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Nature

The best trails in UNESCO heritage sites in Italy: 10,000 steps amid nature and beauty

September is the ideal month for getting back into shape. In the open air, surrounded by some of the most enchanting places in Italy, regaining fitness is doubly exhilarating.

09 September 2022

4 minutes

Here we introduce you to the best trails in Italy's UNESCO heritage sites. Paths immersed in nature and beauty, inviting you to take invigorating walks.

It is not only about UNESCO World Heritage cities; the challenge is to explore all of the natural surroundings. Taking 10,000 steps through Italy's rich and varied forest heritage will be good for the spirit as well as the heart. So, are you ready for a bit of exercise and beauty?

1. Basilicata UNESCO Natural Heritage: the Cozzo Ferriero Forest

In the Pollino National Park, the largest protected area in Italy, lies the Cozzo Ferriero Forest. This is a beech forest covering some 70 hectares, in which centuries-old trees find refuge. And it is in the shade of their foliage that, following the CAI paths, you will cross patches of forest left to evolve freely, and then reach a breathtaking panoramic view: the Pollino and Orsomarso Massifs, Sila and the Aeolian Islands. An absolute pleasure for body and spirit.

2. Abruzzo UNESCO natural heritage: the ancient beech forests of the National Park

Similar scenery is revealed as you cross the trails of the Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park. The area, a temple of Italy's primeval forests, is home to ancient beech woods of exceptional naturalistic value, thanks to their incredible biodiversity. You will stroll through an impressive example of ecological uniqueness, populated by specimens that are more than 500 years old.

3. Calabria UNESCO Natural Heritage: Sila National Park

The network of trails in the Sila National Park, which covers the three provinces of Cosenza, Catanzaro and Crotone and can be explored on foot, on horseback or by bicycle, also has plenty to offer. The area is covered with trees (it is no coincidence that Sila has always been nicknamed the 'Great Wood of Italy') and the woods and ancient forests, which make up 80% of the surface area, are extraordinary.

4. Puglia UNESCO Natural Heritage: the Foresta Umbra Nature Reserve

Another wonderful nature trail to explore is in the innermost part of the Gargano National Park: the Foresta Umbra Nature Reserve. It owes its name to its dense vegetation, which makes it shady for many stretches. The area is the realm of biodiversity and is therefore the subject of numerous studies, especially because of the phenomenon of macro-somatism: indeed, you will come across plants that are much larger than usual.

5. Emilia Romagna UNESCO Natural Heritage: the Sasso Fratino Forest

At Sasso Fratino, the beech trees are more than four, if not five centuries old. This is the secret heart of the Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona and Campigna National Park, in one of the wildest forest areas in Europe. It’s a place of enchantment and magic, able to astound you with its marvellous landscapes. It is also Italy's first integral nature reserve, established with the aim of preserving one of the few strips of forest still intact on the peninsula.

6. Lazio UNESCO Natural Heritage: the Monte Raschio and Monte Cimino Forests

While the beech tree, in central Italy, is a typical forest species of the mountainous area, widespread above 1000 metres, along the paths of the volcanic reliefs of Lazio you will be surprised to discover that there are also beech forests at much lower altitudes. The abundant rainfall and favourable soil conditions allow these forests to flourish at an altitude of 350-400 metres. You can admire them on Monte Cimino and Monte Raschio, within the territory of the Bracciano-Martignano Regional Natural Park.

7. Tuscany UNESCO Natural Heritage: the Lake of the Idols

A route that will unleash your imagination amidst the infinite beech woods of the Casentino Forests National Park leads you to Mount Falterona, where the Arno river has its source, and takes you to Lake degli Idoli (Lake of the Idols), a unique mountain sanctuary that will catapult you back to the time of the Etruscans and allow you to relive the ancestral rites of this ancient and fascinating culture.

8. Piedmont UNESCO Natural Heritage: the Langhe, Monferrato and Roero

In lower Piedmont, in an area between the river Po and the Apennines, lies a unique slice of Italy. A breathtaking landscape will open up before your eyes, with a succession of hills in which you will breathe in the ancient, wild and original soul of the Langhe, Monferrato and Roero. You will walk among oak and hazel groves of ancestral beauty, reflected in the snow-capped chain of the Alps. You will be caressed by the marin, a sea wind that warms and scents the entire area, giving it the microclimate so special for its inimitable wines.

9. Trentino and Friuli UNESCO natural heritage: the Dolomites

We conclude our regenerating journey among the UNESCO sites in Italy in the spectacular mountain complex of the Dolomites. Among snow-capped peaks, dense forests and red and golden valleys, you can choose to traverse a vast area that offers numerous routes of varying difficulty between the regions of Trentino and Friuli. 10,000 healthy steps in the peaceful paths of the Stelvio National Park, the Alpe di Siusi or the Friulian Dolomites Natural Park between the Tagliamento and Piave rivers. During your walk you could easily come across groups of roe deer and red deer. It will be a complete immersion in a true natural paradise.