Nature & OutdoorNature & Outdoor

Top Hikes in Italy: the Alta Via – Trail of the Parks

by /// May 30, 2022
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes



The “Alta Via Trail of the Parks” is 340 miles long and it crosses eight National Natural Parks along the Apennine ridge that divides the regions of Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, and Marche.

This is, in short, the “Alta Via Trail of the Parks”, a route divided into 27 stages that will let you discover the flora and fauna of the Italian Apennines.

A large open-air gym where hikers of all levels will be able to appreciate the beauty of the Italian mountains in a well-equipped path, dotted with refreshment points and shelters.

Prato Spilla (Monchio delle corti, Parma)
Prato Spilla (Monchio delle corti, Parma) | Photo © Alta Via Trail of the Parks

A fantastic ride through the northern Apennines, where a succession of landscapes and mountain peaks.

Discover the nature and culture of one of Italy’s most fascinating mountain areas, the border between continental European and Mediterranean climates.

Glacial cirques, lakes immersed in high-altitude meadows, endless forests and torrents, volcanic cliffs and gypsum crags: not only is the Alta Via a way to experience the varied Apennine landscape, but it allows you to do so in the simplest way, that is, by walking slowly.

The richness of the landscapes is matched by that of cultural remains left over the centuries that you will be able to see along the way: ancient roads and humpback bridges, monasteries, abbeys and hermitages.

In addition to that, it is also possible to witness the humble traces left over the centuries by peasant life in the harsh mountain environment: ruins of houses and stables, shelters for woodcutters and shepherds, charcoal pits and ancient chestnut groves.

Remains of a civilisation that in ancient times organised the areas of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines as a gateway to the Italian peninsula and at the same time as a resource from which to draw fundamental resources.

Parco della Vena del Gesso Romagnola, Da Tossignano verso la Riva San Biagio
Parco della Vena del Gesso Romagnola | Photo © Fiorenzo Rossetti

Walking along the Alta Via – Trail of the Parks today is like stepping into Nature reclaiming its reign, telling the history of a traditional mountain economy, that for centuries exerted strong pressure on the environment, and that today has disappeared, leaving vast uninhabited areas free to follow their natural evolution.

But the Alta Via Trail of the Parks is not an itinerary that must be tackled all at once, and can also be done in a few stages while enjoying many events organized along its route.

For all those who intend to walk along the Alta Via in single stretches, and only for a few days, useful publications have been made available where you can find the general map of the entire route, the detailed cartography for stages, and places where to book.

Map - The Alta Via - Trail of the Parks
The Alta Via – Trail of the Parks

For hikers who love to combine nature and technology, we would like to point out that the GPS tracks of the entire trail are available for free, along with a dedicated app that will help you find your way along the route.

If you want to check the route of the Alta Via Trail of the Parks from home, with all the information available, we suggest you access the dedicated site where there are also cycle routes.

If you want to plan a day or a holiday, we advise you to take a look at the connections with public transport along the entire path. Alta Via Trail of the Parks is also part of the European project Hiking Europe which led to the development of 6 tourist routes, thanks to the collaboration with the Italian National Parks.

Carpegna Mount (Emilia-Romagna / Marche)
Carpegna Mount (Emilia-Romagna / Marche) | Photo © Davide Frattini

For those interested, we want to point out that the Alta Via – Trail of the Parks can also be tackled by Mountain Bike thanks to local cycle excursion groups that created a path for bikes.

A magnificent 672-kilometer-long crossing, to be covered in 28 stages. The route can also be covered by train, which makes it easy to reach the start and end, as well as a couple of intermediate points along the entire route.

So if you love silence, nature and you can’t wait to escape from the city chaos; if you like to sleep in unpolluted places, far from inhabited areas, cellular networks and the comforts of city life, Alta Via Trail of the Parks is the experience you need, with fascinating views, spectacular night skies in the mountains of our Apennines.


Walter Manni

Explorer and Adventurer: loves sailing the oceans, climbing the highest mountains and surfing on the waves of the web

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