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Italy’s New Hiking Trail Will Connect 25 National Parks

By Maggie Fuller

Jun 6, 2020

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The path will pass through the southern Dolomites in the northernmost parts of the country all the way down to Sicily.

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The path will pass through the southern Dolomites in the northernmost parts of the country all the way down to Sicily.

The Path of Parks network will loosely trace an existing 4,350-mile trail.

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Italy is starting to reopen to some travelers after a long lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the country is celebrating with a new hiking trail. On May 23, the Italian Alpine Club (CAI) and the Ministry of Environment announced a new hiking route that will connect all 25 of the country’s national parks.

Much like Chile’s 1,700-mile Route of Parks, which opened in 2018, the Sentiero dei Parchi, or Path of Parks, is more of an itinerary than a through-trail. It will run across snow-capped mountains in the Dolomites and Alps, along the coastlines of Cinque Terre, over the rolling hills of Tuscany, to the caves and forests of Abruzzo, and more. There will also be sections of the route on the islands of Sicily and Sardinia. 

Though it includes five towns, Cinque Terre is a national park. In fact, it was the country’s first.

The path will roughly follow the existing Sentiero Italia, or Italy Path, a 4,350-mile hiking route through the country that encompasses 400 sections. But this existing trail only includes 18 of the country’s national parks. The new Path of Parks will diverge from the Italy Path to pass through all 25, many of which are biosphere reserves and UNESCO World Heritage sites. 

Travelers tracing the Path of Parks will be able to get a “passport” to track their progress. While the CAI hasn’t released details yet, hikers will likely be able to get a stamp at visitor centers in each park, much the way they can with passport programs in other places.

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The trail project was launched on May 24, 2020, coinciding with the European Day of Parks, an annual commemoration of the region’s protected areas. Italian minister of the environment Sergio Costa stressed the importance of conservation and education in the creation of the route; he also noted a collective need to be outdoors more in the post-COVID recovery period.

The island of Pantelleria is 62 miles off the southwest coast of Sicily.

Many sections of this new route already exist, but there is currently no official opening date for the Path of Parks. And it may be a while: Between now and 2033, the Ministry of Environment will invest approximately 35 million euros (about US$40 million) in the maintenance of trail networks in protected areas, including trail restoration in those parts that have become damaged by bad weather and natural disasters. In the meantime, you can use your socially distant outdoor recreation time to train for the long hike. 

>>Next: The National Parks Are Reopening. Here’s What We Know

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