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The Most Breathtaking Hikes in Italy for the Fall

Fall hiking in Italy is a feast for the eyes. Hilltop towns, Renaissance art, vineyards, delicious regional cuisine, and, of course, spectacular fall foliage mean that Italian hiking holidays are about more than just hiking. Plus, add in cooler temperatures and an artist's palette of autumnal colors, and you’ll have an experience that you couldn’t find anywhere else.

Hiking in Italy enables you to see sights and interact with the locals. From the lace-like mountains of the north to the souk-like markets of the south, Italy’s diverse regions enchant hikers. The scenery ranges from the stunning Dolomites to the mix of mountains and sea on the Amalfi Coast. And from the rolling hills of Tuscany to the glistening waters of Lake Garda or Como. Wherever you go, history, art, and great food are always close by, from Basilicata’s Greek ruins to Puglia’s Baroque towns.

The Grand Italian Trail

Coined “the greatest of the great walks” by CNN, this countrywide scenic trek passes six UNESCO World Heritage Sites and 15 national parks. Sentiero Italia crosses the country, starting from Trieste and ending at Santa Teresa Gallura in Sardinia. The 3,831-mile trail joins together Italy’s mountains on a single trekking path, and the trail follows lesser-known destinations. What’s more, it's set to expand into the Path of Parks, which will link Italy’s 25 national parks by 2033. If you fancy seeing Europe’s longest mountain trail but don’t have the time, budget, or energy to walk thousands of miles, the trail is divided into 368 sections, or legs.

Trekking in Molise 

ITALY - OCTOBER 17: Ruins of the Basilica, Saepinum (Altilia), Molise, Italy. Roman civilisation, 1st century BC. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

Molise in southern Italy is a destination so unexplored that even Italians joke it doesn’t exist. Although Molise flies under the radar of travelers and Italians alike, it’s a hidden gem, with remote beaches, mountains, and traditional settlements revealing a slower, more traditional lifestyle. Seven stages of the Grand Italian Trail cut through the region. Bojano to San Marco makes for an easy hike. Small villages are still connected by tratturi, ancient paths used by shepherds for the movement of their flocks. 

Visit: Altilia-Saepinum - the archaeological Roman settlement remains. 

Day hiking at Lago del Turano, Lazio 

Think lakes in Italy, and Lake Como or Garda spring to mind. Few are aware of what Lazio offers beyond Rome. Manmade Lago del Turano is at the foot of Monte Navegna and Monte Cervia Nature Reserve. This hike is set in the verdant Turano Valley. Clustered around its cyan waters, you’ll discover villages that offer a taste of traditional living an hour outside of the capital. Collalto Sabino, with its castle, provides a breathtaking glimpse into the Grand Italian Trail.

The Path of the GODS' trail

SENTIERO DEGLI DEI, CAMPANIA, ITALY - 2016/05/18: The view towards Capri from the Path of the Gods, a hiking trail from Agerola to Positano on the Amalfi coast that is said to run so close to heaven that it is in direct contact with the Gods. (Photo by Leisa Tyler/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The Campania region in southwestern Italy has long been a lure for tourists thanks to the beauty of the Amalfi Coast. The dramatic coastlines where steep cliffs guard over seaside settlements. Rocky ridges form the backbone of the peninsula and provide exhilarating hiking. Il Sentiero Degli Dei trail leads to Nocelle, a hamlet above the quintessential coastal town of Positano with panoramic views and pastel-colored houses. It is a moderately easy walk spanning around five miles of the Amalfi Coast. You’ll be rewarded with views of the cobalt Mediterranean Sea and the distant island of Capri on a clear fall day. 

Visit: Praiano, a historical fishing village. 

Stay: Rest tired feet in the high-design and high-spec Casa Angelina. A member of the leading hotels of the world, it encapsulates barefoot luxury. 

Tuscan hike

Tuscany’s timeless countryside makes for the perfect fall hike. Stay in hilltop towns, sip the famous dark red wines, and bask in the beauty of the rolling Chianti hills at sunset. Nestling between Florence, Siena, and Pisa, the Chianti hills are famed for their beauty. Idyllic churches and olive groves are dotted along the quiet paths.

Start in the Etruscan town of Volterra and finish up in Siena’s wide Campo. This hike takes you from Volterra through the Chianti vineyards and San Gimignano to the Sienese hills and Siena. It’s an easy to moderate hike, consisting of tracks and strade bianche (unmade roads.) 

The 4.5-hour walk from Volterra to San Gimignano is around 10 miles, and you’ll pass through San Donato, which boasts a lovely church. San Gimignano to Colle Val d'Elsa takes the same distance and time and takes you through softer, archetypal Tuscan landscapes of olive groves and vineyards. Cross the small River Foci to the historic upper part of Colle Val d'Elsa. The seven-hour hike from Colle Val d'Elsa to Siena is around 11 miles. 

Stay: Hotel San Lino Volterra is a relaxed stone-building hotel. Only a few minutes from Volterra Cathedral and the Roman Theatre, it is a good base from which to explore. 

Hotel Bel Soggiorno San Gimignano is run by the Gigli family who has owned it for several generations. With a welcoming atmosphere, the hotel offers vineyard views. Some of the best are enjoyed by the restaurant, which attracts locals. 

Lake Garda hike

MALCESINE, ITALY - JULY 30: A hiker looks down from Monte Baldo above Lake Garda on July 30, 2014 near Malcesine, Italy. Lake Garda (in Italian: Lago di Garda) is the largest lake in Italy and is a popular destination for tourist, who are attracted to its medieval towns, and for bikers and paragliders. (Photo by Matej Divizna/Getty Images)

A classic Garda walking route starts in Malcesine. Take a cable car to the summit of Monte Baldo known as the ‘Garden of Europe’. You'll discover a path above the treelines with a 360-degree panorama. Towards the end of the route, you’ll enjoy more breathtaking views – including snow-capped Alpine peaks in the fall – before returning by cable car to the lakeside.

Stay: Hotel Gardenia al Lago. Run by the Arosio family for three generations, old-world charm meets elegant décor, and the hotel has a lakeside beach bar

The Ultimate Hike

The Sentiero dei Parchi is the new hiking trail uniting Italy. The €35m, 13-year plan will extend Italy's existing Grand Italian Route by 1000km. When complete, the new route will be twice the length of the US Appalachian Trail and over eight times the length of Spain’s Camino de Santiago trek, making it the longest in the world. 

Amanda Akien

Amanda Akien graduated from The University of Wollongong, Australia with an MA in Journalism with Distinction. Her writing has appeared in international travel magazines, as well as The Guardian newspaper. Although Amanda is based in the UK, she has traveled throughout Italy, even interning at a major modeling agency during Milan Fashion Week. Her favorite region is Tuscany - she loves Florence and is also partial to a glass of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo!