Schienale dell'Asino (1385 mt) is located in the Apuan Alps, a big mountain range in northern Tuscany.
It is part of the ridge which takes you to Passo Sella (1500 mt).
In this area, which is close to the famous city of Carrara, you can find and spot several marble extraction sites.
In the valley underneath this big mountain group you can find an hamlet, called Arni, in the municipality of Stazzema, in the province of Lucca;
This place is one of the wildest and least visited places in the Apuan Alps: parallel to the Val Renara, known above all for the famous Monorail track, enclosed from the high western slopes of the Sella and of the Macina it has deep and steep gorges bastions, which make it a fascinating environment suitable for expert hikers.
HIKING FROM ARNI TOWN TO PASSO SELLA
STARTING POINT / Entrance of the marble caves road (920 mt)
EQUIPMENT / hiking boots and alpenstocks at your discretion.
DISTANCE / 6,5 km ring
TIME / 5-6 hours total
OVERALL TIME / all day
ELEVATION / 580 mt
DIFFICULTY / EE+ (expert)
HIKERS / Giulio, Daniele, Erica, Andrea and Giulia
On the 2nd June Daniele, Erica, Andrea, Giulia and myself decided to go hiking up to Passo Sella (1500 mt) through Schienale dell'Asino (1385 mt).
After about two and a half hours driving from Florence we arrived at the entrance of the marble road of Arni, where we left the car on the side of the road and got everything set up to go up.
It's very important to bring enough food and water because there aren't huts along the way.
The CAI trail 31A starts right few meters above where we left the car on the same road on the left.
From there you can see the white marble road which climbs up like a snake to the top.
Most of this hike is exposed keeping you on the edge, this means that although it doesn't require too much physical effort, since the path sets on the hillside most of the traits horizontally, It is extremely important to hold concentration.
Unfortunately, many adventurers have lost their lives due to a simple distraction.
Some small sections on the ridge instead, characterized by walls and rock formations, are more difficult and of technical entity.
The first 500 meters of the path are hiked in parallel to the underlying asphalted road that cross Arni, as if we are going back where we came from.
Arrived to the junction we took the CAI Trail 155 and started climbing upwards in the direction of the beech wood where the path lies on the dry bed of a stream.
After about 600-700 meters we were out of the beeches wood and we started seeing the peaks and the ridge of the mountain, where the rocks stand out.
We were finally at the Schienale dell'Asino (1385 mt) (which in Italian means "the back of the donkey").
The view from one side is the coastline with the sea, other side the marble caves and the Apuan Alps
At that altitude the sun was above our heads, mild temperature and moderate winds.
From there the part of the trail on the ridge alternates between exposed passages, vegetation passages and unequipped technical passageways on the sharp rocks.
The ridge is the most challenging part of the itinerary: we walked around pinnacles and limestone towers being exposed, sometimes helping with our hands. From there you find the Renara Valley on the left and the Arni Valley on the right.
After this technical stretch the demanding part ends.
Ten minutes from there we were at the base of Monte Macina at 1377 meters: the view is wonderful and the mountain looks like an imposing pyramid above us.
Here we had a short stop to enjoy the view and take some photos
After the stop we continued going down slightly to the right along an area of rock slabs and then the trail begins to climb around the east ridge of the mountain.
This is followed by a short section of a lighter climb which is followed by a couple of minutes of steep ascent.
Bypassing the ridge we found ourselves in a shaded area, covered by the imposing Sella di Macina
At that point you should be able to start seeing Monte Sella (1739 mt.).
After few more minutes climbing up to the highest point, we started to go down slightly, staying halfway up from Monte Macina.
The first section is in the paleo.
It is called paleo one of the greatest dangers for those who hike in high mountains.
It is a forage herb, with hairy leaves and inflorescences that among its characteristics (not reported in the botanical books) it's also slippery. Walking on this grass, a genuine delicacy for goats and cows, at a point where the terrain gets steep is extremely dangerous.
Then the bottom becomes rocky and with debris.
After about 45 minutes the trail went up again for the last few meters taking us on the marble road.
On the left it continues for the panoramic Ronchieri cave while to the right, after a few meters, the CAI Trail 31 climbs to Passo Sella (1500 mt.)
The view from Passo Sella is breahtaking.
On the right you can admire the whole Sella mountain group, and on the left the view opens to the sea.
Having reached Passo Sella, we descended along the marble road that pass along the marble caves located at the edge of the road and headed where we left the car.