With diverse landscapes ranging from the Dolomites in the Alps to the picturesque coast of Puglia, and from the rolling vine-covered hills of Piedmont to the rugged mountains of Sicily, Italy has something for walkers of all abilities and expectations. Where you choose to go will depend on the type of landscapes that you like to walk through and the places you wish to explore en route.
For mountain walking, the Dolomites, perhaps the most beautiful of the Alpine range, are a good choice and not just for seasoned walkers. While the ascents to iconic peaks such as the 2,562-metre-high Sciliar will satisfy those looking for more demanding hikes, there are plenty of moderate-level, but equally rewarding, paths through the lush meadows and scented forest that lie below, where the views are framed by the jagged limestone peaks.
A little further off the beaten track lie the Apennines, the mountains that form Italy's backbone, great for more demanding hikes; and Sicily's Madonie Mountains, where the walks are moderate. A few days spent walking in either of these ranges will leave you feeling as though you have really had a chance to get away from it all. To see them at their best travel in autumn to enjoy the glorious colours of the oak and chestnut woods that coat the slopes.
But you needn't head to the mountains for awe-inspiring views and rewarding walking. In the north-west, Liguria is a justifiably popular choice among walkers. However, rather than following the well-known Path of the Cinque Terre, a much better option is to explore the higher trails, which are quieter and command equally, if not more, spectacular panoramas of the rugged coastline with its wooded slopes and colourful fishing ports nestling in small bays.
Further south, the Amalfi Coast has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of the beauty of its scenery and the villages which cling precariously to the slopes. Besides the remarkable vistas, it delights the walker's senses in every way: the scent of lemons, the murmur of the turquoise sea, the delicious fish and seafood with which you can round off your walk.
Of course, the wonderful food and wine in which you can indulge at the end of a day's walking is one of the great pleasures of Italy, and this is true of any region. However, if you would like some walking with a special emphasis on gastronomy, you should choose Piedmont. Here, with the Alps lining the horizon, you can enjoy gentle strolls from one timeless medieval village to the next, pausing at wineries for tastings of the region's superlative wines that are perfectly complemented by its rich cuisine featuring white truffles and hazelnuts. Similarly, Lake Iseo, between Como and Garda, offers an enticing combination of glorious scenery, outstanding cuisine (with plenty of fish) and wines that, like the lake itself, remain a well-kept secret outside Italy.
For cultural, rather than culinary, indulgence (though, naturally, the latter does, once again, tend to feature strongly), Tuscany never fails to impress, with a Renaissance masterpiece seemingly in every village church. This is the perfect choice for anyone looking for quite leisurely walking, though, for more of a challenge and a real sense of journey - it is possible, over the course of a week, to walk from Bologna to Florence along sections of the Via degli Dei between rugged peaks named after gods.
All the regions listed here can be explored with Inntravel, one of Britain's leading specialists in independent self-guided walking holidays. Theirs is a simple, but winning, formula: armed with detailed route notes and a map, and carrying just a picnic, drinks and a camera, you walk entirely at your own pace from one village to the next, where your luggage will be ready waiting for you. You stay in family-run hotels of character, hand-picked for their warm hospitality and excellent restaurants.
Graded from 1 (easiest) to 3 (hardest), the itineraries are typically of 6 or 7 nights' duration, and can be tailored to your individual requirements by adding extra nights, upgrading to superior rooms or hotels, and starting on the day of your choice. Travel arrangements can be equally flexible. You can make your own arrangements (perfect if you are already in Italy) or book flights and connecting travel from the UK through Inntravel.
This information has been provided by Inntravel.