Wild at Heart: Four of Italy’s Top Walking Trails

Christina

Whether you are a lover of the outdoors, or looking to burn off a pizza or two, Italy has a variety of world-famous hikes. From walking its dramatic volcanoes to strolling along the coast – grab a good pair of walking shoes as we tackle some of Italy’s top hiking spots.

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Paths of the Gods, Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast, one of Italy’s most stunning coastlines, lends itself perfectly to a hike or two. It’s probably one of the best ways to explore the coast. The Paths of the Gods is a famous walking trail that starts at Bomerano and finishes at Positano. The walk is easy to pick up from in between these destinations; along the way, you will encounter dramatic cliffs and lemon orchards.

So, why is this walk called the Path of the Gods (Sentiero degli Dei)? Its grand name was given to it due to the grand views the whole way along the trail – so get your panoramic setting ready to capture one the world’s most famous views.

Top tip: Make sure you stop at Arienzo for a break. The steps down the cliff edge take you to Arienzo beach – perfect for a rest or even a quick dip.

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Italy’s famous five: Cinque Terre

Italy’s famous five are the five colourful villages that make up the iconic Cinque Terre in Liguria. It is without a doubt one of the most fascinating landscapes in Italy, so what better way to explore it than on foot? There are many walking paths in the Cinque Terre, but number two (Sentiero Azzuro or The Blue Path) is one of the most popular. Due to its popularity, this trail is regularly maintained and improved making it a very enjoyable walking path.

Paths were built in the Cinque Terre to join all five villages together. Unfortunately over the years, they have been hit with landslides meaning many have been closed in recent years. Today, most are open but you may find some are still needing repair. There is no doubt though, that these walks are a pretty spectacular way of exploring this coastline.

Top tip: The walk up north of the Cinque Terre, the steeper the paths get – just something to bear in mind.

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Dramatic Dolomites and South Tyrol

The Dolomites lie at the north of Italy, and have gained UNESCO World Heritage Status thanks to their dramatic peaks. What makes the Dolomites so great, though, is that there is a trail for every type of walker, with easy, flat trails for beginners and steeper jaunts for those that enjoy a more strenuous walk. The Dolomite trails take you passed forests, lakes and mountain peaks.

Many of the walking trails up into the Dolomite Mountains can be reached on paths leading directly from the city centre of Bolzano.

Alternatively, the charming town of Merano lays at the foot of the Dolomites and has a great walking trail for those looking to team the mountains with a little bit of culture and history. At the heart of the town is the Trauttmansdorff Castle, an 11th-century castle that was the former holiday home of Empress Sissi. Today, one of the best ways to see the town is by following in her footsteps on the ‘Sissi Trail’. The walking trail is the walk the Empress used to take from Merano up to the castle (her holiday home). Team a tour of the town’s traditional Alpine buildings and striking churches, with a visit to the castle, followed by a hike into the mountains.

Top tip: Some of the trails deep into the Dolomites offer up some more difficult terrain. Pack some trekking poles, as you will want to climb as high as you can – the views from the top are worth it.

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Some like it hot: Sicily’s volcanoes

Italy has some pretty impressive volcanoes. If you are looking for a slightly different experience from your usual seafront stroll, hiking Sicily’s volcanoes could be for you.

Vulcano is a popular choice for a volcano hike, but you might have to hold your nose for this one as the volcano’s strong smell of sulphur hits you as soon as you set eyes on its impressive exterior. The climb to the crater only takes a morning or afternoon, and even though the terrain is fairly uneven, it’s not a particularly strenuous hike – and the featured countdown signs are great for some encouragement.

Alternatively, the island of Stromboli has UNESCO World Heritage Status and sees visitors flock from all over to climb its walls. This walk is fairly strenuous, and definitely not for the faint hearted or those just looking for a walk with a bit of good scenery. The hike to the top is a tough one, but a tick off the bucket list.

Top tip: There is very little shade on hikes up the volcano, so don’t forget to pack items to protect you from the heat of the sun – especially in peak months.

17 December is National Hike Day. Have you taken on any of Italy’s hikes?