Looking for some great walking holidays in Italy? Check out these unique hikes and see the country from a different angle.
Walking holidays are a great way to experience Italy outside of the typical tourist spots. The country is blessed with an insanely varied geography, from dramatic mountains and active volcanoes to sparkling beaches and intriguing lunar landscapes, offering plenty of hiking opportunities for keen walkers.
Also, walking in Italy lets you experience a different side of the country, one based on back roads, which are full of hidden cultural treasures, timeless traditions, and genuinely tasty food that are not always as easy to find in major tourist hot spots
Here are 13 unique trails for you to consider for your next walking holidays in Italy, perfect for experiencing the country’s stunning scenery firsthand.
1. Walk of the Silent Villages
Where: Umbria, from Tenaglie to Tenaglie
Length: 90km, 5 days
Quite possibly one of the best places to hike in Italy is Umbria, which is known as the country’s “green lung”. And the region’s “Way of the Silent Villages” walking trail is one of the many surprises hiding in the stunning landscape of Italy. This 90 km ring-shaped route takes you around the tallest mountain in the Amerini range, Monte Serra (996 m), in the southwest of Umbria. As the name implies, Silence accompanies this hike, which unfolds amid sleepy villages and soothingly peaceful landscapes.
This five-day walk takes you through chestnut woods and fields of poppies and sunflowers, slowly revealing 12 secret villages of Umbria that are soaked in history and truly off the beaten path. Along the way, you’ll see such attractions as the ancient castle of Poggio Vecchio; Santa Restituta’s Grotta Bella, a karst cavity of great archaeological significance; and the hilltop village of Civitella del Lago, which affords great views of Lake Corbara.
2. Route of the Two Seas
Where: Puglia, from Polignano a Mare to Taranto
Length: 132 km, 6 days
One of the best hikes in Puglia is the Route of the Two Seas, which crosses the region from east to west on a path that showcases all the Apulian wonders: the sea, the endless olive groves, the dry stone walls, the natural caves, and of course its famous Trulli.
Polignano a Mare, a picturesque little town perched upon the coast of the Adriatic Sea, is the starting point. Then the path winds along enchanting country roads, the woods of the Pianelle Natural Park and some of Puglia’s most magical towns, such as Alberobello, Locorotondo and Martina Franca. The final stop is Taranto, the ancient town founded by the Greeks on the Ionian coast in the 8th century BC.
3. The Path of the Celts and the Ligurians
Where: Lombardy and Liguria, from Milan to Sestri Levante
Length: 218 km, 10 days
This is a brand new hike in Italy that is taking shape thanks to the work of a group of local guides. It’s the first hiking route that connects Milan to the sea, and its name celebrates the ancient tribes which once inhabited the lands it crosses.
This walk, which covers Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, and Liguria, takes about ten days to complete and passes through a varied landscape of plains, hills, mountains and sea. You’ll begin at Milan’s iconic Duomo square and make your way through the vineyards of Oltrepò Pavese before ascending Mount Penna, the heart of this trail (according to legend, its name is related to the deity Pen, which the Celts venerated). Sestri Levante, a picturesque coastal town with the enchanting Bay of Silence and Bay of Fairy Tales, is where the hike ends.
4. The Route of Charlemagne
Where: Lombardy, from Bergamo to Ponte di Legno
Length: 160km, 8 days
This hiking trail in Italy’s Camonica Valley honors Charlemagne and his legendary conquest of this territory. It is said that when the medieval emperor conquered the valley, he forced the local lords to convert to Christianity, and celebrated his victories by building churches that you can still see today.
From Bergamo, Charlemagne traveled to Lovere, on the shores of Lake Iseo. He then made his way to Ponte di Legno next to the Tonale pass. As you travel this legendary route, you’ll see pretty towns, beautiful valleys, and incredible sites like the archeological parks of Foppe di Nadro and Naquane, which feature amazing rock drawings (the very first heritage site in Italy to be listed by Unesco back in 1979).
More info: Route of Charlemagne official website
5. Oropa Trail
Where: Piedmont, from Santhià to the Oropa Basilica
Length: 62km, 4 days
The Oropa Trail in Piedmont winds through rice fields and the Biella Alps to the Oropa Basilica, a popular pilgrimage site in Italy with an ancient statue of a black Madonna that Saint Luke may have sculpted.
Your hike starts in Santhià, a town known for its grand historic Carnival (the oldest in Piedmont). During the trip, you’ll see historic towns and all the amazing natural beauty that makes up this area, including the beautiful morainic amphitheatre of Ivrea, one of the world’s most important sites of glacier origin.
As the starting point of this trail is only a 45-minute train ride away from Turin, be sure to set aside a bit of extra time to explore this beautiful city!
More info: Oropa Trail official website
6. Via Paceuta
Where: Puglia and Basilicata, from Bari to Matera
Length: 170km, 7 days
Here’s my pick for the best hike in Italy, one I’m hoping to do this year. As part of the Cammino Materano network, the Via Paceuta walking trail goes through central Puglia and into Basilicata). Though still fairly new, this hike is quickly becoming one of Italy’s most popular walking holidays because of its low difficulty level (perfect for beginners), gorgeous scenery, and the history it offers – think ancient cathedrals, medieval villages, and historic farms.
The 7-day route takes you from the Basilica of San Nicola in Bari to the Cathedral of the Madonna della Bruna in Matera, through country roads sprinkled with olive groves and Trulli, gentle slopes, and the moonscape of the Alta Murgia.
