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The variety on offer for a walking holiday in Italy is simply amazing. From the mountains of the Dolomites and the Alps, down to the lakes, across to the islands, and along the Amalfi coast – whatever type of holiday you’re after, Italy delivers it in stunning form. Add to this the delicious food and wine, and the warm welcome offered by the locals, and you have the perfect recipe for an unforgettable holiday.
Here are a few of our favourite Italian trips for 2019. For the full programme of tours in this beautiful country, visit our Italy homepage.
The Cilento National Park may not be quite as well known as its more famous and popular neighbour, Amalfi, but it offers a huge amount for a varied and rewarding walking tour. There is a wild kind of beauty here - rocky ridges set between small picturesque inlets and richly scented pinewoods backing onto wide sandy beaches. This 5-day Cilento tour is both along the coast and inland across low mountains, through pristine natural areas and attractive countryside, with all its cultural treasures - rural chapels, ancient farm houses, old water mills and charming medieval villages.
Find out more.
Available as a 6, 8 or 11 day tour, our Classic Amalfi Coast walks encapsulate everything that makes an Italian holiday so special. The entire coast has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and a walking holiday here makes it easy to see why. The stunning views, culture, food and wine combine to create an unforgettable experience. The towns, villages and towers that cling to the cliffs can be a riotous mix of vibrant colours and pastel shades, and provide the backdrop to a truly special walking tour.
Find out more.
Coming soon – we’re currently putting together a new 11-day trip that combines the best of our Cilento and Amalfi trips. This will be available to book early in 2019 so watch this space!
The Dolomites are like no other mountains in Europe, and provide a completely different backdrop to the Alps’ jagged peaks. The Dolomites are dominated by continuous sheer cliffs, forming giant chiselled monuments. Below the mountains lie green meadows full of wild flowers, orchards and vineyards. The Dolomites are also an area of fascinating history, as they were heavily fought over during WW1. This 8-day trip encompasses an exhilarating mix of high mountain paths, lush meadows, pretty villages and mountain restaurants.
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Sardinia is a beautiful island, with a unique mix of Italian and Spanish cultures. Walking from the black mountains of Montiferru to the Sinis wetlands you’ll discover beaches, bays, headlands, ancient ruins and historical sites. This is also a great trip if you’re interested in wildlife, and in particular, birds – as you’ll encounter large colonies of Grey Herons, Pink Flamingoes and a wealth of other bird life. This is a gentle walk that takes in some spectacular scenery, lovely villages and plenty of places to enjoy delicious Mediterranean cuisine.
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This walk threads together some of the most attractive towns and villages in Tuscany. It’s a perfect introduction to the region and for people who love museums and galleries, Gothic and Romanesque architecture, there is plenty to see and do. You have plenty of time for attraction visits on most days. However the emphasis of the tour is to enjoy the countryside, the rolling vineyards, the poppies in spring and the wild cyclamen in autumn. This is a relatively gentle tour that is suitable for those who are new to walking. More experienced walkers will also enjoy the classic Tuscan landscape of small but sometimes steep hills, olive groves and vineyards.
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The beauty of Lake Como has to be seen to be believed. The majestic mountains rolling down to the shores of the crystal clear blue water, the charming towns and villages dotted along the shoreline, ancient Roman villas and the majestic hotels built for wealthy European and American tourists during the Victorian era all add up to a landscape like no other. This lovely trip starts at the historic town of Como before taking in all that the area has to offer over the next 8 days, including hilltop ascents, villages, churches and ferry crossings.
Find out more.
Finding the right route on a walking or cycling trip in a new environment is not always straight forward. The maps and route notes that you receive on Sherpa's self guided cycling and walking holidays allow you to take the right decision on the trail. Another useful aide are trail blazes, as writer Richard Mellor describes in this article.
By Richard Mellor
Do you ever wander about waymarks (or trail blazes, as they’re called outside of the UK)?
I mostly spend my hikes looking for these symbols, feeling either triumph when one appears, or a growing trepidation that I’ve gone astray amid their continued absence.
