From alpine meadows to sunny vineyards, northern Italy’s regions all offer a spectacular canvas for active experiences outdoors...
When it comes to the wilds, northern Italy has it all, from lakes hemmed in by mountains to valleys veined by rivers. And while visitors are drawn to the area’s famous cities – Venice, Milan, Turin – and their bounty of classic postcard sights, to really appreciate the country’s upper reaches, you have to head outdoors.
This is why seven of Italy’s regions have come together to launch the GreenAndBlue project, which highlights hiking and biking routes and other active adventures, so travellers can take full advantage of the natural surroundings. It’s time to go wild...
Italy’s north-western regions are perfect for adrenalin-seekers. The walking trails that weave the lush hills and mountain pastures of Valle d’Aosta’s Gran Paradiso National Park (Italy’s first) afford epic alpine views, while the valley is also cut through by the Dora Baltea river – a happy hunting ground for kayakers. To the south, neighbouring Piedmont’s wild, Sesia river is a haven for canoeing and rafting, too. Yet the region isn’t just for paddlers. Hikers and trekkers will appreciate to discover the epic alpine views of Gran Paradiso NP, between Valle d’Aosta and Piemonte regions.
Coastal Liguria is a trekkers’ dream, home to the network of Sentiero Liguria trails that snake along beach paths and cliff tops, letting you tread through Mediterranean forest and olive groves. More central Lombardy, though, is home to northern Italy’s largest gem: namely, the enchanting lakes Garda, Como, Iseo and Maggiore. These act as checkpoints along cycle trails, such as the 279km Oglio Greenway, while they also offer ideal conditions for sailing. And for walkers, Lombardy’s open countryside serves up a hefty slice of the La Via Francigena pilgrimage route.
Tucked away next to the border with Slovenia, Friuli Venezia Giulia is laced with alpine wildflower meadows and snow-capped peaks, perfect for hiking or biking. The Alpe Adria cycle trail slices through its heart, linking Salzburg with the region’s Adriatic coastline, where the waters are ideal for stand-up paddleboarding.
The landscapes of the Veneto region are rich in active experiences, from walking or cycling the Dolomites to kayaking Venetian lagoon. But ancient paths also thread this lush land, including the old Roman road Via Claudia Augusta. Look out, too, for pilgrimage route The Walk of Saint Anthony, which also crosses into the region of Emilia-Romagna where 14 historical routes crisscross the region and lead modern hikers on the steps of ancient people who had settled or travelled in this land between the Adriatic Sea and the Apennines.
Northern Italy’s mix of ever-changing landscapes remain not only much quieter, but also just as compelling as the country’s bustling hub cities and their wealth of wonders. This is your cue, then, to explore its tapestry of wilds, whether by canoe, two wheels or two feet, to discover natural masterpieces to rival any of the old masters’.
For more information visit www.greenandblue.it