In this article we try to give you a brief overview of the main paths of Italy, with some advice to embark on the in the best way possible.
Starting an adventure like this can be one of the most important experiences in your life. Slow and experiential tourism is becoming increasingly popular and appreciated, especially for the growing attention to environmental sustainability. Walking is a challenge to ourselves and gives us the opportunity to appreciate in a deeper and more authentic way the contact with nature and history.
For convenience, we have chosen to order the most famous walks in Italy, from the longest to the shortest:
1) Via Francigena
The complete route length is 2200 km and it runs through England, France, Switzerland, Italy and the Vatican State. However, in this article, we will introduce you only the Italian one, whose length is about 1000 km. The route goes from the Colle del Gran San Bernardo to Rome. This route was used by pilgrims to cross the territories of the "Franks" (Germany and France) and reach Rome. Precisely for this reason, the famous Via Francigena has acquired a mystical and spiritual meaning.
Walking through it, is not feasible for everyone. We are talking about 45 milestones and an average journey time of a month and a half. If you are planning to venture on this path we advise you to equip yourself adequately with trekking shoes, informative material and maps.
When is the best time to travel the Via Francigena? The best months to cross it are May, June, September and October. The route is always accessible, although in the other months it is very likely to encounter difficulties related to the climate.
2) Cammino di San Bendetto
This journey’s length is 300 km, and it runs through Umbria and Lazio. In particular, it connects Norcia with Montecassino. What is its origin? As the name suggests, this path unites the most important places in the life of Saint Benedict: Norcia, his birthplace, Subiaco, the place where he lived for thirty years founding numerous monasteries, and Montecassino, where he spent the last part of his life and where he completed the Rule of the Order of Saint Benedict.
How long does it take to complete the journey? On average it takes 16 to 20 days. Consider that the official milestones are 16. When should you walk this path? Our advice is to choose the middle seasons.
3) Cammino nelle Terre Mutate
This path was born during the "Long March for L'Aquila" in 2012, to express solidarity with the earthquake victims. The path consists of 14 steps, for a total length of about 257 km. The path crosses Marche, Umbria, Lazio and Abruzzo. The average walking time goes from 14 to 16 days. The altitude along the path varies greatly, as well as the climate, which also becomes very hostile in mountain stretches. For this reason, it is advisable to walk it in summer, paying attention to the summer storms, which unfortunately are very frequent. We advise you to bring a raincoat with you, so you avoid to get caught unprepared.
4) Cammino celeste
The complete path length is 365 km and it connects some places of cult in Italy, Austria and Slovenia. In this article, however, we chose to write only about the Italian tract, which starts from Aquileia and ends in the fascinating monastery on the Monte Lussari.
This path, divided into 10 steps, has a total length of 200 km. To walk it completely it takes from 8 to 10 days. The real peculiarity of this route is the fact that you can stay in the many mountain huts present, running into very different cultures and traditions.
Just keep in mind that for climatic reasons, the route can be covered in full only from June to September. It is almost impassable in many stretches during the rest of the year, because of the snow.
5) Via degli Abati
The Via degli Abati, also known as the "mountain Via Francigena", has very ancient origins. In the past (during the seventh century) this path used to be walked by monks, abbots and pilgrims. The route connects the city of Bobbio with Pavia.
It has a total length of 120 km, which can be divided into ten steps. It takes, on average, 4 days to complete the walk.
Tips for the travelers? Keep in mind that the overall height difference of the route is 6,000 meters, which means that the temperature ranges are very changeable. We advise you to bring a jacket, to cover yourself with to face the cold that you will encounter in altitude. The best time to start the journey is in the months from March to November.
6) Via degli dei
The Via degli Dei, which mustn’t to be confused with the Sentiero degli Dei, is a route that connects Bologna to Florence, through the Apennines. This 130 km long walk has an inimitable charm, linked to the beauty of the landscapes that surround it, to which is added the presence of historical evidence, dating from the time of Etruscans.
The route consists of 5 stages, which can be covered on average in 5 - 6 days. The route is not very difficult. Just keep in mind that most of the time you will not meet anyone along the way, so we recommend you organize with packed meals or plan intermediate stops, booking a seat in the inns and taverns along the way.
7) Cammino dei briganti
The Cammino dei briganti is the shortest of the paths analyzed so far.
It was created as a bottom up project by the local communities, with the purpose to retrace the paths where the brigands were hiding (hence the name).
Its length is about 100 kms and the average walking time is 7 days on foot. Now you are supposed to wonder "why so much?". In facts, in theory you would expect to be able to travel it in half the time. The point is that, the route is quite "wild" and without the necessary precautions, getting lost is very likely. This is the reason why we advise you to read the guides and the information material carefully. Also keep in mind that the best time to venture along this route is the middle seasons. If you go there in winter, it is advisable to bring snowshoes, because the snow makes it very difficult to walk some sections of the route.
At this point, we want to give you some general advice, valid for all walks and for trekking experiences in general.
First of all, you have to keep in mind that embarking on such an adventure without the minimum of physical preparation can be very dangerous. For this reason, we recommend you cut out at least half an hour a day for physical activity. If you do not like any sport in particular, you can also walk and/ or go cycling.
Secondly, it is very important to make sure to plan the route correctly, defining any intermediate steps and booking in the restaurants and/ or accommodation facilities along the way.
Another fundamental aspect, is the preparation of your luggage for your trip (including tents for overnight stay and any packed meals). You can learn about everything you need, by consulting guides, industry blogs and experiences of other travelers.
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