If the ups and downs of mountain trails and picturesque forests lure you, Italy will seem a land of fantasy. Hiking, backpacking, and trekking ventures in this exciting country are not your usual organized tours with bus transportation, first-rate hotels, meals and guides. What you will get here is the freedom of a true down-to-earth, under-the-stars, roughing-it adventure - though there are also hundreds of easy one-day walking routes to be found as well.
Italy offers some of the finest and most varied walking in Europe - from the gentle, mysteriously beautiful hills of Etruria with their picturesque walled towns and villages, to the dramatically eroded peaks of the Dolomites; from the splendid snowy skyline of the Gran Paradiso to the long ridge of the Apennines with their great diversity of flora, extensive views and, for mountains, fairly stable weather conditions; from the hot lava flows of Mount Etna to the wildlife-filled National Park of Calabria. The relatively mild climate makes Italy a perfect location for year-round hiking and backpacking. Spring is the time for educational hiking. With the aid of local maps, you can easily combine tourist sights with leisurely walks and secluded trails. During the summer months, the northern regions with their beautiful streams and panoramic scenery will add breathtaking excitement to backpacking vacations. When fall rolls around, the colorful flora found in the central wooded areas, such as the famed National Park of Abruzzo, will have you wondering whether it is Italy you are exploring or Canada. While these are among the favorite walking areas, there are thousands of others. This guide tells you the details about the best of them all, with suggested daily itineraries, what to look out for, the flora and fauna, the risks, and much more.