Italy is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe, if not the world. The food, the wine, the gorgeous towns and cities, the people and of course, the weather. In summer, the weather is picture perfect with blue skies for days and the sun warming your skin.
No matter where you go in Italy, whether you are in Florence, Cinque Terre, Rome or Sicily, you are bound to find many picture perfect moments.
It is hard to escape the beauty of Italy when you’re scrolling through social media, reading travel blogs or trolling the travel brochure (do people still do this?). One of amazing way to discover Italy and if you choose, stray from the “beaten path” is to hike.
If you are looking for some of the best hikes in Italy you have come to the right place. In this post you will find recommendations for the Best Hikes in Italy, tips on how to get there, where to stay and when to go as well as some photography tips along the way.
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- 1 The Best Hikes in Italy
- 2 Share It!
- 3 My BEST Travel Resources
The Best Hikes in Italy
Keep reading to find out the best hikes in Italy that you need to add to your bucket list this year.
If you think I’ve missed a hike on the list please let me know in the comments below.
About 30 km northwest of Rome is the largest necropolis in the Mediterranean, a UNESCO site that is still little known. The Etruscan Necropolis of Cerveteri covers 44 hectares, it is the work of the Etruscans, an ancient civilization of Italy subjugated by the Romans in the 4th century BC.
The necropolis is the starting point of one of the most popular nature walks in central Italy.
There is a part of the city of the dead made up of mound tombs, very impressive, that you need to pay a ticket to visit. Or you can go straight to the part of the necropolis called ” Way to the Underworld”, a narrow road carved into the tuff with hundreds of chamber tombs carved into the rock walls. Bring a flashlight with you so you can explore them one by one.
After leaving behind the necropolis you descend into a lush gorge that hides 5 beautiful waterfalls and ancient iron mills. Once you reach the waterfalls of Mola and Ospedaletto, which are among the most beautiful waterfalls near Rome, you can go back to the starting point, or continue to the village of Castel Giuliano.
The walk is of medium difficulty and can cause problems for those not wearing hiking shoes. There is a small ford that can be faced wearing gaiters and waterproof shoes. Doing the loop trail, you walk for 15 km.
If you intend to linger in this area and explore it at your leisure, take a room at the B&B Antica Locanda Cavallino Bianco.
Hermitage of Poggio Conte, Ischia di Castro
On the border between Lazio and Tuscany stretches a part of the Italian countryside that is still far from the tourists’ radar and known as “Tuscia“.
Along the course of the River Fiora, there are some suggestive historical landmarks reachable only by walking, such as the Hermitage of Poggio Conte.
The hermitage is a cave carved into the rock featuring a central throne, carved columns, vaults frescoed with symbols of fertility, and several niches. It is said that the cave was used as a church by the Knights Templar in the 13th century, and has been considered sacred by locals ever since.
Outside this mysterious rupestrian church, there is a natural amphitheater where a small waterfall flows, a magical and silent place to meditate or have a picnic meal.
To reach the hermitage of Poggio Conte, leave your car along the SP109 (provincial road 109) at the intersection with the country road “Strada Eremo di Poggio Conte”.
Walk downhill for about a kilometer until you reach a wooden gate that leads to a large flat area that runs along the River Fiora and is home to cows and calves. Continue for about an hour until you get to a small wooden bridge that crosses the river and from there go on following the signs to the hermitage. This walk, round trip, takes about 4 hours, the difficulty level is easy.
If you want to stay overnight nearby, take a room in a country estate with a swimming pool like Agriturismo Castro.
Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza, Cinque Terre
Elena, The Carry-On Chronicles
Hiking is one of the most popular activities in the vibrant Cinque Terre. Part of the Liguria region of Northern Italy, the Cinque Terre consists of five irresistibly charming seaside villages carved into the landscape. While the towns are stunning from all angles, nothing compares to the aerial views you will encounter by hiking.
Fortunately, there are over 75 hiking trails and walking paths throughout this nature-lover’s paradise, and the hike from Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza is truly unforgettable. One of five coastal trails that make up the popular Blue Path, the Monterosso to Vernazza hike is considered to be the most difficult of the five.
On average, the hike will take approximately 90 minutes to two hours to complete. This will largely depending on how often you stop to take in the view, snap some pictures, or simply catch your breath after the steep climbs! To hop on the trail, you will walk past Monterosso’s sand beaches and Torre Aurora until you see the walking path leading up the hill.
Before your visit, there are some important Cinque Terre tips to keep in mind. For instance, before hiking, you will need to purchase the Cinque Terre Trekking Card, which grants you access to all of the footpaths. You can purchase this online, at any of the village train stations, or as you begin the hike in Monterosso.
