In less than two months we’ll be taking to the trails in Tuscany, strolling the Sentiero Azzurro along the Italian Mediterranean, and cruising with the crowds up to the rim of Vesuvius. Exploring any new outdoor landscape means research and planning.
We started by choosing the right time of the year – avoiding winter when hiking is more limited and summer when crowds are at a peak. Shoulder season hiking hits the best of both worlds.
Then it was time to take a dozen or more guidebooks out the library to help narrow down an itinerary. Once a rough plan was established, we looked more closely at our chosen destinations.
As usual, we found that the more specific the guidebook, the more detailed (and useful) the information. Lonely Planet’s Europe on a Shoestring was useful for narrowing down the search as to which countries to visit at the outset, but LP’s Hiking in Italy was invaluable for picking the precise hikes we hoped to explore.
We’re also doing a crash course in Italian. Questo sentiero arriva a…? Learning a few key phrases of local lingo help you ask if this path goes to your destination – among other important trail questions and terms. Gira a sinistre doesn’t mean turning left is a sinister thing!
Questions to Ask
- When’s the best time to go for weather/crowds/budget?
- What level hiking do you hope to do (walks, hikes, scrambles, Via Ferrata…)?
- What special permits might you require?
Where to find the information?
- Bookstores and libraries (get the guidebooks)
- Friends and acquaintances
- Social media (websites, blogs, twitter, facebook)
What to pack?
What’s your favorite overseas hiking destination?