11 best hikes in Italy
(from North to South)
In this article, I want to propose you the best hikes in Italy, because this sport helps free the mind from the stress and stimulate the creativeness.
Doing trekking, you'll succeed in recovering not only the physical form but also and above all the mental. This because walking helps in reestablishing contact with nature allowing you to feel in harmony with what surrounds you.
And I am not speaking only about mountain paths, also exists the urban trekking that doesn't mean to wander through the city randomly, but make a real excursion among the city streets with an itinerary and a map in hand.
Walking certainly takes time. But knowing that this does well for the health and the psychophysical comfort would you not be willing to find at least 2/3 hours a week to practice some trekking?
Italy is a country that offers so much from this point of view, all it takes is looking around:
what city doesn't have pedestrian areas or gardens in which to walk, or, if you love nature, is enough for you to make some kilometer to find yourself on a beautiful hill or mountain along a path correctly signaled.
An excursion is not a sporting activity that requires particular training:
if you are not trained, at least at the beginning, avoid the hardest paths, but in almost all of the Italian cities and regions, there are groups of "friends of nature" that organize, in all the periods of the year mountain trips and excursions with different degrees of difficulty.
Now you don't have excuses not to begin to practice trekking with the purpose to improve your state of mind, reconciling the perfect equilibrium between body and mind, and above all, getting that break from the stress that is waiting, probably, for a long time.
Here for you a list of the most beautiful hikes in Italy.
But it is only a taste since there are so many others; nevertheless, I believe that these are the best to start both for the beginners, and for who is already trained.
The cycle paths of the Po
(itinerary trekking of Lombardy)
Let's start immediately with an itinerary that is precisely located in the North of the country inside the Po Valley.
It is about five itineraries, the cycle paths of the Po, to do afoot or in bicycle where you can go to the discovery of the flora and the fauna of the various residential areas that crowd along the banks of this river.
The kilometers are in total 240 (149 miles), usually to divide into different stops in one of the so many hotels or restaurants that you'll meet along the tracks.
We now see in the detail these five trekking itineraries:
1° Itinerary: it develops along the Po's banks that interest the Low Lodigiano, the South Park Adda, and the city of Cremona.
2° Itinerary: inside the Galena's Park of the Po, where you can admire a typical river environment characterized from poplars, damp zones, and agricultural villages.
3° Itinerary: it interests the left bank of the Po, primarily in roads along the river closed to the traffic up to reach the Regional Park Oglio Sud, around a predominantly agricultural landscape in which the centers of Viadana, Pomponesco, Dosolo and Cizzolo appear on the surface.
4° Itinerary: it crosses the low-traffic roads of the left bank of the Po touching the towns of Governolo and Ostiglia.
5° Itinerary: it develops along the right bank of the river, through the naturalistic oases of Palude di Ostiglia, Isola Boscone, and numerous churches and fortifications.
The Path of the gods
(itinerary trekking of Emilia and Tuscany)
Going south, the "Street (or Path) of the gods," allows reaching Florence departing from Bologna crossing a lane of the Apennines Tosco-Emiliano.
This itinerary can be faced both afoot or in mountain bike, but since it interests a mountain zone and not a leveled as the previous, it is preferable to do it if you have a minimum of training.
Afoot the whole path can be done in about 4-6 days, while on bicycle two days could be enough, but it always depends on your abilities and your resistance.
Anyway, don't worry, during the walk, you'll easily find lodgings and inns whether to sleep, eat, and restore.
If you are asking the why of the name, "Street of the gods", you can have your answer just reading the names of the various peaks you'll meet throughout the path: Mountain Adone, Monzuno (in origin Mons Iovis or Mountain of Jupiter), Mountain Venus, Mountain Luario (Lua was the Roman goddess of the expiation).
The area is full of historical and artistic interests, being one of the more beaten routes during the Roman epoch and the Middle Ages that allow the information interchange between Bologna and Florence.
