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Who could fail to be charmed by Italy, the renaissance nation that seems to be able to please all travellers? Regardless of what we’re looking for – whether it’s world-famous art, sumptuous local cuisine or show-stopping outdoor playgrounds – Italy seems to have something to tempt us all.
But it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. With so many exciting adventures on offer, Italy still keeps some secrets. Here are some of the undeservedly overlooked hidden gems of Italian hiking…
This is the dictionary definition of a hidden gem. For so many, Tuscany is a region of gentle, rolling hills with evenly spaced cypress trees. The Garfagnana region is a mountainous bolt hole where you can escape the world. Here you’ll find yourself in the embrace of two mountain ranges, surrounded on all sides by surprising peaks.
But the real bonus is the chance to stay at Braccicorti, a traditional Italian farmhouse that has been converted into one of the most special places you’ll ever stay.
Take me there: Walking in Tuscany
The wine has taken the world by storm – now, it’s time for the region to shine. Barolo is the King of Wines, but we predict the area is about to earn its own crown. These rolling hills are cloaked in vineyards that have been in the same families for generations, making it rich with traditions as well as scenic strolls that give you an insight into local life.
There’s nowhere better in the world for tastings than the vineyards themselves, where you can see the journey from grape to glass all around you. This luxurious stroll through the wine regions come with fantastic food opportunities as well – with Michelin star restaurants and glamourous hotels awaiting you at the end of the day.
Take me there: Gastronomic Barolo Walk
The iconic image of the Dolomites may be the Tre Cime, but these limestone peaks cover a huge swathe of northern Italy beyond these three shards of rock, and to overlook the rest of the range would be criminal.
The Western Dolomites don’t always hog the limelight the same way, and yet some of the superlatives of the region are here: the highest summit, the Marmolada, is also the first via Ferrata route, making this area a beacon for those interested in World War history.
The region is popular year-round, with the winter ski lifts providing ample opportunities to gain altitude and see the area from the many sky-scraping vantage points along the trails.
Take me there: Highlights of the Dolomites
Puglia and Matera
Visiting the heel of Italy’s boot feels like uncovering a secret. This rural land of olive groves and vineyards has sacrificed none of its agricultural roots, with labyrinthine caves and rustic, traditional houses to discover.
It’s a truly unique part of Italy. But don’t just take our word for it. “You get a much better idea about Italy than you maybe would shuffling around Florence or Rome.” – Lynn Roulstone, review May 2018
Take me there: Walking in Puglia & Matera
The Francigena Way
Europe has a great choice of traditional pilgrimage routes and Italy is no exception. The Francigena Way is an Italian pilgrimage to mighty Rome, a connect-the-dots of ancient hilltop towns crowned with palaces, churches, and gardens.
The route is even older than the Camino de Santiago, with sections that follow ancient Roman roads with their worn, storied cobbles still in place from the days when centurions tramped across one of the greatest empires the world has ever seen.
The finale is incredible: cresting one of the Seven Hills of Rome for a panoramic view across the city, before finishing beneath the majestic columns of St Peter’s Basilica, where you can claim your pilgrim’s credential certificate authorised by the Pope himself.
Take me there: Walking the Francigena Way
Read more about these fabulous Italian hikes below.