Italy’s Five Best Long Distance Hiking Trails
Best hiking trails in Italy
Italy offers a kaleidoscope of experiences for visitors: art-filled cities, skiing on the Alps, sunny beaches or tasting famous wines. But if you like to cover miles on your own two feet, there is also an array of long distance hiking trails for every fitness level, allowing you to enjoy stunning scenery from a whole different vantage point. Here are five trails that you shouldn't miss.
Definitely the most famous, Via Francigena is an ancient trail that crosses most of the country from the north-west border with France down to Rome. Originally created by the Germanic tribe, the Lombards, in the 7th century to connect the Reign of Pavia and the southern dukedoms, the route took its name during the domination of the Franks, when it became the main connection axis for pilgrims, merchants and armies. Nowadays, this route passes through beautiful valleys and mountains, historic buildings such as the Sacra di San Michele abbey and medieval towns like San Gimignano. The Italian part of the route is approximately 945 kilometres long. It’s potentially accessible to anyone, although a bit of preparation training wouldn't hurt!
St Francis' Way
Umbria is the green heart of Italy, but also its spiritual and mystical centre. Many Christian religious orders were created in this region, which was home to numerous saints including Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of Italy. The St Francis' Way crosses the whole of Umbria from north to south, following the footsteps of the saint. It crosses, among other places, Gubbio, a mediaeval town located in the foothills of the Apennine Mountains, Assisi, a beautiful town completely devoted to the cult of the saint and Spoleto, a little gem with a cathedral, impressive stone bridge and vibrant cultural life. There are different routes you can take, ranging from 100-500 kilometres. Although some of the stages are easy, others require good training and are suitable for medium to advanced hikers.
Via degli Dei
Via degli Dei (Path of the Gods) is an ancient Roman pathway that connects the cities of Bologna and Florence, passing through beautiful landscape of the Apennine Mountains. It was traced between the 7th and the 4th centuries but lost its importance with the fall of the Roman Empire. Its name alludes to the mountains it traverses: Mount Adonis, Mount Venus and Mount Juno. The 130 kilometre-long route requires some preparation and best suited to those with at least a medium level of hiking experience.
Tratturo Magno is a 244-kilometre route that goes from L’Aquila to Foggia, nearly brushing the Adriatic coastline. The wide, grassy route used to be used to move sheep during the transhumance, when livestock are moved from summer pastures to winter ones. The route starts at Santa Maria di Collemaggio, an Abruzzo Romanesque-gothic church with a large lawn. It then crosses Chieti, the coastal town of Vasto and the whole of Molise, Italy’s smallest region, before reaching Foggia in Puglia. Definitely an alternative way to travel! Good training is required before embarking on this path.
Sentiero Italia CAI
If you’re into slow travelling and mountain trekking, then the Grand Italian Trail is the route for you. This 7,000 kilometre trail crosses the whole of Italy, from north to south (or the other way around), winding through some of the most fascinating places on the Alps and the Apennine Mountains. Conceived by the Sentiero Italia Association in 1983, the trail, with six UNESCO Heritage Sites on route, is now maintained by the Italian Alpine Club. A must-do if you want to see Italy from the top of the world!
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