Actually, we at Genius Loci Travel do not believe in ‘lists’. Our company was founded with the idea to give our clients the possibility to experience the ‘real Spirit of Italy’, which means a more in-depth experience rather than a quick visit. But of course there’s something to say about the ‘best walks’, as without doubt some hikes are more interesting, more beautiful, than others, although for different reasons.
Therefore we are happy to give you a number of ideas for ‘best hikes’, but we strongly recommend to never (!) travel to an area only to do this ‘best hike’ (and then travel on to the next one), but to take your time to check out more of the area of this hike as well. You’ll see there is much more around every ‘best hike’ than you’ll find usually in the guidebooks!
Herewith a personal selection of the ‘best hikes’ in Italy:
The ‘Sentiero degli Dei’ – ‘Path of the Gods’ – Amalfi Coast
Actually, I’m lying here: this path used to be one of my favourite hikes (back in the 90s of last century), but it isn’t any longer. Now that it has been ‘listed’ in many places it’s totally overcrowded. Still beautiful, but you have to go there in January or February to fully enjoy the atmosphere. But there’s so much else to see in the area: if you would like to do this path because of the views, you should check out the ‘Alta Via dei Monti Lattari’, which offer even more spectacular views. If you do it because it’s near to historic Amalfi or fashionable Positano, check out some other ‘Best Walks’ there. If you want to have a mix between mountain scenery and coastal village this ‘Classic’ would be a great option. And if you want to check out the Amalfi Coast, but are allergic to crowds, you should check out the ‘Unknown Amalfi Coast’: same area, no tourists.
The ‘Sentiero dell’Amore – ‘Walk of Love’ – Cinque Terre
Also this walk has become very, very popular. So popular that the Cinque Terre National Park has decided to ask for a fee, and has tried several times to limit the number of tourists on the path. And to make things even worse, unfortunately, due to landslides, the most popular part of this walk has been closed to te public (together with some other trails – more info here). However, no panic, there are many more beautiful trails in the area, enough to spend a few great days hiking.
Although many tourists ‘stick’ to the one coastal path, including the world-famous ‘Via dell’Amore’, the Cinque Terre have much more to offer to the avid hiker. It features a whole network of amazing paths, including the trails leading from Riomaggiore to Portovenere, the paths on the island of Palmaria, the footpaths leading from Levanto to the West (Bonassola, Framura, Deiva Marina) and of course the many well waymarked trails on the Portofino Peninsula (Camogli, Santa Margherita Ligure, San Fruttuoso). All these hikes are included in our large range of Cinque Terre selfguided tours. We therefore recommend to not limit your tour to the Cinque Terre only, but check out as well these equally beautiful areas.
The ‘Selvaggio Blu’ – ‘Wild Blue Trail’ – Sardinia
This still is a stunning walk, and (with the exception of August) you won’t find many tourists here. Butthere is a reason for that: this hike is tough, very tough! Unless you are a very fit, technical hiker, have all the right equipment and are willing to sleep in a tent on some nights, we would not recommend this strenous, technical hiking route. But eastern Sardinia has much more to offer for the ‘lesser gods’: stunning mountain scenery, amazing beaches, nice villages and prehistoric villages. So if you want to concentrate also on the nature, food & history and enjoy a swim as well ‘Wild Sardinia’ has a lot to offer!
The Dolomites – Trentino-Alto Adige / Veneto
Perhaps the Dolomites are the one mountain chain where there is not one single hike which stands out – it actually is the whole chain which attracts walkers from all over the world. But not many know that the Dolomites actually spread out over a very large area: from the Brenta Dolomites west of Trento, to the northern part of the Veneto (Venice) region. We are therefore proud to offer an (almost) complete Dolomites tour: the ‘Ultimate Dolomite Experience’. Which takes in some of the classic hikes, such as the famous ‘Tre Cime di Lavaredo / Dreizinnen’, but also makes you explore the beautiful Fanes-Sennes regional park, and indulge in the Ladino culture in Val Badia.
Cilento National Park
Now it comes to some of our personal favourites – not often mentioned in any of the guide books (yet), and therefore without the crowds that can often be found on some better known trails. A great off-the-beaten-path destination, the Cilento is a stunningly diverse area, where you can alternate almost ‘alpine’ hiking with beautiful walks along the seashore. The area is drenched in mythology, due to its Greek heritage (of course the nearby Greek temples of Paestum are a must to visit!), and has preserved much of its recent past, including many traditions and of course its authentic cuisine. Perhaps there is not one single hike which stands out but the combination of culture and nature in the ‘Heart of the Cilento’, an area largely undisturbed by the 21st century, is aunique. Worth a full immersion – for at least a week!