In addition, you should ideally begin your hike at or around sunrise, when temperatures are most comfortable and there are less crowds. It is also advisable to purchase any provisions you may need the day before and to stay hydrated while hiking. This trail also offers very little sun coverage, so skin protection is pertinent.
As one of the most photogenic areas in Italy, there are numerous points along the hike that you’ll likely want to capture. The very first view to look out for is right as you begin the hike; simply turn around for a spectacular view of Monterosso below you! There are also several beautiful viewpoints to capture as you near Vernazza, one at around the halfway point and one just before you descend into the town.
For a comfortable stay with an incredible view in the Cinque Terre, consider booking one of the charming apartments at Tagià in Vernazza. Since accommodations in the Cinque Terre can be quite competitive, you will ideally want to book several months in advance, particularly in the peak season of summer.
Denise, Chef Denise
Located in the Apennine Mountains in the Garfagnana region of Tuscany, the Parco dell’Orecchiella has some of the best hiking trails in Italy.
As evidenced by the all-Italian map in the parking lot, this area does not get a lot of tourists, and that’s one of the things that makes it special. The lack of English is a small price to pay in exchange for feeling like you have the whole park all to yourself.
From the parking lot, you can see the visitors center which is the place to start. Depending on the time of year, or if anyone feels like working, there may be a fee of 2 euros to enter that would be paid there. You can also pick up a map at the tiny deli in the parking lot. Stop in for any last minute provisions and the restroom before you head out for your hike.
The Parco dell’Orecchiella offers hikes for every level hiker which are denoted by color on the map. Only advanced hikers should take the more difficult trail marked in red which goes into the mountains. The yellow trail is more intermediate, and the blue trail, very easy. While the red trail provides amazing views at higher altitudes, each one offers beautiful vistas and scenic walks through the woods.
Since the park is in a remote area, there are no hotels in the immediate vicinity. But it’s less than an hour drive from Barga, one of the most beautiful villages in Tuscany. Stay and eat at the Renaissance Tuscany II Ciocco Resort and you will not be disappointed! Their regional Italian dishes are superb!
Portofino to San Fruttuoso
James, Travel Collecting
One of the loveliest hikes in Italy is the hike between Portofino and San Fruttuoso. Portofino is a tiny and incredibly picturesque fishing village that is most famous as a playground for the rich and famous. Colorful houses line a tiny cove crowded with sailing boats and yachts.
You can stay there or take a ferry from nearby Rapallo or Santa Margherita Ligure. A top place to stay in Portofino is the hilltop Splendido Hotel. Its stylish glamor is the very epitome of La Dolce Vita.
From the ferry pier, head straight up the hill. The path climbs almost immediately, up a long series of steps, passing houses and then tiny terraces with lemon and olive trees. It then flattens out and hugs the edge of the top of a cliff, with the Mediterranean a brilliant blue far below.
The trail eventually starts down a series of switchbacks through woods before ending at the hidden San Fruttuoso Bay. This tiny bay can only be reached on foot or by boat. There’s a gorgeous tenth century abbey, several restaurants, and a lovely beach with deck chairs.
The entire trail is 3 miles one way, with an elevation change of 863 feet, and takes about two hours. It’s rated as moderate due to the steep start and end, though the main middle section of the trail is easy.
I recommend doing the hike from Portofino in the morning and then taking the last boat back from San Fruttuoso in the late afternoon. That way you can cool off after the hike and spend the afternoon at the secluded beach.
Sacra di San Michele
There are many fantastic hikes in northern Italy, but Sacra di San Michele must be highlighted as one of the best hikes in Italy. The impressive abbey is located about 40km from Turin on a rock ledge, high above Susa Valley.
Start your hike in the lovely village of Avigliana. First highlight is the town’s castle ruins, located on a small hill, from here you can enjoy an incredible view of the surrounding valley with its two blue lakes.
Continuing the path towards the abbey which has been Umberto Eco’s inspiration for its book “the name of the rose”, you will use the old pilgrims ways.
It is quite a hike up the mountain, but it’s absolutely worth it!
The best place to take a picture of the abbey is the Punta dell’Ancoccia. You won’t be able to miss that great view point as it is the highest point of your ascent, and you will have to take your breath again to continue.
The final stretch before reaching the famous Sacra di San Michele offers stunning views onto Avigliana and its surrounding.
If possible, make time to visit the impressive symbol of the Piedmont region, once you reach it. The self-guided tour of the abbey does cost € 8.00 per person, and you should allow about 1.5hrs for it.
