Walking vacations in Italy travel tips

Walking vacations in Italy travel tips


Keep it local

Etien Veeman from our walking vacations supplier 46 Degrees Italy has good walking in Italy travel tips: “Italy has always been a country of artisans. Nowadays the financial crisis is hitting really badly, so buying artisan articles helps – though always check that it is really ‘Made in Italy’. At the lakes, watch for silk scarves, while Bergamo has very fine wines and local food specialties. In Tuscany the olive harvest has been bad this year, so be aware that any bottle of olive oil that costs less than €8 will not be 100 percent Italian! Also look for objects made of olive wood. The lodgings on our tours often offer local products to buy or can advise you where to get them.”

Packing tips

Emily Christye, from our supplier Exodus, reminds you to pack a cossie:
“You should always have a swimming costume in your daypack! Surprisingly, a lot of people forget it because they imagine that you’re always walking along the cliff. But we don’t. We drop down to the sea almost every day, so it’s lovely to have a swim. I’d also say flip flops – as it’s really nice when you do drop down to the sea to be able to take off your waking boots and put on some flip flops.”

Mont Blanc tips

Chloe Knott is Mont Blanc and all round alpine expert at our leading supplier, Exodus. She gives great walking vacations in Italy travel tips, especially when it comes to the big treks:
“Always read the trip notes that accompany your trip, as they will give good guidance on how fit you need to be. Wear boots with ankle support and, if you have bad knees, take walking poles. A CamelBak water pouch is great, as you can top up at natural springs or at mountain huts. On Mont Blanc treks, always pack good waterproofs, a hat and gloves even in summer, as it can get windy and cold at some of the cols. In summer some people still make the mistake of thinking they can do Mont Blanc in a pair of trainers because it’s warm and sunny, but you still need the rigidity of a stronger soled boot and the ankle support.”
Eric Lasserre, proMONT-BLANC, an organization that seeks to protect the Mont Blanc massif, gives his advice on camping and safety in the mountains:
“In the Chamonix valley alone there are 130 avalanches corridors. So, if you are going off piste snowshoeing or skiing, or even hiking, you need to be aware of this, as it is likely you will cross one of them. Avalanches can often last up until the month of May with big springtime avalanches, so you need to be wary of avalanche warnings. Even if there is no snow where you are walking.”

Getting around

Melanie McAnaw from our walking vacations in Italy supplier Headwater:
“Parking comes at an absolute premium in most of these picturesque towns and villages on the Amalfi Coast. With a public transport system that is both regular and efficient, it’s much better to leave your car at home and use the local bus, ferry and Circumvesuviana rail service to bob about the area.”

Health & safety



Stay warm in the mountains. The temperatures can dip very quickly, so be prepared.

Stay protected from the sun on all walking vacations, in the mountains or by the Med.

Hiking in extreme heat can be dangerous and deaths do, tragically, occur. In warm regions, walk early in the morning and late in the afternoon, cover up and drink lots. Many walking companies don’t offer trips in the height of summer anyway, for health and safety reasons.

Generally, Italy is a picture of health: the tap water is safe to drink (unless there is a sign that says “Non Potabile”), and there are no nasty diseases lurking about.

If you need emergency treatment – medical or dental – head to casualty (pronto soccorso) at the nearest hospital.

To call an ambulance, dial 118.

For EU citizens, a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) ensures reduced-cost state-provided healthcare cover for any medical treatment that you may need in Italy; each family member will need a separate card. You can download an application form here.

An EHIC does not replace travel insurance. Comprehensive insurance is essential – be sure it covers emergency repatriation as well as any activities you may be taking part in, such as high level, trekking. Be sure to read the small print!

Treat altitude with respect, especially around Mont Blanc, although most hikes on the Tour de Mont Blanc are not affected. But if you doing the ascent, experts recommend three nights spent at an altitude above 2,500/3,000m beforehand. See our Mont Blanc travel guide for more details.

Make sure you stay hydrated. Particularly if you are on a family walking vacation, as it is hard to get kids to drink water sometimes, but they won’t realise how much they need it when walking. Even if the sun isn’t shining. Consider hydration backpacks, style CamelBak, so that they have water on them at all times.

Be wary of ticks when hiking in Italy as they carry Lyme disease. Carry tweezers so that you can remove them and be sure to inspect your bodies carefully at the end of the day. Always apply a deterrent (a natural one is best for children such as lemon eucalyptus) and then sun cream.


Italy is not a dangerous country but travelers should take all usual basic precautions against petty crime, particularly when passing through larger cities. If you need to call the police, the number is 113.

Although not an issue for hikers, when you stroll into town it is worth remembering that the driving in Italy is not the safest in Europe. Plus traffic never stops at zebra crossings!

Write down the local emergency numbers before you set out, including mountain rescue (118), if relevant. And always tell someone where you are going. Make sure your mobile phone is charged too.

Make sure you only use Mountain Rescue in emergencies, or you will be fined heavily for misuse of public services.

Be wary of lightning storms and, if they do occur, get below the tree line and stay away from summits or isolated trees. Stay as low as you can.
If you are on a self-guided walking vacation, always get a detailed weather forecast before you set out and if you are in the mountains, turn back if the weather turns bad. Or take shelter if in doubt. The World Meteorological Organisation is excellent.

Don’t hike in the mountains immediately after a storm, as this is often when avalanches occur. Always check the avalanche forecast. There can be avalanches even as late as May, so you need to be switched on. There might not be snow where you are walking but, if there is a big melt higher up, it can travel down the valley.

Be aware of hunting season (la caccia) in Italy, particularly in Tuscany and Sardinia. It starts first Sunday in September and ends on the last day of February, taking place mostly on Sundays. Check with your local host about hunting risks in your area and if you see lots of bullet casings on a trek of a Sunday in September, turn back.

Tips from our travelers

Recommendations from those who have been there

At Responsible Travel we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful walking vacations in Italy travel tips our travelers have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your walking vacation in Italy.
“When walking in the hills or up Vesuvius, think skiing - if you let anything slip it could quickly be lost forever, so I had my glasses on a chain and used the wrist strap on my camera, etc. And keep 50c coins handy for automated public toilets!” - Juliet Dunn, Amalfi Coast

“We were surprised by the numbers of people following the suggested walks so this is perhaps not a vacation for those wanting to escape from people.”Eileen Hardy, Dolomites

“This vacation is classed as Grade 1, leisurely. It does involve walking at a relaxed pace, but you still need to be fit and able to tackle hills."Jill Simpson, Tuscany

“Drinking backpacks are necessary. And bear in mind that you need space in the backpack for the lunch packages, because they were generous :-) Proper hiking boots are recommended. Book for at least one additional night in Bellagio after the finished hike! We only stayed there for the included two nights, and then headed to Milan, which we regretted already as we were leaving on the ferry for Como. Should´ve stayed at least a few more nights by the lake instead. ” - Jeanette Reinholdtsen, Lake Como
Photo credits: [Local crafts:Nicola Romagna] [Mont Blanc: Jerome Bon] [Tram: Alain GAVILLET] [Mountain steps: Szapucki] [Boat travel: Julia Maudlin]
Written by Catherine Mack
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