Italy truly is the perfect destination for a walking holiday. With diverse treks, historic hikes, world-class landscapes and dramatic rocky coastlines, visitors will find enough experiences to fill many holidays.
With its hot and dry summers, especially on the long stretch of the peninsula, conditions are perfect for swimming in the magnificent four seas that border Italy: the Adriatic, Tyrrhenian, Mediterranean and Ionian. The mild Mediterranean climate becomes warm and wet in winter, giving an ample chance to explore the country’s twenty-five national parks.
Walking in Italy provides incredible diverse opportunities to wander in nature. Going for a hike in the magnificent Dolomites National Park, which contains over 200 kilometres of hiking paths, offers some of the best experiences Italy has to offer. The Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop takes visitors around three iconic peaks. The path offers over 10km of incredible panoramic views of jagged mountaintops with frequent rest stops at many refugios (mountain refuges) dotted around the path. Visitors can also enjoy the large variety of alpine diversity, fauna and flora.
Some of the best casual strolls can be found along the Amalfi Coast, home to natural and picturesque surroundings. The Sentiero degli dei (Path of the Gods) in Positano takes you high above the sea for an expansive view of monasteries, limestone mountains and unspoiled nature.
Not many countries have such a varied history as Italy. Those seeking something a little more historic may wish to embark on an ancient pilgrimage route: the Via Francigena, an Ancient Roman road which stretches from Canterbury in England all the way to Rome. Visitors can pick up the path in Tuscany and enjoy its medieval towns and vineyards. Or perhaps, they can head on to the most historic hike in Italy: the Via Appia Antica (the Appian Way), the Roman Empire’s first highway. This 2,300-year-old road connects Rome to Brindisi on the southern coast.
Not all of the trails are as straightforward, however. Italy’s toughest trail, Selvaggio Blu or ‘Wild Blue’, has only a sparse amount of signage and fresh running water. This very difficult trek features incredibly steep climbing which seems neverending. But the climb pays off as perseverance is rewarded with the opportunity to enjoy isolated coastlines alone or the chance to camp on beaches and in caves with hardly anybody around. If this walk is too tough, hikers may prefer to ascend the Sciara Del Fuoco route on the volcanic Stromboli, on Sicily’s Aeolian Islands.
Once you’ve overlooked medieval villages, followed ancient pathways and had lunch in a refugio, you can head to UNESCO World Heritage Site Cinque Terre to take it easy. Throw off your walking shoes and jump in the emerald waters after following the coastal path. Sit in Portofino harbour and tuck into seafood or rip apart a mozzarella and pesto focaccia in the shadow of lemon trees and vineyards. This part of Italy, the Liguria region (or Italian Riviera), is shielded from cold winter winds by the Alps. Conditions are rarely rough, making it easy to hike all year round, whatever the weather.