The breathtaking views into Susa Valley and even the city of Turin from the rock edge, on which it is located, are for free.
Using the antic mule trails, you will, after having enjoyed that historical place, hike down the mountain to the little village of Sant’Ambrogio di Torino.
From here, the hiking path back to Avigliana is pretty even and easy to walk on.
The entire hike is quite long with a total of 17km, you may decide to take the train back instead of hiking the last 4km.
You should be staying in Giulias B&B In Riva al Lago while hiking in this fantastic area. The place is located in between the 2 lakes of Avigliana, so that you can enjoy a relaxing swim after a beautiful hiking day in Susa Valley.
San Vito Lo Capo, Sicily
Zoe, Together in Transit
One of the best hikes well worth doing on the island of Sicily is the Monte Cofano reserve loop near San Vito Lo Capo. Located at the North West of the island, the whole area is perfect for hiking, whether route loops like this one to other more adventurous hikes taking you right to the top of the peaks.
The Monte Cofano reserve is a beautiful nature area that many locals head to for the beach as well as hiking. Starting the hike from the beach area near the Tonnara del Cofano, you can follow a dirt path that first follows the route along the rock edge with the gorgeous blue waters below. This is the prettiest part of the route as you can see the coast line all the way to San Vito Lo Capo.
Further along the route you arrive on the coast looking towards Cornino. Here is just as beautiful with the mountains in the distance. If you’re lucky, you will enjoy the hike with some local wild cows that wander the area. They are pretty friendly but keep your dog on a leash for safety if you’re hiking with your four-legged friend.
From here you can choose to hike to the top of the peak of the Monte Cofano, or head over and back down to where you started. Either way, stop here for some beautiful views from both coastlines and to enjoy the nature of wild flowers.
In total it’s roughly 4 to 5 hours to hike if you have a good level of fitness for the 12-kilometre loop. Always remember to take some snacks and water with you too, as well as dressing appropriately for hiking with good walking shoes.
Rai, A Rai of Light
Located in the Graian Alps, Sella-Herbetet Traverse is an arduous trek through the Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso.
This long but rewarding trail extends over 12 miles, beginning and ending in the small town village of Valnontey. The route follows the old mule trail to Rifugio Sella and up to Casolari dell’Herbetet, offering amazing views of the surrounding landscape and a couple of the highest mountains in the country. The ascent is 1178m and the return is downhill back to the village from the casolari.
Even though it is possible to complete this trek in about 10 hours, it is recommended to complete this over 2 days by staying at one of the many huts scattered along the way. This allows you to appreciate the unique nature as well as the herd of ibex and chamois that call this part of the world home.
It also gives you the opportunity of witnessing the rising sun that this region is so well renowned for.
One essential tip is to make sure that the weather is clear for the entire day before attempting any hike as the narrow paths can become dangerous during times of limited visibility.
Linda, Hiking the Alps
In northern Italy, within the region of South Tyrol no (hiking) vacation is complete without having visited the world-famous Three Peaks within the Dolomite mountains.
The Dolomites are formed from coral and chalk and famous for their unique beauty. That gift of nature with its bizarre and irregular shapes has been recognized in 2009 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The round trip hike of the Three Peaks is a relatively easy hike of approx. 3,5hrs with just little elevation.
Starting point is the huge parking at the Rifugio Auronzo, on the south face of the majestic rocks. The private road to get there does cost € 30.00 for a regular car. A lot cheaper is the public bus from the city of Toblach.
The first highlight on the wide path is a little church and the Lavaredo hut. From Patern saddle you will for the first time have a glimpse on the well-known and famous view of the Three Peaks.
When reaching the Three Peaks hut you have done halfway of that awesome hike. All postcard pictures have been taken from this spot. If you brought a picnic, this fabulous photo spot, near the hut is the place to enjoy it.
Continuing on the main trail, you are now facing the fantastic views in front of you while hiking towards Lange Alm.
Take a last view on the Three Peaks on the Col Forcellina before finishing that impressive hike and returning to the parking.
To experience sunrise and sundown in that mystical surrounding, you should book a night’s accommodation at the Three Peaks hut. Reserve your bed early, spaces are limited and very popular!
It is very important to know before arriving that you will never be alone on that hike. Especially in summer, the entire area is crowed with tourists and hikers. To avoid the masses as much as possible, try to start your hike as early as you can.
Alternatively, start your hike to the Tree Peaks from Fischleinboden. That hike is definitely more difficult, but as nice as the main round trip and not as crowed.
What do you think the are the best hiking trails in Italy ? Let me know in the comments below
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