But occasionally – as with this section of Sherpa’s Cilento Coast & Mountain walk that I am currently undertaking [red. May 2017], following a high ridge down from mighty Monte Stella, the sea glittering far ahead – I have a rare certainty of being on-track, and can instead ponder these universal hiking signposts.
The Cilento’s paths mostly utilise the classic red and white bars, plus some same-coloured wooden arrows. To install these, trail blazers must therefore have had to stride long sections lugging a large tin of red paint, a large tin of white, brushes for each and, for the arrows, lots of nails to sink into trees or rocks.
They’ll also have been needing all the stuff I carry: water, extra clothing, maps, food (my main luggage fortunately was transferred by the Sherpa team).
Which means – I realise while crossing butterfly-rich heather, the stone-built village of Galdo now visible ahead – they’re probably hauling heavy loads around for long distances, and often up and down steep hills. Ouch. Suddenly, waymakers seem like heroes.
Last year I hiked in northwestern Spain, and let’s just say the waymarks were intermittent. At certain forks invisible on my map, there they, er, weren’t.
At the time, I blamed wild boars or rogue farmers. But now I’m imagining that perhaps the daubers simply ran out of paint, or were conserving their last precious blobs for a tougher junction.
Who are these blazers anyway? Is waymarking an official thing, only to be done by official people? I make a mental note to find out this evening. (Wikipedia, it later turns out, suggests a mixture of volunteer and local authorities)
Also, how often are waymarks updated – some smudges here are very faded, yet others so fresh I swear I can smell paint – and who decides? Do they travel in pai...
Hang on a second. I’m now entering Galdo and, now I think of it, when was the last waymark? Uh-oh. Let the worrying commence…
Richard describes the panoramic day walk along the Monte Stella ridge on day 4 of the Cilento Coast & Mountain walking holiday. Superb views of the Amalfi Coast and Capri, an abandoned fortress, and charming historical villages like Celso, Cannicchio and Galdo characterise this day’s walk.
Like to know more about the Cilento Coast route in a remote section of Italy? Find the trip details, grading and cost of the Cilento Coast & Mountain walk now.
Richard Mellor is a freelance writer and copywriter on mainly travel related topics. He gives lectures on journalism and you can read his articles in Metro, The Times, The Guardian, Telegraph Online and many more. Early May 2017 he walked solo Sherpa Expeditions’ 5-day Cilento Coast & Mountain trip in Italy. Follow Richard on Twitter.
Planning a trip to Italy and looking for holiday ideas that you can undertake fairly soon? We have created an overview of the first trips travelling to Italy this year. You can be packing your bags and hitting the Italian trails in spring undertaking one of these pleasant walking holidays in the land of pizza and the Romans.
The itineraries travel across the country and from the first of March, be among the firsts this year to enjoy the Italian walking paths, sip from your cappuccino on a quiet terrace in the first beams of sun in spring, visit ancient Roman sites without the crowds, and follow the trails of the Cilento Coast, Lake Como, Amalfi, Sardinia and Cinque Terre.
The great lakes of northern Italy have been a popular holiday destination since Roman times, evidenced by the array of lavish villas and sumptuous gardens which line their shores. When you visit Italy in March, April or May, you can enjoy full flexibility on this itinerary that uses the old Roman tracks. They cross the mountains on the west side of Lake Como, exploring forested valleys, mountaintops and traditional villages. Still in use today by the locals, they have been transformed into a series of way marked trails offering breath-taking views.
>> Learn more about the 8-days Lake Como Rambling holiday
A brand-new trip in Italy to the less known side of Amalfi was launched in March 2017. Most visitors to Italy’s world famous coastal strip do not continue beyond Vietri sul Mare, the Amalfi’s easternmost point. Go a few miles further south though, and you will find Cilento: the country’s largest National Park. Richly scented pinewoods, mediaeval farm houses and traditional water mills remain largely ‘undisturbed’ by the 21st century.
