Lift 20, 'Pulicchio', is one of the two main lifts of the 'T.O.P.' ski area at Abetone. It was installed in 2003.

This high-speed 4-person Leitner slow-loading 'bubble' chairlift has a capacity of 2400 persons per hour, taking just 6 minutes to go from the base station at 'Faidello' (1240m) to a point just short of the summit of 'Pulicchio' (1680m).

This type and size of lift is widely recognised to be the best possible available as it offers slow and safe loading for skiers, boarders and foot passengers, comfortable seating inside an optional weatherproof 'bubble', fast transit times and safe unloading. 

Four seats are ideal as bigger chairs can sometimes unexpectedly catch the innermost rider(s) as they swing round following unloading.

The view from Pulicchio is quite spectacular. A big bowl opens up from the top of the chairlift and you can pick your own route which ranges from blue-ish to black-ish, but is predominantly red.

Situated in a scenic spot a few yards from the lift exit, the 'Pulicchio' mountain restaurant is possibly the best 'Rifugio' in Abetone. It's certainly one of the liveliest!

Inside the impressive wooden building you can enjoy anything from a nice coffee, hot 'n' spicy mulled red wine - 'Vin Brulé' - a deliciously thick and optionally whipped-cream-topped hot chocolate drink made from melted choc bars, Sambucca, Grappa, beer, cola etc. etc.

To eat, you can select something quick from the bar like a slice of hot pizza or choose from a wide range of delicious fillings served in various Italian bread rolls - 'Panini'.

Alternatively, downstairs there is a comprehensive self-service restaurant. This offers genuine Tusco-Emilio cuisine featuring freshly made pasta dishes, grilled meats and usually a daily speciality or two.

On the decking outside the restaurant, you can relax for a while or maybe get up and boogie to some motivating music - have you ever tried to dance in ski boots?!?

After refreshment, the brave can launch themselves straight over the steepest side of the bowl immediately next to the restaurant onto Piste 22, 'Pulicchio'. The less adventurous can take a cut-through under the lift.

Alternatively, Piste 24, 'Coppi 2', is a blue-ish red running around the ridge, offering spectacular views. Drifting right across onto blue Piste 23, 'Coppi 1', makes the going a bit easier.

Failing that, it's a slightly uphill route back past the lift to Piste 21 'Seghi'. This is possibly the most challenging 'blue' in Abetone and should not be tackled by anyone who has just moved off the nursery slopes.

Far better for beginners to gain confidence first with Piste 35 'Sprella' in Val di Luce, an excellent 'extra-long' nursery slope served by Lift 26, 'P. della Sprella', a superb slow-loading fast 4-person chair.

Then try Piste 7, 'Seletta', from the top of Lift 5, 'Le Regine' and Lift 10, 'Abetone' followed by Piste 6, 'Chierroni', before coming here to tackle Piste 21 'Seghi'.

For those seeking to link back into the rest of the system, Piste 20, 'Raccordo Pulicchio - Zeno 3' - formerly known as 'Ovovia' - is a lovely mild red that leads to the bottom of Lift 18, 'Ovovia'.

Note: This run is best approached straight from the top of Lift 20, 'Pulicchio' rather than from the restaurant in order to avoid the uphill route.

Going 'over the back' from Pulicchio to Val di Luce is a strictly off-piste adventure and I cannot vouch for the availability or safety of this route.