Hiking in the Italian Countryside
When most people think of Italy, the immediate scenes that come to mind are of architecture, food, and the charming city life of places like Rome, Venice, and Florence. But getting out of the top tourist centers and exploring the countryside allows the smart visitor a chance to see so much more of the country. Italy’s natural beauty, from its Mediterranean coastline to Alpine vistas, is a spectacle worth appreciating and preserving, and for many the best way to take it in is by foot.
Depending on what you’re most interested in, trekking in Italy can take many different approaches. For example, hikes along the stunning Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre offer some of the best sea views. Amalfi, located just south of Naples, is famous for the Sentiero degli Dei (Trail of God), which takes only four or five hours and passes a variety of vineyards and caves while allowing for constant vistas over the sea. The trailhead is at Bomerano, located between Amalfi and Sorrento, and is easily accessible by car or bus. Cinque Terre, or the Five Lands, is located further north, and comprises five famous seaside villages. The 10 km of rugged trail that links them has some steep up and downhill parts and can be tiring, but is never anything short of magnificent. Each village, whether it is at sea level or on a commanding cliff with excellent views, has its own distinctive character. The experience is very rewarding.
Amalfi and Cinque Terre can be a bit overcrowded with tourists at times, but the Tuscan countryside is always a safe bet if you really want to get out in nature and see rural life as it still is. Get out of Florence to the surrounding hills and you’ll love the Anello del Rinascimento, or “Renaissance Ring.” This well-maintained path meanders about 12 miles through the countryside, passing small villages, monasteries, and vineyards. The pastoral landscape is just as you might imagine—calm, expansive, and homely. For many, this is the best part of Italy.
If you’re after more adventure, don’t forget that the Alps tower over northern Italy and are very accessible. Cervinia, at the base of the Matterhorn on the Italian side, is the starting point for some excellent hikes that can be modified depending on your abilities by the use of cable cars to skip some of the hardest stretches. In the summer, the landscape here is in full bloom (if it were winter, you’d be skiing instead of hiking), though it is still refreshingly cool. It’s hard to beat the views from the mountainsides in this area.
Not sure where to go? Take your time. The best way to enjoy such rural beauty is to find a holiday villa to settle in for a while. Country houses of Italy can be luxurious without breaking your budget, and will give you the freedom to explore without feeling rushed. Enjoy!