top of page
  • Writer's pictureVanessa Valenti

Unusual weekend in the Apuan Alps: Riverplay and Horse Trekking

We are in the Apuan Alps, for a weekend dedicated to nature and somewhat unusual activities, as I like it. We are located on a mountain range in the north-west of Tuscany, part of the Tuscan Subappennino. The first stop is Garfagnana, a green area in the province of Lucca, entirely crossed by the Serchio river and its numerous tributaries and very rich in woods, where we started the weekend with the Riverplay in the Lima stream. Then we moved to Monte Brugiana, 973 meters high, on the border between the municipalities of Massa and Carrara, within the protected area of ​​the Regional Natural Park of the Apuan Alps for a bit of relaxation surrounded by greenery and horses. On Sunday afternoon, however, Colonnata di Carrara, for a nice lunch based on lard.

Trekking a Cavallo sul Monte Brugiana, nelle Alpi Apuane, Toscana


  • Riverplay in Garfagnana

  • Lunch at Marusca

  • Night at the Centro Trekking a Cavallo


  • Horse Trekking

  • Colonnata di Carrara and lunch at La Poggia

In Garfagnana, in the Apuan Alps, more precisely in the Val di Lima, with its torrent, we find the Garfagnana Rafting center which offers many sports and tourist attractions, including rafting and canoeing. Initially we wanted to book rafting, but the staff warned us during the week that the water level in the stream was too low to allow this activity, so they offered us to try Riverplay. Without having the slightest idea what to expect, we threw ourselves into this new adventure.


Riverplay nelle Alpi Apuane, Toscana

Riverplay is a mix of trekking, swimming and diving, in a beautiful setting, where the Lima Torrent creates the Cocciglia Gorges. This activity lasts about 1 hour and a half, (2 hours and 20 considering also the transfer and the preparation) and costs € 49 each, by reservation. The experience takes place in the Lima River, in Scesta, which you will reach on the Rafting bus. We were accompanied by a guide along the entire route, who showed us the points where we can make dives, from 3 meters up to 14 (only for the daredevils) and made us try the centrifugal slide. I had not yet recovered from my shoulder injury, but the guide was very kind and helpful in pointing me to the most suitable routes for my situation, keeping me safe. Despite some small limitations. the experience was nevertheless exciting and fun, certainly out of the ordinary, in wonderful and breathtaking places.

Riverplay nelle Alpi Apuane

What to bring: swimsuit, towel, technical t-shirt, dry change, sneakers or light trekking shoes. I brought my armored boots, which turned out to be ideal thanks to the non-slip sole, and I didn'it ruin any sneakers. What they provide: all the material needed for a safe descent, including helmet, wetsuit, boots, neoprene bodice. I didn't bring my wetsuit because along the way it is easy to ruin and tear it. If you want to try a new experience, I recommend you try this one, instead of the usual kayaking or rafting: Riverplay is certainly something little known and not found everywhere, and does not require great preparation or agility. I leave you the website link to take a look and possibly book your business.

Lunch at Marusca After Riverplay we were very hungry, and taking the advice of the staff we stopped at this very friendly little place on the way to Riverplay. Here we found delicious local dishes, including stuffed focaccia, fried pizza and cold cuts, all for only € 36 in all for 4 people.

Canyon Zip-Line nelle Alpi Apuane

A few miles from Garfagnana Rafting, on the Lima stream (where we did the Riverplay) in Scesta, I would like to tell you about the Canyon Park. With its woods, a spectacular river and a canyon with completely different habitats, at Canyon Park you will surely find a thousand ways to fully explore these places, with many activities including zip-line, sup in the canyons or climbing, or activities more dedicated to meditation and mental well-being.

Here the link to discover more!

Centro Trekking a Cavallo, Monte Brugiana, Toscana

In the afternoon we reached Monte Brugiana, where we spent the night and Sunday morning. We stayed at the Horse Trekking Center, a structure immersed in the woods that offers rustic houses at the foot of the Apuan Alps. The houses are with exposed wooden beams, kitchenette and refrigerator, bathroom with shower, and a splendid view of the woods and mountains. We spent 100 € in total in an apartment for 4 people to spend one night, with breakfast included. In this beautiful place in the countryside, if you want, you can dine in the main building (thanks to the good weather we were able to eat outside under the wonderful porch), where you will taste typical dishes of the area cooked at home by the owners. We dined together with the other guests, in a familiar and convivial atmosphere: we ate fried pizza and cold cuts, a pasta course, delicious grilled meat with side dishes, dessert, wine and coffee for only € 20 each. After dinner we played the guitar, sang and drank wine together with the other guests: it was a unique and very special evening, absolutely recommended.

Sunday morning, after breakfast, to change our usual trekking a little, we have the one on horseback. The center is in fact very famous for its wonderful horses, and for the owner's passion for horse riding (years ago he traveled the road from Portugal to Tuscany on horseback alone). The activity lasts an hour and a half, with a cost of € 30 each, and is truly unique, but also a little tiring. The forest is beautiful, and the animals are wonderful and very good, a truly recommended experience. If, on the other hand, you do not want to venture into trekking on horseback, from the center you can try many walking routes in the woods, the place is splendid and really deserves, even for families.

Colonnata di Carrara

Colonnata di Carrara, Toscana

Colonnata is a small Tuscan village nestled between the peaks of the Apuan Alps, famous all over the world for lard, a poor food with which the humblest workers once fed. Surrounded by a suggestive frame of marble quarries, partly still active, it has existed since Roman times and seems to have taken its name precisely because the marble extracted was used to build the columns of Roman temples. We got to Colonnata just in time for lunch, leaving the car in the free parking lot at the foot of the village, we reached the center with a 10-minute walk (possibly you can use the free shuttle departing from the parking lot). Once here, we immediately headed to the Poggia for a nice lard-based lunch: a very easy-going and simple place where you can also buy products to take home, without table service. Here we have definitely taken off the craving for lard, making a good feast of lard and cold cuts, cheeses and fried pizza for € 44 in 4 people.

Colonnata di Carrara, patria del Lardo

After lunch we took a short walk in the alleys of the village, admiring the buildings, and the splendid view of the marble quarries, before returning home, tired but with a full belly.

Here we are at the end of this mini Tuscan weekend dedicated to outdoor activities and nature, without too many pretensions.

I hope you enjoyed the activities and encouraged you to try something new, let me know!


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page