In some points, the paths of the Cai intersect the ancient road going back up to 2000 years ago, as for the road Flaminia Militare.
Here the path to do in details:
1° Itinerary: the departure is in Bologna, zone St. Luca, cross then the zone of Casalecchio di Reno, from which you'll reach Sasso Marconi: you can already admire, in this first path, monuments and landscape of rare beauty as the Bridge of Vizzano, the Roman aqueduct and the oasis of St. Gherardo.
2° Itinerary: the second part touches the protected area of the Contrafforte Pliocenico, characterized by the particular vegetation, and then it reaches the Monzuno or mountain of Jupiter.
Throughout this track, you can meet many places where the second world war was fought, around the Mountain of Cucchi and the Poggiaccio Mountain, the highest point of the whole ridge, the green lawns of Passo della Futa.
3° Itinerary: the third part will bring you to Florence, passing through the village of Fiesole, where you can admire the rests of a Roman theater and the Acropolis, the beautiful places of San Piero a Sieve, Monte Senario, and Poggio Pratone.
The Street of the Abbots
(itinerary trekking of Emilia and Tuscany)
What is better to restore the mind and the spirit of a beautiful walk in the mountain?
Walking paths and crossing valleys and ridges, in absolute loneliness or together with other pilgrims, you can feel your body melt with the earth following in the footsteps left by the ancient pilgrims.
If you desire to try all this, don't lose the path "the Abbots' Street", also called "Street Francigena of Mountain", around 200 km throughout the Apennines Tosco Emiliano, for a general climb of over 6.000 meters.
Considering that in this case the path is characterized by a strong inclination, it is preferable to face the trip alone only if you are already trained.
The name "of the Abbots" comes down from the fact that this street was usually crossed by the abbots and monks of the abbey of St. Colombano of Bobbio when to visit the Pope or to get the commodities from their possessions in Tuscany and the Oltrepò.
In the antiquity, it has been used by numerous pilgrims visiting the Bobbiese monastery.
These the itinerary:
1° Itinerary: it departs from Bobbio, in the province of Piacenza, to reach Pontremoli, in Tuscany, passing through Valley di Trebbia, l’Alta Val Nure, Valley di Ceno, Valley di Taro, and Valley del Magra, territory in which the monks of St. Colombano owned various possessions and terrains.
2° Itinerary: these are some of the villages you'll touch where you can also find info and comforts: Trebecco, Caminata, Pometo, Canevino, Castana, Broni.
3° Itinerary: the track, near Bobbio, also touches the ancient Street of Squera, also called Street of the Salt, passing through La Valle, Fontana San Colombano, Casteghino, La Croce, Sassi Neri, Pan Perduto, Praticchia, and Grazzi.
The itinerary can be faced afoot, by bicycle or by horse.
Italy Coast to Coast
(Marche, Umbria, Lazio, Tuscany)
The itinerary "Italy Coast to Coast" is a route of over 400 km divided in 18 stops that put in contact Tyrrhenian and Adriatic, going through four regions (Marche, Umbria, Lazio, and Tuscany).
During the journey, you will have the opportunity to admire splendid landscapes and at the same time to sojourn in hermitages whose origins are lost in the down of times, making you come in contact in a genuine way not only with yourself but also with the world around you.
Here is a summary of the 18 stops from this pilgrimage:
The departure is from the suburb of fishers of Portonovo, in the Marche, near Ancona, up to reach the ancient town of Osimo.
The following stops provide the possibility to visit the towns of Filottrano and Treia, on the sweet hills between Marche and Umbria.
The next part will touches the following villages, Pioraco, that will bring you to the discovery of St. Severino Marche, at the feet of the Apennines, famous for its historical-artistic monuments.
After St. Severino the trip continues going up again through the valley of the river Potenza and reaching, through a pass, the city of Nocera Umbra, better note as "the waters' city."