More info: Via Paceuta official website
7. Magna Via Francigena
Where: Sicily, from Palermo to Agrigento
Length: 187km, 9 days
Magna Via Francigena is another great destination for your walking holidays in Italy. The route crosses Sicily from Palermo to Agrigento, giving you a unique perspective on the island. During this coast-to-coast adventure, you’ll retrace the ancient trade route, which pilgrims and merchants used for millennia to travel between the ports of Palermo and Agrigento.
Along this 187-km trail, you’ll get to immerse yourself in Sicily’s pristine nature, amid wheat fields, prickly pears, and orange trees, and explore sites of great historical, archaeological, and cultural significance. Among them is Sutera, with its fascinating Arab quarter, and Santa Cristina Gela, home to one of the largest Arbëresh communities in Italy (descendants of Albanian refugees who located in southern Italy after the Ottoman conquests in the 15th-18th centuries).
More info: Magna Via Francigena official website
8. Via Flavia
Where: Friuli Venezia Giulia, from Lazzaretto di Muggia to Aquileia
Length: 115km, 5 days
In Friuli Venezia Giulia, there’s a delightful hiking trail that traces an ancient Roman road. It’s the Via Flavia, which Emperor Vespasian built to facilitate the movement of people and goods between the port of Aquileia and Dalmatia. The route follows the Gulf of Trieste for five days of fabulous views, with the Adriatic Sea as your constant companion.
The journey begins in Lazzaretto di Muggia, just 200 meters from the Italian-Slovenian border, and ends in Aquileia, a major Roman port that now has a UNESCO World Heritage Site status. On the way, be sure to check out the enchanting Miramare Castle, once the home of Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Habsburg, right on the sea.
More info: Via Flavia Facebook Group
9. Dante’s Walk
Where: Emilia Romagna and Tuscany, from Ravenna to Florence
Length: 400km, 20 days
If you are passionate about Italian literature and hiking, this hike through Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany is right up your alley. Dante’s Walk is a loop trail that takes you in the footsteps of Dante Alighieri, the father of our Italian language, from Ravenna (his final resting place) to Florence (where he was born) and back again.
Over twenty days, you’ll visit prominent locations that influenced the pages of his Divine Comedy, as well as admire some glorious natural landscapes, like the Casentinesi forests and the Acquacheta waterfalls. This walking adventure also offers you the chance to discover charming medieval villages, including Brisighella, which features the unique covered passageway Via degli Asini (literally translated as Donkeys’ Alley).
More info: Dante’s Walk official website
10. Kalabria Coast to Coast
Where: Calabria, from Soverato to Pizzo
Length: 55km, 3 days
The beautiful coasts, remote hilltop villages, and fantastic food make Calabria a popular summer holiday destination among Italians. Still, it remains relatively undiscovered by tourists from overseas. A unique way of exploring the region is the Kalabria Coast to Coast trail, a naturalistic and cultural walking route that crosses Calabria from east to west in three days.
The journey begins in Soverato, the pearl of the Ionian coast, then heads 55km west to Pizzo, an adorable town perched on a steep cliff overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. Walking along the path, you get to see all kinds of wonderful scenery, from seascapes to mountains and ancient mule tracks.
More info: Kalabria Coast to Coast official website
11. The Renaissance Ring
Where: Tuscany, from Calenzano to Calenzano
Length: 250km, 8 stages
Florence is known as the cradle of the Renaissance for its incredible art and architecture, but did you know it’s also a fantastic hiking destination? I’m talking about the Renaissance Ring, an excellent walking trail that explores the city’s surroundings and its historical and artistic heritage in a truly different way.
The route takes you through the beautiful Tuscan countryside around Florence, past olive groves, castles and monasteries. The total distance is around 250km, but you can easily reach Florence by public transport from each section if you get tired along the way.
12. Tratturo Magno
Where: Abruzzo, Puglia and Molise, from L’Aquila to Foggia
Length: 244km, 10 days
Looking for a truly off-the-beaten-track adventure in Italy? Then try walking one of the country’s tratturi! Tratturi are old country roads shepherds used to move their livestock from the plains to the mountains in spring and back again in the fall.
One of the most famous (and longest) is Tratturo Magno, connecting L’Aquila and Foggia. This journey takes you on an epic 250 km adventure through Abruzzo, Puglia and Molise, passing lush valleys and charming towns that tell a story about the country’s agro-pastoral heritage. Along the way, you’ll also visit interesting historical sites, such as the Roman city of Peltuinum.
More info: Tratturo Magno Facebook page
13. The Mining Trail of Santa Barbara
Where: Sardinia, from Iglesias to Iglesias
Length: 500km, 30 days
The list of unique hiking trails in Italy wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the Mining Trail of Santa Barbara in Sardinia’s southwest. Taking about 30 days to complete, the trail covers 500km of hiking on old paths once used by miners in the Sulcis-Iglesiente region. It’s named after the Patron Saint of Miners.
Be ready to channel your inner Indiana Jones as you’ll pass by abandoned mining sites, tunnels dug into the cliffs and ghost towns. This corner of Sardinia boasts an impressive landscape and precious testimonies of the island’s glorious mining industry – no wonder it made UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. There are some wonderful sights along the way, like the Lamarmora Station, a great example of industrial archaeology, and the Porto Flavia Tunnel, with views of the Pan di Zucchero rock rising from the sea.
That’s it for my pick of unique hikes for your next walking holidays in Italy. Have you walked any of these routes? Or do you have any suggestions? Shoot me a message or write it in the comments!
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Ciao for now,