>> Learn more about the 5-days Cilento Coast and Mountain walking holiday
Few trips in Italy take in such a diverse combination of iconic highlights and stunning seascapes, making it impossible to escape the hordes of crowds that head to ‘Nastro Azzurro’ (Blue Ribbon) in the summer months. But, travel between March and May and you will have the Amalfi Coast virtually entirely to yourself.
>> Learn more about the 11-days Classic Amalfi Coast walking holiday, or check out the 6-days or the Classic Amalfi Coast - 8 Days options
The Cinque Terre (Five Lands) is Italian Riviera at its best. The coastline of the Cinque Terre in north-western Italy is as stunning as Amalfi, yet somehow even more colourful! For centuries artists and poets have praised the tiny aquamarine inlets that serve as fishing harbours and the ancient terraces rising steeply out of the coastal crags in words and pictures. You can opt for the gentle coastal strolls or strenuous hikes into the surroundings hills. Visit churches and viewpoints, walk through cliff-side vineyards and pine forests, while reserving ample time to feast on the rich Italian cuisine.
>> Learn more about the 6-days Cinque Terre Villages walking holiday
The weather in Sardinia in March and April is often already relatively warm and pleasant for undertaking outdoor activities. When you visit the Italian island in early spring, stay around the coast to enjoy gentle walks and explore secluded bays and ancient watchtowers. Taste the clear spring water, spot birds like Grey Herons and Pink Flamingos, and watch the sunset turn the cliffs to shades of yellow and pink.
>> Learn more about the 8-days self guided walking holiday A Saunter in Sardinia
For more information on your options for visiting Italy in March, April and May and for booking details, you can download the trip notes on each trip’s page or contact our team of travel experts by phone or email.
For anyone wanting to experience what is beyond Italy’s most popular stretch of coastline, from 2017 you can explore a new part of Italy’s south: the Cilento National Park. A new walking holiday takes you to the lesser-known Cilento Coast, on the Gulf of Salerno’s southern shore, the natural extension of the famous Amalfi Coast.
There is more to the Amalfi Coast than Positano, Ravello, endless sips of limoncello and crowded walking paths.
Concentrating on Cilento, Italy’s largest national park, the new self guided trip is a short walking break designed to appeal to anyone who wants to experience ‘the other side of Amalfi’. A place which in many ways exists in its own time warp, little visited Cilento remains largely undisturbed by the 21st century.
In Roman Times, Cilento was known as Campania Felix – or ‘happy land’!
The walk takes you along rocky ridges, richly scented pinewoods and centuries-old olive trees and intersperses with quaint fishing villages, medieval farm houses and traditional water mills. Stay in an ancient convent and enjoy quiet and remote walking in a stunning, yet less known, pocket of Italy. Highlights include:
- Take in the wild beauty of the Cilento Coast, with rocky ridges set between small picturesque inlets and richly scented pinewoods backing onto wide sandy beaches and serene Italian fishing villages
- Witness the traditional way of life as you visit medieval borghi (fortified hilltop villages), rural chapels and ancient farm houses in Cilento National Park
- Enjoy sumptuous, drenched-in-olive-oil banquets – homemade pasta, locally sourced ingredients and wines from the somewhat unusual (but very amenable) aglianico grape
- Follow the old mule track to the ‘Valley of the Mills’, named after the many medieval watermills that once dotted the course of the stream
- Cross the ‘Alta Via’ along the Monte Stella ridge, past the Chapel of Monte Stella and through chestnut woods to the abandoned, pre-Roman fortress of Castelluccio
- Admire panoramic views of the Amalfi Coast and the island of Capri – on a clear day you may even catch a glimpse of Sicily if you look south!
- Visit the archaeological site Paestum – famous for its Doric-order temples, the museum in Italy preserves a unique Diver’s Tomb, a prime example of Greek funerary painting.
Take the new Cilento Coast and Mountain trip in Italy either as a standalone short break or as an extension to our 8 and 11-day Amalfi itineraries.
For more information on Cilento National Park and to speak with one of our travel consultants, there are various ways to contact us.