And then there are the beautiful hikes along the Cilento Coast: Punta Licosa, Capo Palinuro and the stunning Infreschi Coast, which boasts a number of Italy’s finest beaches. Which you have almost for yourself when you hike there in Spring or Autumn. The discovery of your own personal Paradise!
For those who want to do a few days of hiking in the Cilento area we can also recommend the suggestions made by our friend Peter Amann, in his travel guide “Cilento aktiv” (unfortunately only in German). He describes several great walking tours.
Only the name ‘Tuscany’ already makes people dream about rolling hills, cypress-lined lanes and beautiful vineyards. And they are all there! But there are very few areas where this quintessential Tuscan landscape is still intact, and did not (yet) collaps under the impact of big tourist buses. Some of our favourite hikes here lead through the stunning rolling landscape of San Gimignano. Not only the Via Francigena but also several other great walks can be enjoyed here! And after the exercise of the day it’s great to know that you can relax on the grounds of your beautiful agriturismo, which blends in perfectly with the landscape. Some other stunningly beautiful walks can be done in the Val d’Orcia, which landscape is rightly listed as World Heritage by UNESCO. Wandering through the vineyards to a medieval abbey and sleep in a monastery or in the heart of a medieval town is a unique experience.
The ‘Gran Sasso’ (Corno Grande) – Abruzzo
The ‘Gran Sasso’ (literally ‘Big Stone’) is central Italy’s highest mountain. Its highest peak, the Corno Grande (‘Big Horn’- the highest peak in the Appenines), provides hikers with mesmerizing views of the rocky landscapes of the Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga, one of the three national parks in the Abruzzo, and the Adriatic Sea, a distant glimmer on the horizon, as well as tantalising glimpses of Europe’s southernmost glacier, the Calderone. But the Gran Sasso only one of the 3 National Parks in the wild Abruzzo Region. Therefore, apart from recommending to definitely do the stunning hike from the ‘Campo Imperatore’ – Italy’s ‘Little Tibet’ to the top of the Gran Sasso, we also strongly recommend to do some hikes in the savage Maiella National Park, and in the beautiful Abruzzo National Park, with its well managed trails and charming villages. A car is a must to get from one place to another in the Abruzzo, so why not opt for the comfort of a great ‘Drive&Hike‘ tour? This way you’ll have the possibility to fully explore the three ‘National Parks of Abruzzo’ – a lot of wilderness at only a very short distance from Rome, and make some stops in the charming towns as well.
Sicily & its islands
Unlike the Amalfi Coast, or the ‘CinqueTerre’, where you can find a large number of beautiful hikes relatively close to eachother, the best hikes in Sicily are far apart. Therefore do not try to ‘do’ Sicily in a week or even less. The island is big and varied, and offers all possibities for a relaxed walk to a strenous hike, from strolling between ancient temples at Segesta or Agrigento to climbing active volcanoes. Some of our favourite hikes are combined in a unique tour of the South-East: the hike up to Mt. Etna, but also the stunning walk in the Pantalica Canyon, a unique blend of nature and ancient history, and the walk through Baroque Ragusa down into Ibla. On the other side of the island there is of course the stunning Zingaro Nature Reserve, but also the short stroll between the temples of Segesta and the climb onto the ‘Rocca’ above Cefalù are worth mentioning. And even the area of Corleone, tragically known for its mafia, has some great hikes to offer.
And what did we forget?
A lot! The ‘Green Heart of Italy’, Umbria, offers many great hiking possibilities, there is of course the Mont Blanc and the region of the ‘Italian Lakes’. Did you know that Lake Como offers some great hiking for example? The Trentino has more than just the Dolomites and who has heard of the trails in Calabria and Basilicata? Even the well-known islands in the Bay of Naples, like the famous & fashional Capri offer some ‘off-the-beaten-track’ hiking.
JUST CONTACT US. We’ll be happy to get you on the right trail in every corner of Italy! You’ll see Italy really is one of the most scenic, stunningly diverse countries on Earth, ideal for both the avid hiker as well as for those who want to discover the ‘dolce vita’ during a leisurely stroll.