Soave, Spaghetti & Strolling: Italy’s Very Best Walking Holidays



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Italy, a country synonymous with art, history, and cuisine, also offers some of the most stunning walking routes that the world has to offer. From the sun-kissed paths of the Amalfi Coast to the rugged trails of the Dolomites, Italy is a walker’s paradise. For those looking to explore Italy on foot, here are some of the best walking holidays in Bel Paese.

The Cinque Terre Trek

Route: Monterosso to Riomaggiore 

Distance: Approximately 12 km 

Duration: 1 day

The Cinque Terre, a string of five historic, gorgeous coastal villages dotted along Italy’s northwest coast, offers a breathtaking, on foot exploration of the Italian Riviera

Start your journey in Monterosso, the northernmost village, and make your way south through Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and finally to Riomaggiore. The trail, known as the Sentiero Azzurro, clings to the cliffside, offering panoramic views of the Ligurian Sea. Although some parts of the trail can be challenging, the walk is doable in a day for those with a moderate level of fitness. Remember to purchase a Cinque Terre Card, which gives you access to the trails and trains connecting the villages.

For those wishing to extend their ramble into a longer holiday, consider incorporating the surrounding trails that connect to the neighboring towns of Levanto and Portovenere, offering additional days of scenic coastal walking. 

IDEAL for: Coastal Walk Enthusiasts and Photographers. The Cinque Terre Trek is perfect for those who enjoy seaside walks with plenty of opportunities for stunning photography. The route is also suitable for families and casual walkers who can tackle moderate inclines and steps.

Key Dish to Try: Try the Linguine al Pesto, a local pasta dish served with the region’s famous fresh basil pesto. The simplicity of this dish highlights the fresh, aromatic flavours of Liguria. Owing to the fact that you’re exploring five fishing villages, it would be rude not to start with a plate of fritto misto.

Best Wine of the Region: Cinque Terre DOC is a white wine made from local grape varieties such as Bosco, Albarola, and Vermentino. Its crisp and floral notes pair beautifully with the seafood and pesto dishes of the region.

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The Path Of The Gods

Route: Bomerano to Positano Distance: 

Distance: Approximately 8 km 

Duration: 3-4 hours

The Amalfi Coast is home to one of Italy’s most divine walks, the Sentiero degli Dei, or Path of the Gods. The route begins in the small village of Bomerano and ends in the chic town of Positano. As you traverse this ancient path, you’ll be treated to dramatic views of the coastline and the Tyrrhenian Sea below. The walk is relatively easy, though it includes some steep descents, especially as you approach Positano. The Path of the Gods can be completed in half a day, leaving you ample time to enjoy a well-deserved dip in the sea or a gelato in Positano.

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IDEAL for: Day Hikers and Romantic Walkers. This route is ideal for those looking for a relatively easy yet rewarding walk, with plenty of romantic vistas for couples and panoramic spots to rest and take in the view.

Key Dish to Try: Indulge in Spaghetti alla Nerano, a creamy pasta dish made with courgette and provolone cheese, originating from the nearby village of Nerano and beloved of Stanley Tucci. It’s a delightful representation of the region’s produce.

Best Wine of the Region: Costa d’Amalfi DOC, particularly the Furore blend, is a local wine that captures the essence of the Amalfi Coast’s terroir. The wine, often a blend of Biancolella and Falanghina, complements the fresh flavours of the Amalfi’s seafood and vegetable dishes.

The Dolomites High Route 1

Route: Lago di Braies to Belluno 

Distance: Approximately 120 km 

Duration: 10-14 days

For a more challenging and extended walking holiday in Italy, the Alta Via 1 in the Dolomites is a must. This high mountain trail takes you through some of the most spectacular scenery in the Alps, including rugged peaks, alpine meadows, and serene lakes. 

The route traditionally starts at the stunning Lago di Braies and winds its way south to Belluno. It’s a trek that requires good physical condition and proper equipment, as you’ll be staying in mountain huts along the way. The full journey can take up to two weeks, but shorter sections can also be walked for those with limited time.

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IDEAL for: Mountain Trekkers and Adventure Seekers. This challenging route is best suited for experienced hikers who are comfortable with long distances and high altitudes, and who relish the opportunity for adventure in the high mountains.

Key Dish to Try: Canederli, also known as Knödel, are bread dumplings that are a staple in the Dolomites. They are often served in a rich broth or with a side of sauerkraut and are a hearty meal after a day of trekking.

Best Wine of the Region: Alto Adige, also known as Südtirol, is renowned for its wines. Try the Gewürztraminer, a fragrant white wine with notes of lychee and rose, which is perfect after a day on the trails.

The Francigena Way

Route: San Miniato to Rome 

Distance: Approximately 300 km 

Duration: 2-3 weeks

The Via Francigena is an ancient pilgrim route that runs from Canterbury to Rome. For a walking holiday rich in history and culture, consider tackling the Italian section of the route, starting in the Tuscan town of San Miniato and ending in the Eternal City

This route takes you through the heartlands of Italy, with stops in medieval towns such as San Gimignano and Siena, and through the picturesque countryside of Lazio before reaching Rome. The walk is long but not technically difficult, and it offers a unique way to experience Italy’s heritage.

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Photo by Alexander Henke on Unsplash

IDEAL for: Cultural Aficionados and Long-Distance Walkers. This historic route is perfect for those who enjoy combining their love of walking with a passion for culture and history, as well as those looking for a longer walking commitment.

Key Dish to Try: In Tuscany, you must try Pappardelle al Cinghiale, wide ribbons of pasta served with a rich wild boar sauce. It’s a dish that embodies the robust flavours of the region.

Best Wine of the Region: Tuscany is famous for its Chianti Classico, a red wine known for its bold flavour and notes of cherry and earth. It’s the perfect accompaniment to the region’s hearty cuisine.

The Sardinian Coast to Coast Walk

Route: Santa Maria Navarrese to Cala Gonone 

Distance: Approximately 40 km 

Duration: 4-5 days

For an island adventure, the coast-to-coast walk in Sardinia is a hidden gem. Starting in the east coast village of Santa Maria Navarrese, the route takes you through the rugged interior of the island to the stunning coastal town of Cala Gonone. 

Along the way, you’ll encounter wild landscapes, traditional shepherds’ paths, and breathtaking views of the Mediterranean. This walk is moderately challenging due to the terrain and the lack of facilities, so it’s important to be well-prepared.

IDEAL For: Island Explorers and Nature Lovers. This walk is ideal for those who enjoy off-the-beaten-path adventures and are looking to explore the natural beauty of Sardinia’s diverse landscapes.

Key Dish to Try: Su porceddu, roasted suckling pig, is a Sardinian speciality that is not to be missed. It’s traditionally cooked over an open fire, giving it a distinctive smoky flavour.

Best Wine of the Region: Cannonau di Sardegna is a robust red wine made from the Grenache grape, which is known locally as Cannonau. Its full-bodied nature and hints of red berries make it a great match for the rich flavours of Sardinian cuisine.

The Bottom Line

Walking holidays in Italy offer an unparalleled opportunity to slow down and appreciate the country’s natural beauty and cultural richness. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely coastal stroll or a high-alpine trek, Italy has a route that will feed and water you to your heart’s content.

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