Top 9 Most Challenging Hikes in Italy

Are you passionate about mountains and hiking? Do you love to get away from the traffic and confusion of the city and take refuge in nature? More and more people find peace and quiet in the mountains, walking along paths and trails completely surrounded by nature. In Italy, you can find many trekking paths, suitable for any level of difficulty.

In this article, we want to focus on the most difficult ones, suitable only for experienced hikers! Here is a list of the most challenging hikes in Italy!

1. Way of St. Benedict, Umbria

It is a route of about 300 km that begins in Umbria, in Norcia, and descends along the Lazio region to Montecassino, in the Liri Valley. Not only a trek in the middle of nature, but also a spiritual trek, which touches the three most important Benedictine places: Norcia, Subiaco, and Montecassino.

This walk develops along 16 stages, so it takes 16 days to walk it and has a medium level of difficulty. You don’t need to be an expert hiker, but you need at least to be a bit trained and able to walk a lot and for many days. Along the way, you can sleep in monasteries and abbeys, or opt for the many farmhouses and b&b present.

2.  East Trentino Horse Trail

This route allows you to discover the wonderful landscapes of Valsugana and the Lagorai mountain range. It is a route of about 400 km which includes 15 stages and is made up of many routes of varying difficulty. The main route is a circular route of medium/high difficulty. A few numbers to understand the type of terrain: 66% is on agroforestry roads, 20% on asphalt road, 14% challenging mountain trekking, however well marked and secured.

The horse trail is full of b&b’s and refuges where you can stop at night or where you can stop to eat if you make a day trip. You can also come across several equestrian centers: in fact, you can also explore part of the area on horseback.

3. Tour of the Giants, Aosta Valley

This route is circular and joins Alta Via 1 and Alta Via 2. The most beautiful thing is that in this ring you will pass close to the four greats of Europe: Monte Bianco, Monte Cervino, Monte Rosa and the Gran Paradiso. And not only that, but you can also admire the unspoiled nature of two national parks, the Gran Paradiso National Park and the Mont Avic Regional Park, and also the Mont Mars Nature Reserve.

Some technical information: the entire Tour of the Giants is 370 km long, combining the Alta Via 1, also called Alta Via Dei Giganti, and the Alta Via 2, also called Alta Via Naturalistica. It is a really demanding trek, especially in its completeness, recommended to those who have at least a little experience. Being a loop tour, the point of arrival and departure is the same: Courmayeur Mont Blanc, in the north-western part of Valle d’Aosta, not far from the border with France and Switzerland.

4. Wolf’s Trekking, Maritime Alps

Not only nature but also history: those you can walk along are the ancient hunting trails of the kings. The Maritime Alps Natural Park was, in fact, the Savoy Hunting Reserve. Today the park is one of the largest in Italy and is the natural habitat of various animal species, such as wolves, chamois, deer, and ibex.

Speaking specifically about the Wolf Trekking, this is a circular route of about 75 km, with the starting point in the town of Entracque, where you can also visit the wildlife center “Men and Wolves”. For a small stretch, the trek also passes through France. You don’t need to be an expert hiker to walk it, but good physical preparation is required, also to face the steep slopes. So it is not recommended for those who have never walked in the mountains or have limited themselves to simple routes.

5. Etna trekking, Sicily

It is one of the most incredible trekking that our peninsula has to offer. We are in Sicily, precisely in the area of Catania, where the highest active terrestrial volcano in Europe rises. You can also visit it with a day trip from Catania and there are several routes to explore it, more or less difficult. It is certainly a unique experience for the kind of landscape you will find yourself in front of.

The complete trek is quite challenging, it is about 65 km long and lasts 4 days. The advice is to rely on expert guides, as we always talk about an active volcano. The most exciting stage, and also the most difficult to reach, is obviously the last one: you will climb up to the Piano del Lago and, weather and volcanic conditions permitting, you can reach the south-east summit craters. Here you will find yourself at an altitude of over 3,000 meters, an incredible experience!

6. Tratturo Magno, from L’Aquila to Foggia

The route between L’Aquila and Foggia. The sheep-track is a grassy or earthy path that has been formed due to the continuous movements and passages of the flocks. In Italy there are several, but this is the longest and most important of the five Tratturi regions, hence the name Tratturo Magno. The other four are Cinturelli – Montesecco, Celano – Foggia, Castel di Sangro – Lucera, Pescasseroli – Candela.

It covers a good 244 km and consists of 10 stages. The route has been restored not so many years ago and so it is slowly making its way among the best trekking in Italy. But be careful, it is suitable for the most trained, also because of the different differences in height.

7.Carnic High Trail

It is a beautiful trek that runs along the Eastern Dolomites, along the border between Austria and Italy, crossing Austria, Veneto, and Friuli Venezia Giulia. It is also called Via della Pace and it will take you back in time: this area was a continuous clash between the two nations during the First World War and still today you can come across the remains of trenches, caves in the rock and old posts.

Some data to better understand the route: 150 km trekking, 9 daily stages, landscapes ranging from rugged mountains to valleys, from beautiful alpine lakes, passing through lush forests. It is by no means an easy route, in its entirety, it is recommended for experienced hikers or those with a minimum of experience, not for improvised hikers. There are also short sections that can be covered even in a day and with different difficulties, which allow everyone to get to know this area.

8. Marmolada, South Tyrol

It is located between the provinces of Trento and Belluno. It is considered the queen of the Dolomites, besides being its highest mountain range. Its highest point, in fact, is Punta Penia, 3,343 meters high, followed by Punta Roca (3,309 m) and Punta Serauta (3,218 m). In winter it is a sought-after ski destination, in summer you can make many hikes of varying difficulty. If you are a beginner or a family member, we recommend the routes at the foot of the mountain range, which are beautiful and suitable for everyone.

If you are an experienced hiker then go as far as the peaks and along the most spectacular and difficult trails. One of these is certainly the Alta Via delle Creste trek, on the crest of Mount Migogn. It is a ring-route, with a starting point Passo Fedaia. To complete it takes about 7 hours, the maximum altitude that can be reached is 2,384 meters and the difference in altitude that you have to face is 900 meters. Along the way, you will find several refuges or huts for a quick stop or lunch.

9. Wild Blue, Sardinia

This famous and inimitable route has gained worldwide fame in recent years. Be careful though, it is as beautiful as it is difficult: we are talking about what is considered one of the most difficult trekking in Italy. It is located in eastern Sardinia, along the coasts of the municipality of Baueni.

It is a trekking of about 50 km, starting from Pedra Longa and arriving at Cala Sisine. It can be done in 5 or 4 days, also depending on the level of preparation. To walk it you must rely on a local guide, who will accompany you throughout the entire journey. In fact, the paths are not marked or signposted, and in some places, they are even overhanging the sea.