Reached Nocera, you will cross mountain paths until you arrive, over the Subasio mountain, the town of Assisi, spiritual fulcrum of the whole pilgrimage.
Passing then through the Valley Umbra toward Bevagna, splendid medieval town, and Gualdo Cattaneo, the path provide a stop in Todi, called "the pearl of Umbria."
Heading toward the end of the route, you will cross the park Parco Fluviale del Tevere, where you can admire a breathtaking nature, subsequently touching the town of Civitella del Lago, where you will enjoy of a unique sight on the lake of Corbara.
Continue then toward Orvieto, city where the Etruscan civilization meets with the Roman, the medieval and the Renaissance, and from here you will go toward Bolsena with the homonym lake and the pleasant town of Onano.
After a stop in Sorano, known as the "City of the Tuff", you will walk along the Vie Cave, roads that the Etruscans had dug in the tuff walls of these zones, reaching Sovana, small medieval jewel also set it in the tuff as the following country of Pitigliano.
Passing through excavated roads you will cross the valley of the Fiora, reaching first Manciano, "balcony" on the Maremma, then Capalbio and then the final destination of your trip, Orbetello.
The Street Francigena
(itinerary trekking Italy)
The pilgrims' walk by definition is represented, at least in Italy, from the Via Francigena, an ancient street that allowed to reach the city of Rome and subsequently Puglia, departing from Canterbury practically crossing the whole Italy.
This route, for the lovers of the trekking, is equivalent to a marathon for a runner: it is a real challenge to walk, in just more than one month, over 1.000 km of roads crossing mountains, hills, and leveled zones.
The itinerary, practicable both afoot or by bicycle, provides today 44 stops, with ranges from 15 to 35 km in length, according to this scheme:
From 1 to 5: from the Hill of the Gran S. Bernard to Pont St. Martin, touching the villages of Echevennoz, Aosta, Châtillon and Verrès (around 90 km mainly in a mountain zone with strong inclination, except in the leveled path Aosta-Châtillon).
From 6 to 10: from Pont St. Martin to Robbio, stopping by Ivrea, Viverone, Santhià and Vercelli (around 103 km mainly on mountains, leveled around Vercelli).
From 11 to 16: from Robbio to Piacenza, touching Mortara, Garlasco, Pavia, Saint Cristina and Orio Litta (105 km around).
From 17 to 21: from Piacenza to Passo della Cisa, stopping by Fiorenzuola, Fidenza, Fornovo and Cassio (around 120 km with long leveled paths).
From 22 to 30: we are in Tuscany territory, from Passo della Cisa to St. Gimignano, touching Pontremoli, Aulla, Avenza, Pietrasanta, Lucca, Altopascio, St. Miniato and Gambassi Terme (around 220 leveled or hilly km).
From 31 to 36: from St. Gimignano to Acquapendente, leaving Tuscany to enter in Lazio, the whole Val of Orcia it is crossed touching Monteriggioni, Siena, Ponte d'Arbia, St. Quirico and Radiconfani (around 150 km).
From 37 to 40: from Acquapendente to Vetralla, we are in the Laziale zone: along the walk, Bolsena with its lake, Montefiascone, and Viterbo (90 km around with little inclination).
From 38 to 44: from Vetralla in Rome, the last part includes Sutri, Campagnano, La Storta.
Being a rather long and hard excursion is preferable to get ready to the trip providing yourself of all the necessary information and, above all, of the right equipment (shoes, dressed, backpack) to bring in the various seasons of the year.
(itinerary trekking of Umbria and Lazio)
Norcia and the whole Val Nerina are almost certainly among the most beautiful and spiritual places in Italy, not only for the numerous abbeys and sanctuaries of medieval origin but also for the splendid landscapes and the lifestyle of its residents.
If also you are a lover of these kinds of places I recommend you to try one of the most beautiful trekking paths called "Benedict's Walk", that retrace the various places where the saint of Norcia has lived and preached.
