I went on my first Explore tour, the Trails of Hidden Tuscany on the 4th May 2014. I had never done an Explore trip, group tour or active holiday before so it was definitely a change to what I was used to.
The walking throughout the trip was absolutely fantastic, the itinerary was really well balanced. Tuscany has the most incredible landscape so it allowed us to experience some really diverse walks. These walks ranged from exploring the Garfagnana Valley to the peaks of the Apennines. There was also time for sight seeing, where we visited the ancient city of Lucca and the leaning tower of Pisa. Our tour leader, Ben, was also fantastic. He was a great leader and was very considerate of everyone in the group.
There were quite a few highlights of the trip for me. Firstly, the Cinque Terre coastal walk was absolutely beautiful. I had heard people talking about it before I travelled and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The five villages along the coast were so unique, with colourful buildings built steeply into the rock faces.
Another highlight was the rock arch at Monte Forato. This was probably the steepest climb of the week but it was worth it to see the views from the top. Photographs do not do the 12 metre rock arch justice; our Tour Leader Ben called it the window to the Mediterranean.
The best walk in my opinion was the trek up to the highest point in Tuscany, on the Apennine ridge walk. As we were still in early May snow was still covering the peaks; it meant that the scenery was just breathtaking and the air felt so clean and fresh. We ate lunch right on the top in the sunshine.
The Italian food was also another highlight. Because we were centre-based at an agriturismo we were served local wine, potatoes, spelt, honey, trout and pork. Our packed lunches and dinners were prepared by Angela (Rupert’s wife) and were always delicious. It definitely added a huge amount to the holiday, especially as we were so hungry after walking all day!