Italy's beaches and art-rammed cities are often overshadowed by the country's untamed mountains and vertiginous coastlines.

Italy is a boot made for walking, from the cliff-hanging trails of Amalfi to the huge granite spires of the Dolodrome. Eight of the country's best hikes have information on how to tackle them.

What you need to know about hiking in Italy

The best time to hike in Italy is in the spring and early autumn, when the weather is cooler and the temperature is not as hot. You will need to book your bed in advance if you want to go to the rifugi in the national parks. Wild camping is a gray area, but sometimes permissible, if you avoid tourist hot spots and nature reserves. Arrive at dusk and leave by sunrise if you do.

Local and regional tourist office websites can provide you with information on where to walk. Each of the country's 25 national parks has a walking trail. Tabacco has over one thousand hiking maps and apps.

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Panoramic landscape of trekker relaxing on the mountains
Reach heights of up to 4061m on the Sella-Herbetet Traverse © ueuaphoto / Shutterstock

Sella-Herbetet Traverse, Gran Paradiso, Piedmont

Best Alpine traverse 

A 13 mile round trip is demanding.

The Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso i n the Graian Alps is a must visit if you are into the Alps in a big way. This wilderness of piercing blue lakes, deep forests, rushing rivers and some of Italy's highest, gnarliest mountains is located against the French border.

The one-day loop trail starts in Valnontey. The Alta Via 2 goes up to the Rifugio Sella, a former hunting lodge of King Vittorio Emanuele II. There is a traverse between here and Casolari dell'Herbetet where you can cling on to a length of chain for protection.

The journey back to the village from the casolari is downhill all the way. On steep patches of grass you should be able to hear and see marmots. You have to be surefooted and have a head for heights to tackle this one.

Couple of hikers standing and admiring stunning beauty of impressive jagged peaks of Cadini di misurina mountain group in Dolomites, Italy
Tre Cime de Lavaredo are three colossal rocky peaks in the Dolomites © SPavlo Glazkov / Shutterstock

Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Dolomites

Best Dolomite hike

A round trip of six miles.

She was generous with Italy in the looks department, but she went the extra mile in the northeast of the country. Some of Europe's most compelling walking country can be found here with its limestone spires, buttresses and towers. If you're going to do a single day hike here, you should go to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo circuit.

The trail begins at Rifugio Auronzo and goes up to Rifugio Lavaredo, which has a view of the Tre Cime. Avoid afternoon thundershowers and get an early start to appreciate the trail at its quietest best. You can access the route from Misurina.

Trekking route from Agerola to Nocelle in Amalfi coast, called
Try trekking the route from Agerola to Nocelle on the Amalfi coast, called "The Path of the Gods" © Francesca Sciarra / Shutterstock

Sentiero degli Dei, Amalfi Coast

Best sun-kissed stroll

It's easy to do 8 km one way.

There is a heavenly canvas of southern Italian landscapes, with sensational views of the rugged, densely wooded Lattari mountains that dive down to the Mediterranean and candy colored villages tumbling down hillsides. Why rush when you can nail it in half a day? You can get a map of the walk from the tourist office.

The path that leads from Positano to the ancient fishing village of Praiano is beautiful and easy to navigate. You'll walk past terraced hillsides and lemon orchards. A flight of stairs will take you to Arienzo, where you can eat lunch and drink at the beach club. The sunsets in this area are different.

Corno Grande, Abruzzo

Best mountain climb

9 km round trip, 6-7 hours, moderate, and demanding.

The highest peak in the Apennines is 2192m Corno Grande, which is located in the Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga. It is visible all over Abruzzo in the heart of Italy.

You can take the via normale from the main car park at Campo Imperatore, and it will take you 782m to reach the summit. You can see rippling mountains and the Adriatic, as well as a glimpse of Europe's southernmost glacier at the top of the mountain.

The alternative ascent that zigzags directly to the summit is a much tougher climb. You might see a royal eagle wheeling overhead in the quiet of the early morning or late afternoon. The best time to go on this hike is in the summer when the mountain is free of snow.