The track, long around 300 km, has 16 stops in the heart of Italy, starting from Norcia, in Umbria, and reaching Montecassino after having crossed the whole Lazio and reached the bounds of Campania.
Also, in this case, being a trip with high differences in level, it demands at least a physical preparation.
Following are the various stops:
1° Itinerary: the Walk starts from Norcia, on the Sibylline Mountains, to pass then in other countries of the zone like Cascia and Roccaporena, native places of Saint Rita.
2° Itinerary: passing then to the old country of Monteleone of Spoleto, close to the Leonessana plain and the village of Leonessa, at the feet of the Reatini mountains, in which medieval elements are perfectly mixed with those Renaissance.
3° Itinerary: the following path will bring you to the places of the Franciscan tradition as Poggio Bustone, the Valle Santa, and River Velino.
4° Itinerary: the path continues touching the papal city of Rieti, then Fortress Sinibalda, Castle of Tora on the lake Turago, Orvinio, Mandela, and finally reaching Subiaco, in the valley of the Aniene, where St. Benedict settled for a long time.
5° Itinerary: finally reaching Trevi, surrounded by the beautiful frame of the Ernici mountains, up high to see the characteristic medieval towns of Guarcino, Vico, and Collepardo, nearby you can admire the splendid Chartreuse of Trisulti and the Abbey of Casamari.
6° Itinerary: next stops are Arpino, with the characteristic acropolis and Roccasecca, native city of St. Thomas of Aquino, to finally reach the abbey of Montecassino.
From the testimonies of those people that have already done this walk, the suggestion that it is picked up is to not take this path as a race, but do the various stops at a slow rhythm, to gather its depth spiritual sense.
Walk in Assisi
(itinerary trekking of Umbria)
From the spiritual point of view Umbria is without any doubt one of the regions that more has to offers, not only because in the past has entertained figures as San Benedict, Sant'Antonio from Padua and above all St. Francis.
But also because thanks to the beauty of its views, united to the architectural perfection of its churches, it can fortify body and mind.
Here therefore a trekking path to be done really with the objective to get a rebirth: it is the Walk in Assisi, through around 300 km of mainly leveled terrain with departure from Dovadola, Forlì, and arrival to Assisi, touching in about 2 weeks of walk, spiritually places as Verna, Camaldoli, Gubbio.
The proposed itinerary is conceived to retrace the places touched by the same St. Francis and its brethren.
Following we shortly bring the main stops of the Walk:
1° Itinerary: it departs from Dovadola, near Forlì, touching the places of Fortress St. Casciano, Portico, Premilcuore and Saint Sofia.
2° Itinerary: it passes in Tuscany, to cross afoot or by bike the beautiful park of the Casentino, reaching the Abbey Prataglia in the town of Poppi, Chiusi della Verna, Michelangelo Caprese, Pieve Santo Stefano, Sansepolcro.
3° Itinerary: it crosses Umbria through Città di Castello, Pietralunga, and Gubbio, where you can choose whether to direct along the Franciscan path of Valfabbrica or to lengthen toward the park of the mountain Cucco e Gualdo Tadino, finally coming to Nocera Umbra and Assisi.
Reading the names of the various places touched you can understand that you are dealing with sites of significant meaning, above all for the Franciscan presence, even if the track offers a lot of other amenities as the magnificent beauty of the landscapes and the variety of flora and fauna.
Street of the Transumanza
(itinerary trekking of Abruzzo and Puglia)
Further South and we find ourselves in Abruzzo, on whose mountains once the shepherds raised their flocks. For centuries the residents of these zones have crossed the pastoral streets (the so-called "tratturo magno") to bring their animals in the lowlands of the Foggiano in Puglia during the winter period and then coming back during the summer.
