Italy is known for its unparalleled mix of wonderful landscapes, rich cultural history, fabulous food and wine and of course for its friendly and outgoing people. Walkers and trekkers are spoilt for choice, with any number of beautiful regions to discover. As with any popular destination with a well-developed tourism infrastructure, the best way to get under the skin of the place is by exploring on foot. From the snow-capped peaks of the high Alps in the north to the lava strewn slopes of Mount Etna in the south and the rugged, beach-fringed island of Sardinia to the west, there are countless opportunities for walking and trekking holidays in Italy.
In the north the Italian Alps are every bit as magnificent as their French, Swiss and Austrian counterparts, with year-round snow covering and impressive glaciers running off their flanks. Treks in the Mont Blanc (or in Italian ‘Monte Bianco’) region usually include days in Italy as well as France and Switzerland.
If you’re looking for challenging treks in the high mountains there are numerous choices in the Italian Alps, including the spectacular, pale silver Dolomites in the north-east, which were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009. Famous for their near vertical cliffs and spires, which make them arguably the most spectacular string of mountain peaks in Europe, the Dolomites attract walkers, trekkers and climbers from all over the world.
Another option for challenge seekers is the volcanic island of Sicily and the Aeolian Islands lying off its northern shore. Here you can hike up volcanoes including Etna, Vulcano and Stromboli, with staggering views from their lava-strewn summits of the surrounding plains, islands and coastlines.
If you prefer to walk in hill country rather than in the high mountains Italy has many easy and moderate walking trails to enjoy. The region of Tuscany is famous the world over for its open, rolling landscapes, rich history and beautiful renaissance architecture, not to mention its traditional cuisine and delicious wines.
Here you can walk from one medieval village to the next through vineyards, olive groves and undulating wheat fields. Elsewhere you could enjoy some of the best coastal walking in the Mediterranean, either along the exquisite Cinque Terre coastline, whose picturesque villages are only accessible by foot, boat or train, or further south on the Amalfi Coast, where picture-postcard villages are dramatically located on the plunging slopes of the precipitous shoreline.