Female tourist walking towards Corniglia village, Beautiful town in Cinque Terre coast
You'll find some of the best views of the pastel towns decorating the cliffs of Cinque Terre from the Sentiero Azzurro © MStudioImages / Getty Images

Sentiero Azzurro, Cinque Terre

Best coastal ramble

One way is easy-moderate.

The photos you have seen are jaw- dropping. The five precariously perched fishing villages painted in ice-cream colors look as if they will topple off the cliff with the merest puffs of wind. The Blue Trail used to go past vines, olive groves, forests and terraced hillsides along the coastline cliffs. There are some sections of the route that are currently not accessible because of the slide. The website gives a breakdown of which sections are open.

It is best to walk from Riomaggiore to Monterosso. The first section of the trail, Riomaggiore-Manarola, is likely to be closed until at least 2024. You will need to purchase a card for the national park in order to use it.

Selvaggio Blu, Sardinia

Best hardcore multi-day trek

It takes 45 km one way for 4-7 days.

If other hikes aren't hitting the off-the-radar sweet spot, then this trek along Sardinia's ragged east coast is for you. You'd better believe it, the Selvaggio Blu is Italy's toughest trek. This is a never-to-be-forgotten, away-from- the-world hike that requires mountaineer experience. There are no signs or water, trail finding is difficult even with a gps device, and the going can be very tiring.

It's worthwhile. One of Italy's most isolated coastlines, with deep gorges, impenetrable vegetation, cliffs dipping up to 800m, and unparalleled views of the Mediterranean, is the location of the multi-day hike. Past silent coves and dramatic overhangs, old shepherds' and charcoal burner's paths weave. You can camp under the stars at remote beaches and caves. If you're not familiar with the parts, you will need a guide.

ikers walking at sunset on Stromboli volcano, Aeolian Islands, Sicily, Italy. Ash and volcanic rock are the landscape of this climb.
The climb to Stromboli volcano's crater is a favorite among outdoor lovers in Sicily © Marco Crupi / Shutterstock

Stromboli, Aeolian Islands, Sicily

Best volcano ascent 

Moderate-demanding 7.8 km round trip.

Stromboli's perfect pyramid of a volcano is the best way to see the smoldering beauty of Sicily's Aeolian Islands. It definitely has the wow factor. You don't get to go up to a permanently active cone every day. Stromboli is a whippersnapper that was formed 40,000 years ago. One of Sicily's not-to-be-missed experiences is climbing to its crater.

The hike is as varied as it is exciting, with wild capers and Sicilian broom on the trail. It provides amazing panoramas over Stromboli town, as well as starker, high level elevation landscapes that contrast with dramatic sea views. You can see the fireworks at the summit at sunset and then go back to town by flashlight in the dark. You can walk freely to 400m, but you will need a guide if you want to go higher. This climb, though beautiful, comes with additional risk because this is an active volcano with a major eruption in July.

A woman walks along a path that travels beside the archeological ruins in the Appian Way of Roma
Trekkers on Via Appia Antica will find numerous ancient Roman ruins still standing alongside the Roman Empire's first highway © ValerioMei / Shutterstock

Via Appia Antica, Rome-Brindisi

Best historic hike

One way, 212-3 hours, easy moderate.

The Appian Way leads to Rome. The first mighty highway of the Roman Empire was built between 312 BC and 190 BC to connect Rome to the southern Adriatic coast. The path is named after the man who laid the first stone.

This stretch gives you a glimpse of what travel would have been like hundreds of years ago, as you tread cobblestones polished smooth by thousands of cart wheels.

All of Rome's cultural big hitters are not in the center. You can see the romantic ruins of villas where Rome's elite lived, as well as the above-ground tombs and mausoleums.

The walk begins at the 5th-century Porta San Sebastiano, which is the largest of the gates in the Aurelian Walls. The Catacombe di San Callisto is where St Peter encountered a vision of Jesus, and the Villa di Mass is where thousands of Christians were killed.

The article was published in August of 2019.