Walking holidays in Italy are a very popular way of getting to know the countryside and indeed the country. Italy is a great place for walking because it has such lovely mountain and hill scenery. Being up high the heat, even in summer, is bearable. The food is wonderful and Italians, especially fellow walkers, are easy to talk to. What more could you want.
There are all sorts of walking holidays Italy can offer you. For some people the high mountains are the attraction and trekking in Italy, especially in the Alps can offer similar challenges to trekking in more remote and difficult to reach areas. For others, including me, there is no need to go so high to experience all the delights that a walking holiday can bring.
Let me just give you the story of one day out and you'll see why it is such fun. I decided to explore the Region of Liguria, though had I gone anywhere else I am sure my experience would have been more or less the same.
Our destination was the mountain of Monte Gottero. It is not the highest peak in Liguria, at only 1639 metres, but is in an exceptionally beautiful part of the region and well worth the walk because of the fabulous views of the hilly forested countryside all around.
To make the most of the day we camped for the night in a religious sanctuary in order to get an early start the next morning. The priest allowed us a little corner of the grounds for our two tents and we spent a rather chilly night there. It is important to remember that even in the heat of an Italian summer the nights can be cold as you go up high. It's difficult to imagine when you are down in the sweltering heat of the seaside thinking about your walk.
After breakfast in a nearby bar we set off and took a gentle path past some huge windmills. They are controversial additions to the countryside and arouse strong feelings for and against. They gave us plenty to talk about as we continued up the slope.
The Italians in our party were glad to tell us about the debates that had gone on before and during the building of them. This is the kind of local knowledge that adds to the interest of the walk itself.
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Apart from talking we also enjoyed moments of silence with our frequent stops to eat wild raspberries. They were everywhere along the sides of the path and I couldn't believe they hadn't already been eaten they were so delicious. Italians are great lovers of wild mushrooms, too and, although here the picking of them was forbidden, I learned a lot about the ones we passed and noted the details for another time.
The walk itself was under trees for a time that gave us a little welcome shelter from the sun. Finally we came into the open with the most glorious views. When we finally reached the top the view was 360 degrees and luckily the air was clear that day and we could see for miles and had fun picking out the small towns and villages we knew that looked so different from up there.
The most interesting part of the day was meeting a fellow walker and his son. They had already been to the top, had their picnic, and were about to make their way back down. The father was 94 years old and had lived in the area all his life.
He was really funny and pointed out the place he had lived as a young man and told us that although the villages all looked the same to us the people in them saw themselves as all very different from each other. The young men often used to meet on the slopes of the hill and fight each other over real or imagined slights, or disputes about women. He laughed as he recalled them and remembered how ridiculous it had all been.
He went on to tell us about the war and how these beautiful, peaceful hills had been the scene of savage fighting between the partisans and the Nazi occupiers. The Battle of Gottero that took place in January 1945 is still remembered and commemorated every year.
We shook hands and took some photos to prove that we really had met a 94 year old at the top of Monte Gottero then waved them on their way down.
We then had a lovely picnic in the sunshine and cooling breeze, but got another surprise when suddenly we could see a bank of mist climbing steadily up the side of the mountain and within a few minutes the view had completely disappeared and we were apparently in a cloud.
It was another useful reminder that, however peaceful and safe you feel in the warmth of the afternoon sun, the weather can change suddenly. The temperature can drop, and the mist can obscure your path even on a safe and fairly gentle walk. Once you go up high you always have to be prepared for anything.
The great thing about a day's walking is that no two days are the same. Walking is walking, and you can have a few days in countryside where the views are fairly similar, but the days are very different. There is time on a walk to talk, think, stop and explore, meet people, get to know the people you are with better than before.
There is much more to a walking trip than just the walking and I can strongly recommend it as a fantastic type of holiday. To make life really easy, there are many all inclusive holidays to Italy and all over Europe with top companies who take all the hassle out of organizing a trip. They will book your hotels in the best places imaginable! They will arrange for your luggage to be transported for you, they will give you interesting itineraries to follow, and you will be able to phone them at any time when you are away for help and advice, this is important, as some walks are more strenuous than others, and things can go wrong! Other types of walks to consider are those which are led by expert guides, these are fascinating, as there is nothing quite like walking with someone who can point out things of interest.
On our site we have a mixture of wonderful walking holidays in Europe, so do browse around, each company has it's own style, so there is a lot to compare all under one roof!
Tell us about your walking in Europe holiday experiences, (or anywhere else in the world). I'm sure there are many interesting and funny stories out there! We'll be more than happy to post these on our guest blogger's page. It's a great way for you to extend your readership. Go to our Guest Blogger's Post under Pages for more information.
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Graeme at the Adventure Travel Shop