Today these ancient paths have become an object of interest for the lovers of the trekking, so much to give life to the so-called "Street of the Transumanza", 244 km of roads and paths in the middle of the green, that from the Abruzzo mountains go down up to the lowlands of Puglia.
The needed time to cross the whole walk is calculated in 10-11 days but very depends on the meteorological conditions and the degree of training of the participants.
Keep in mind that a downhill walk on excavated roads can often cause falls. Then pay attention.
The walk is divided into 9 stops, of around 25 km each, with some of about 40 km.
Here are the various stops in detail:
1: he departs from the city of Aquila to touch then the places of Bazzano, Onna, St. Demetrio, and Prata d'Ansedonia.
2, 3, and 4: they allow to reach the places of Capodacqua, Cugnoli, Rosciano, Villarcia, Villamagna and Cannosa Sannita.
5 and 6: it allows instead of touching the outskirts of Poggiorfiorito and Costa di Chiesti, to arrive, with the 6° stop, near Lanciano, on the Abruzzo coastline.
7 and 8: interest the zones of Vasto and St. Salvo, and then abandon the sea near Termoli and Portocannone.
9: the end of the track in the zone Serracapriola, not too far from the border with Molise, where were located the green lawns in which the shepherds brought to pasture their sheep in the winter months.
Calculate that to cross the Tratturo Magno or Street of the Transumanza, is necessary to complete at least 300.000 footsteps!
Basilicata "coast to coast"
One of the less known regions and probably the one with more charm of Italy is Basilicata: why then not to do a "Basilicata coast to coast"?
You won't even have to improvise because the path exists and is the same used for filming the scenes of the movie "Basilicata coast to coast".
There are precisely 233 km to cross for reaching the Ionian, in the village Scanzano Ionico, departing from the Tyrrhenian coasts.
Here in detail the whole track:
1°: this adventure begins in Maratea, on the Gulf of Policastro, the only city on the Tyrrhenian of the Basilicata.
2°: it reaches Trecchina, small Village in the inland, and Aliano.
3°: from Aliano and Tramutola, and then to visit Matera, a suggestive village built in the rock.
4°: from here the path starts going downhill toward the sea, the Ionian, touching some medieval villages as Tursi and the near sanctuary of Saint Maria d'Anglona.
5°: the final stop is Scanzano Jonico, a small sea town that still preserves traces of the Greek and Byzantine colonization.
This track has both roads and long mountain paths.
The streets Francigena of Sicily
Also in Sicily, there are ancient streets bond to the Francigena tradition.
Here you can find, in fact, over 900 km of mule paths that go back to the first century D.C., in which thousands of pilgrims were prepared the long trip to reach Rome.
The majority of the roads is in the inland until it reaches the coasts, where the same pilgrims tried to get on a ship.
Today retrace the same roads can help to rediscover a world that appears by now forgotten.
The Walk of St. George Vescovo
(itinerary trekking of Sardinia)
In the list of the regions that present trekking paths that we can define as "spiritual", it could not miss Sardinia with the Walk of St. George Vescovo.
It is an itinerary that develops between Cagliari and the inside areas of the Ogliastra, over 200 km divided into 12 stops, I highly recommend to face it only with an excellent guide because in a big part of the journey there is no sort of indications.
These the names of some of the villages touched by this path, some of which entirely unknown: Suelli, Siurgus Donigala, Orroli, Nurri, Esterzili, Ussassai, Osini, Ulassai, Gairo Taquisara, Villanova Strisaili, Talana, Urzulei, Orgosolo, Oliena, Tortolì, Lotzorai e Baunei.
The name of the route is connected with the figure of St. George, first bishop of Ogliastra in the early century D.C, to which was also attributed thaumaturgic powers.
And now I wish you good trekking, sure that no matter of these 11 tracks you will choose, you will go back home tired, but with a better awareness of yourself!
If you are still not ready for something like that but want to relax, you can choose an Italian city to visit. Here you can find the most beautiful destinations.