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Monte Forato, spectacular mountain of the Apuan Alps

Updated: Apr 13, 2022

A mountain that needs no introduction: Monte Forato, or Pania Forata, is one of the most characteristic mountains of the Apuan Alps. This mountain has two peaks of similar height and size, the highest of which reaches 1230 meters above sea level, while the second, further north, has an elevation of 1204 meters and a cross on the top; however, the main feature from which the name of this mountain derives is the presence of a spectacular natural arch of considerable size between the two peaks.

The origins of the formation of the natural arch, visible both from Versilia and from Garfagnana, are due to the erosion of water and wind on the limestone from which it is formed, from the span of 32 meters and a maximum height above the pass below ( called 'Passo dell'arco') of 25 m, the thickness of the rock that forms the arch is about 8 meters while the height is about 12 meters, these measures make it one of the largest natural Italian arches.

On some days of the year you can observe the sunrise across the arch from the Tyrrhenian coast and from the nearby towns of Volegno and Pruno. Characteristic, from the Garfagnana, is the double sunset which on certain days of the year can be observed from different countries. The sun, in fact, on specific days of the year sets aligning itself on the hole of Mount Forato. In this way, the effect of a double sunset is obtained, the sun disappears for the first time behind the crest of the hole to reappear immediately afterwards through the hole.

The path to reach the summit starts from the town of Stazzema, and is the CAI path n. 5.

Alternatively and to save time and road, it is possible to take a dirt path with pebbles from which we arrive at the B&B Casa Giorgini, and then take the CAI path n. 6 to the Foce di Petrosciana (1 hour and 30 minutes).

At this point it is possible to choose between two itineraries:

The first, recommended for experts, is to take the CAI 110 E.E. directed to the summit with the cross and to the hole, lasting 1 hour and 10 minutes, consisting of a rocky and exposed stretch for which it is necessary to use a metal rope;

The second, longer but less demanding, involves taking the CAI 131 path for about 20 minutes and immediately after the CAI 12 path for about 50 minutes, from which you then reach the arch and the summit.

From the summit we witness a unique panorama, which includes the villages of Cardoso, Pruno and the whole valley of Fornovolasco, as well as the mountains Pania, Croce and Corchia.

The total duration of the route is about 2 and a half hours, and the difficulty is medium. Not particularly suitable for children and recommended to leave in the morning, well equipped with mountain shoes and a backpack with warm clothes and water.


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