At the top of Monte Forato in the Apuan Alps is a strange hole. On clear days you can see it from all around the mountainous Garfagnana district and the Versilia, an area of the Tuscan coast. There’s nothing like seeing something strange from afar to make you want to go there. For visitors to Tuscany the hike to Monte Forato is a popular one but should not be taken lightly – you’ll need to allow a whole day and wear proper hiking boots, take water and stick to the trails.
It is a steep climb but, apart from one difficult steep spot of a few meters, is not beyond the scope of a nice day out. The hole in the top of the mountain is actually a naturally forming arch spanning 105 ft (32 meters) and 82 ft (25 m) high between two peaks (one 4000 ft/1223 meters high and the other 3960 ft/1209 m). Legend has it that it was formed during an argument between San Pellegrino and the Devil when the Devil slapped the hermit saint who, instead of turning the other cheek slapped the devil back driving his head into the mountain where it caused this hole to form.
The walk itself is circular and follows the crest of the mountain most of the time so the views are spectacular, especially when you reach the hole itself. Begin your hike from the small village of Fornovolasco, a lovely mountain town with narrow streets and well worth a quick look around. Trails are marked with numbers according to the CAI (Club Alpino Italiano). There are many good books and maps of trails available.