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines.

The valley was once called Valle delle Pozze because in summer when the snow melts, pozze (pools) are created, the small lakes of Lago Nero and Lago Piatto, while in winter they freeze and create mirrors across the valley. Today, it's known as Val di Luce.

There are free car parks by the Ovovia ski lift. From there, descend on the eastern side of Monte Gomito via the red Celina Seghi slope.

Now we are in the Val di Luce area, the shelters are located on the Passo D'Annibale slope and in the central arrival station of all the slopes.

Taking the Seggiovia Quadriposto Tre Potenze ski lift, you go up the highest slope of the entire Abetone ski resort on the Alpe delle Tre Potenze. From there, you can descend on the blue Tre Potenze slope and the Roccione red slope.

If you want to get to know one of the most famous slopes of Abetone, go up with the Triposto Passo d'Annibale chairlift and you will find yourself at the Passo D'Annibale, so called because it's said to remember the alleged passage in 217 BC. of the Carthaginian general Hannibal during the second Punic war. From here, you descend the blue Passo d'Annibale slope and the Red Otto slope.

The ski school slopes of Sprella, Jolly and Abetina are also part of the Val di Luce ski area, dedicated more so to children and to those who are approaching skiing for the first time.

To get back to your car, just go up with the V. di Luce - Monte Gomito Quadriposto Chairlift, and from there choose one of the many slopes available to go down.

We dedicate the afternoon to the discovery of Cutigliano, the last village squeezed between the high mountains that rise up to 2,000 meters high. Although it's now a tourist town, it has managed to maintain its historic appearance, dating to the early Middle Ages when the centre stood out along an centuries-old road between Emilia and Tuscany.

On your walk, take a look at the Palazzo Pretorio, the seat of secular power that was built in the 16th century and that has a typical Florentine architectural appearance. The Church of the Madonna di Piazza is of 15th century origins, inside of which a dossal in glazed terracotta by Della Robbia is preserved.

If you have time, we recommend that you also stop at the Museum of the Pistoia Apennine People, which illustrates how people lived in these places until recently, thanks to an agro-pastoral economy for sustenance.