Five Best Places to Hike in Italy
1. Gran Paradiso - Not one of the big names in Italian tourism, Gran Paradiso is one of the most spectacular areas to hike. The Gran Paradiso National Park is Italy's oldest National Park and their most treasured. The scenery is incredible with deep valleys filled with deep sapphire coloured lakes, high jagged peaks, tiny glaciers, mountain ibex, and delightful little villages. Our Classic Walks of Gran Paradiso tour lets you explore the very best of this enchanting corner of Northern Italy.
2. Cinque Terre - Yes, the Cinque Terre really is as beautiful and colourful as you have seen in all the pictures. Hiking trails link the five idyllic villages along this UNESCO world heritage stretch of coastline and you can spend your days exploring and jumping between towns and hiking routes on the super-efficient rail service, before eating and drinking alfresco in the evenings. Heavenly!
3. The Dolomites - If you are looking for a uniquely Italian mountain experience then the Dolomites is the only place to be. Hiking up into the mountain range and then walking from one vibrant mountain hut past towering spires, white-turquoise lakes, and through meadows bursting with wildflowers is one of the greatest hiking experiences in Europe. Hiking in the Dolomites should be on everyone's must-walk list.
4. Amalfi Coast - This is where classic Italian Riviera chic meets rugged, winding hillside and coastal paths to produce a truly magical experience. The contrast of the deep blue Mediterranean and the green and burnished gold of the walking routes gives you an insight into why the longest route along the coast is named the Path of the Gods. Combining this with the stunning towns of Positano, Praiano and Ravanello make the Amalfi Coast a slice of classic Italian walking.
5. Via Francigena - A bit of a cheat here, because the Via Francigena is not a 'place' to hike in Italy, it is more of an experience. Like the Camino de Santiago, the Via Francigena is an ancient pilgrimage route that starts off in Canterbury, England, and finishes up in Rome, however, the most popular part is walking from just over the Swiss border, through the heart of Italy. The Via Francigena is entirely memorable and a great challenge that rewards you both physically and spiritually.
Amalfi Coast: Must Try Foods
Spaghetti alle Vongole – A dish that is available in nearly any coastal town! Spaghetti with freshly-caught clams which can be ordered with tomatoes or without. Best enjoyed on a panoramic terrace with a glass of local wine!
Delizia di Limone – It is said that the world’s best lemons grow in the region of the Amalfi Coast and Gulf of Sorrento. This dessert is one of the many regional specialties; a lemon-scented sponge cake covered with lemon zest and frosting.
Fiori di Latte – Cheesemongers in the tiny mountain hamlet of Agerola produce the famous Fiori di Latte cheese that you can typically find on a Neapolitan Margherita Pizza. A little drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of fresh sea salt turn this fresh cheese into something magical.
Totani e Patate – Back in the day many small towns along the coast, such as Positano and Praiano, were rustic villages. This dish of squid and potatoes reflects on their humble fishing roots and makes for a delicious starter or main course.
Scialatielli con Gamberi e Zucchine – This is a delightful fresh pasta dish with zucchini and locally-caught fresh shrimp tossed in a rich seafood stock. It translates to ‘scialare’ which means to enjoy and ‘tiella’ which means pan, simply put; enjoyment in a pan. Many restaurants may also include mussels, prawns, or clams.
When in Rome
Italy’s capital is one of the most romantic cities, it is vibrant, filled with ruins and European art, and has many welcoming restaurants. We would recommend spending some extra time getting to know this world-class city and here are some reasons why!
Visit its ancient icons such as the Colosseum – the symbol of Rome and the biggest amphitheater that was ever built, the Pantheon which now serves as a church but used to be a temple and the Roman Forum.
Admire its artistic heritage which is certainly not hard to find when strolling through the city. Masterpieces include sculptures by Michelangelo, paintings by Caravaggio, frescoes by Raphael, and fountains like the Trevi Fountain with its sparkling waters filled with coins! If you only have time to visit one art gallery, make it Galleria Borghese as it has one of the most impressive private art collections.
Discover the Vatican, the world’s smallest city-state and headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and St. Peter’s Square can not be missed. The pope holds Papal Audiences most Wednesdays and recites the Angelus prayer on Sundays at noon.
Watch the world go by on one of Rome’s lively piazzas while enjoying a refreshing aperitivo. The cobblestoned streets of Travestere are filled with trattorias, bars, and terraces where you can listen to local musicians. Piazza Navona with a fountain by Benini is a popular square among the locals. Soak up la dolce vita in one of the romantic outdoor settings of refined restaurants or head for a truly authentic meal to a local pizzeria.
Via Francigena - which stage is for me?
Not all of us are lucky enough to have 50 consecutive days to walk one of Europe’s finest pilgrimages to the Italian capital of Rome. The good news is that even with limited time, you can enjoy parts of this ancient trail. You could choose to walk an individual stage or perhaps combine multiple stages. Although it is a hard choice to make, here are some of our favourite sections!
Starting off in Bourg-Saint-Pierre in the heart of the Swiss Alps, the first stage crosses the Great St Bernard Pass into Italy, finishing in St Martin in the Aosta Valley. As you traverse a high mountain pass, this section is best enjoyed from mid-June onwards.
The final stage of the Via Francigena takes you from the hilltop town of Montefiascone to Rome, the eternal city. Follow trails through the classic Italian landscapes of Lazio, rural and pristine areas of Italy that many tourists do not visit!
Stage 4 from Fidenza to Aulla takes you to the foothills of the scenic Apennine Mountains, also known as "the backbone of Italy". Cross the Cisa Pass and walk from Emilia Romagna towards the northern Tuscan border. Another highlight of this section is the famous food of the Parma region, a foodie paradise!
Known to have better waymarking than other regions of the Via Francigena, Stage 6 gives you a real flavour of quintessential Tuscany. Visit medieval villages, such as San Miniato, San Gimignano, Monteriggioni, Siena, and San Quirico d'Orcia. This trip includes many highlights of central Tuscany, with its wealth of history, culture, and art.
Easily combined with the previous stage in central Tuscany, Stage 7 continues through the heart of Tuscany on the northern edge of Val d’Orcia. From the ochre-coloured landscapes of the Crete Senesi (UNESCO) to Montefiascone, where you can enjoy views of Lake Bolsena.