Hiking in Southern Italy
Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 9 Mar 2017
The Secret Splendours of the South
The southern part of the Italian peninsula, even in 2017, is much less visited by tourists than the north and remains mysterious and often misunderstood. People might assume that there is not much there to attract the modern-day traveller, being far from the famous power house cities of the north and the artistic magnets of Florence and Venice.
But to ignore the south is to miss a genuine Italian experience and the warmest possible welcome from the people you will meet there. Hiking in regions like Abruzzo and Basilicata is like travelling through time, taking a step into life as it was lived a hundred years ago, and leaving behind the pace and pressure of the modern world.
It is true that these areas faced dramatic poverty in the last centuries and that the numbers emigrating to the north as well as to the new world were huge. The result is that many of the people we meet along the way have friends in Australia, cousins in America or a brother in London and they have a true affinity with and genuine interest in visitors from these places. They are inextricably connected to their land and landscape, live by the seasons and preserve culinary traditions that stretch back through the generations.
Two of the places we stay on these two tours have remarkable histories. Both hotels have the same owner, a man with the vision to turn an abandoned medieval village in Abruzzo into a fascinating hotel where each of the ancient dwellings scattered through the hamlet is now a bedroom and bathroom for guests. But don't be concerned about your comfort as underfloor heating, high speed WiFi and a top-notch restaurant are all included! The second hotel, in the city of Matera in Basilicata, sees original cave dwellings converted to a 21st century hotel in a part of the town known formerly as "the shame of Italy". In the 1950s families still lived with their animals in spaces hollowed out of these deep limestone ravines, until the government forced a move to new housing schemes. Today this is one of the most unique accommodations in the whole of Italy and it is where we stay at the end of our Southern Italy tour. In 2019 Matera is to become the European Capital of Culture.
For us it is exciting to bring guests to a part of the country which they might not have ventured to before and to reveal a history which is at the same time pre-historic, medieval and 20th century. We are keen to support the many family-run hotels and restaurants for whom mainstream tourism is not the norm and we enjoy the warm relationships we have built up with them over time. We love the wild and unspoilt landscapes, the silence and the lack of traffic and other people along the trails. The south still has secret places to discover and to do this on foot makes for an unforgettable holiday.
Our tours in Abruzzo and Basilicata have just a few available spots remaining in October 2017. Wilds of Abruzzo runs from 3 - 11 October and Southern Italy from 14 - 22 October. Please get in touch soon if you'd like to uncover the secret splendours of the south.