Best places to walk in Italy

Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast is not only one of the top walking holidays in Italy, but also one that people associate with the wealthy and elite rather than the rich pickings that it has to offer in terms of hiking routes. And there is a wealth of walking wanderlust to tap into here. You sometimes only have to venture a couple of kilometres beyond the main attractions to discover a world of subsistence farmers working the terraces, tiny fishing villages, fragrant lemon groves, idyllic waterfalls and a sumptuously slow pace of rural life. Which is why hiking the ins and outs, ups and downs, is the best way to discover this 50km stretch of coastline which dominates Italy’s Sorrentine Peninsula. The Bay of Naples shimmers on the north of the peninsula and the Bay of Sorrento on the south, with beautiful towns set into the cliffs, reaching down to the water like fragile, elegant, old ladies taking their daily dip. Because Amalfi is grand, but it is old. Chic but with ancient culture. Fun, but fragile. Just take one look at what Vesuvius did all those years ago, and you’ll get that. Or head over to Capri to see where emperors used to holiday, and you’ll soon get the picture.

Peak practice

From the Dolomites to the Italian Alps, Mont Blanc to Mount Etna, Italy has an eclectic range of peaks to be conquered. Few mountain ranges rival the sheer beauty of the jagged rose-tinted Dolomites – peaks that dazzle poets and hikers alike. With several national parks and a stunning amount of wild places, alpine meadows and bucolic valleys dotted by wooden houses and vineyards, this is hiking heaven. And stunning for snowshoeing in winter too.
The best way to hike Mont Blanc is to take on the Tour de Mont Blanc which, being a tripartite triumph of nature, is shared between Italy, France and Switzerland. The highest peak in Western Europe, it has seven main valleys feeding off it inviting some of the world’s finest hiking. It’s covered in snow and ice all year round so, although ascent trips are available, most people hike the Tour de Mont Blanc, a 170km lower level circuit, the Italian gateway being Courmayeur. The rest of the Italian Alps are not to be ignored, however, for hiking, with cable cars taking you up to the high mountain regions in Orobie Bergamasche Park, overlooking the two Italian Alpine peaks of Monte Legnone and Pizzo Tre Signori. Trek down valleys such as Valbiandino, and along ridges leading to glacially gorgeous lakes.
For the hottest of peaks, head to Sicily for a truly ‘active’ Aeolian archipelago expedition, staying in a mountain hut on the slopes of Mt. Etna, hike around Lipari, to the crater of Vulcano. Or go wild and take on a night hike on Stromboli to see the sparks flying out. You can even snowshoe here in winter. Fire and ice. Very, very nice.

Our top Italy walking Holiday

Amalfi Coast walking holiday, Italy

Amalfi Coast walking holiday, Italy

Walk in lemon groves and hillside villages

From £1199 to £1849 8 days inc UK flights
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Travel Team
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Forget the rolling hills of Tuscan period dramas. Enter the drama unfolding between the Alpi Apuane and Apennine mountain ranges – a summit seeker’s delight. In Orechiella Natural Park, walk up ancient mule paths through ancient villages to Pania di Corfino summit. Or trek high in the Alpi Apuane Regional Park all the way to the imposing face of Monte Sumbra.
The Chianti countryside around the Etruscan town of Volterra proffers a bit more of those cypress dotted undulating hills that we associate with Tuscany. Walking through cedar groves, vineyards and the remote woodlands of Berignone Nature Reserve, up along ridges, where medieval forts and castles await. Or along valley pathways such as the Via Francigena, with fecund flower meadows followed centuries ago by pilgrims. The "Enchanted Forest" of the Garfagnana region is also one of Tuscany’s less calf-challenging hikes. You can stay in a range of gorgeous accommodation en route, such as a restored Benedictine monastery, now done up Tuscan style to 4-star sumptuousness. There are only two big choices to be made on a walking holiday in Tuscany. Shall we do beautiful today? Or more beautiful?
Written by Catherine Mack
Photo credits: [Page banner: Rostislav Glinsky] [Amalfi coast: Patrick Schneider] [Mount Etna: Gareth Williams] [Tuscany: Grobery]