Join a local hiking group in Italy

Trekking clubs in Italy

I once saw a leaflet at the hotel front desk for kayaking in Siracusa, Sicily and decided to call the number.

I had a great time the next day kayaking (just me, the guide, and a buddy of his), and at the end of it my guide invited me to join his local hiking club on an outing the following day.

Even though I had a hotel booked in the next town down the line for that night, I immediately said "Yes!" Then I rearranged my plans.

This hike was with Sicilians, and Siclians love eating, so they showed me the best berries to pick along the path and how to crack open almonds straight from the tree with a rock without squashing the meat inside. They also shared their food and wine with me when we stopped for lunch.

When we came across the 1,100-year-old ruins of a Byzantine village high upon the forested mountainside, it turned out each hiker was an avid amateur academic in some obscure field.

An architect pointed to the remains of house foundations and reconstructed the entire village in our minds.

A student of medieval cultures populated it with typical characters from the Dark Ages.

A man passionate about church history explained the strange rites and rituals that would have been performed in the pocket-sized church.

The entire day was free—I was their guest—including lunch (I had packed a small sandwich of my own, but it didn't pass muster with the group, so they foisted a ton of their own food on me).

After our hike, we piled into the shared cars we had driven up to the hills and went to a gelateria.

They wouldn't even let me pay for the cone.

Best day of my trip.

How to find local hiking groups

You cannot, of course, always rely upon serendipity to find a local hiking group.

You best bet is to ask at the local tourist office.

Also, look at the tourist office and/or at bulletin boards at the town hall for postings about trekking groups or planned escursioni.

In particular, look for the name Club Alpino Italiano, or C.A.I. ( This is the premier Italian association geared toward aiding hikers and walkers. You can even join online before leaving. (Among other benefits, membership also usually gets you discounts at Italy's network of mountain huts.)

One-day Italy hikes

Day hikes in the Cinque Terre

Hiking the Cinque Terre
Duration: 12.5 hours
Cost: $117 per person
Book: Reserve it

Cinque Terre Hiking Day Trip from Florence

Join the only tour that takes you to the Cinque Terre on a one-day hiking trip from Florence. Hiking is the only way to truly experience the magic of the Cinque Terre. Take a break from the bustle of the city and hike this UNESCO World Heritage-listed site. It's a unique and memorable experience, exploring the only unspoilt survivor of the genuine Italian Riviera. Led by your knowledgeable guide you will trek scenic trails and wander through vineyards and olive groves, over stone walls and along a spectacular coastline. This tour includes coach transportation, rail and boat travel between villages, entry in to Cinque Terre National Park and a delicious lunch...

Duration: All day
Private: $272–$631 per person
Book: Reserve it

Cinque Terre: Day Trip from Florence - Private Tour

A cultural landscape of great scenic and cultural value, the Cinque Terre is an UNESCO World Heritage Site celebrated for its incredible beauty. This full-day excursion departs from and returns to your Florence hotel, and offers a convenient way to discover the colors and flavors of this fascinating area. You will meet your guide in Riomaggiore, the southern-most of the "Five Lands." From here you'll follow the Via dell'Amore (Road of Love), a scenic path that overhangs the rocky coastline far below. It leads to Manarola, second smallest of the villages and probably the oldest; the cornerstone of Manarola's church of San Lorenzo was laid in 1338. Corniglia is next. Perched on top of a promontory, Corniglia is the only one of the five villages without direct access to the sea. It is enclosed on three sides by picturesque, terraced vineyards while the fourth side descends steeply to the blue waters of the Mediterranean. After a guided visit of the village and its park, you'll stop for a tasty lunch of local dishes and wines at the Cantina de Mananan (included in the price). Last but certainly not least is Vernazza, the most picture-perfect of the five...

Duration: All day
Private: from $719 per group
Book: Reserve it

Discovering the Cinque Terre: Full-day Excursion

Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore -- each with its own distinct character, set high above the rocky cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean Sea - these five picturesque villages comprise the celebrated Cinque Terre. This breathtaking place was proclaimed a UNESCO Wold Heritage site in 1997 and it is the perfect backdrop for an entire day spent exploring the area. Excursion starts from Rapallo or Santa Margherita Ligure where you meet your guide and head by train to Corniglia on a train. After exploring this little village, you hike through the famed terraced vineyards and pine forests all the way to Volastra, and then descend to the seaside town of Manarola. Following a break for lunch, you take the celebrated Via dell'Amore (Road of Love) that connects Manarola and Riomaggiore where you catch a ferry to Monterosso. This is a wonderful chance to admire the beauty of the area from the sea and take some stunning photos to treasure for years to come! Monterosso is the largest of the Cinque Terre and has frequent trains back to Rapallo and Santa Margherita Ligure...

Day hikes in Tuscany

Duration: 8 hours
Cost: $202 per person
Book: Reserve it

Private Tour: Guided Hike in Tuscany with Transport from Siena

With your expert guide, enjoy a scenic, full-day adventurous hike through the beautiful Chianti region in Tuscany, full of lush vineyards and quaint villages. At the end of the hike, your friendly guide will lead you to a spot where you can relax and enjoy a picnic of cured meats, locally grown vegetables, breads and cheeses, accompanied by a glass of wine. Continue in the afternoon to stroll the Via Francigena path, an ancient pilgrimage road said to link Rome to Canterbury in England, ending at the medieval hill town of San Gimignano to walk around its UNESCO World Heritage-listed city center...


Tips & links

Useful links & resources
Club Alpino Italiano (Italy's trekking association)

Where to book Italy activities and experiences
Book ahead

While for some activities you can just show up, this is one travel item you really should try to reserve in advance.

Popular activities like cooking classes can sell out.

Many are available only on certain days of the week, so it pays to know that you'll have to set aside, say, Tuesday morning for that guided market walk with a local cookbook author.

Many of the best activities are available by advance booking or appointment only—particularly wineries. Some vineyards welcome walk-ins, true, but many more will give you a cellar tour and wine tasting only if you call ahead a few days (and those tend to be the ones most liberal with the free samples).

If you have your heart set on dining in a particular restaurant, go ahead and call ahead,even if it's just earlier on the same day—though a day ahead is preferable. I have found that a corrollary of Muphy's Law applies to this aspect of travel. Any restaurant I am particularly keen on but blithely assume I can just waltz into will inevitably be filled to the brim: no tables available. However, half the time when I do book a table in advance I'll end up being the only guy in the place (nor near enough for my advance booking to feel like overkill). Still, better safe than sorry. Reserving a table is quick and painless; getting turned away at the door can be crushing.

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For more info
Club Alpino Italiano (Italy's trekking association)

Where to book Italy activities and experiences

Useful links
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