The revival of Italian paths

Some people call it "slow tourism" and one year from now, it will be praised worldwide as the new tourism phenomenon.

In fact, for some time now people seem to have rediscovered a so-old-it’s-new way of travelling, dictated not by the lines at the airport, but by the pace of your steps. The demand for "green" holidays grows by the year, as well as the number of people who prefer the quality and authenticity of such a travel experience over mass consumed tourist destinations, choosing the opportunity to dive in slowly in the widespread heritage of unknown lands, sometimes only a few kilometres from their hometowns.

Italy has responded very well to this trend and, although the French-Spanish Way of Santiago di Compostela, with its 250,000 pilgrims a year, remains undoubtedly the most famous path in the world, the over 6600 km of Italian paths filled with cultural, religious, artistic and gastronomic marvels have all the right numbers to be just as important.

Roads, paths, mule tracks waiting to tell their story to those who want to stop and listen.

The first sign in the rebirth of paths in Italy arrived in 2016, when MiBACT, the Italian Directorate-General for Culture and Tourism, had announced the Year of the Paths of Italy. The event has been followed by the creation of a portal, which lists and describes the main Italian routes, selected based on some ground requirements, including usability, conditions of viability and maintenance, catering, reception, services offered and availability of information for travellers.
Furthermore, there are also several associations, such as the Compagnia dei Cammini and MovimentoLento, created with the precise aim of spreading the culture of path-based tourism and everything related to it.

Strolling from the most famous to the most secluded paths

There are many paths dedicated to saints, which retrace the most significant stages and places of their lives, usually ending up to their most important places of worship. The Way of St. Augustine for example, also called the Way of the Rose because of its shape resembling a flower with a stem, leads to Pavia; other famous paths are the path of St. Benedict and that of St. Anthony, the path of Francis and the Via Lauretana.
Furthermore, there are also more profane paths, deeply rooted in their historical and naturalistic heritage. The path of the Brigands, which winds along the border roads between Lazio and Abruzzo; or the Path of Peace, which winds through Trentino-Alto Adige, Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia, connects the main battles sites on the Italian front during the First World War.

The Italian heritage is such that anyone can find his own way.

Naming a few more, perhaps to stimulate those readers with an appetite for history, there is the famous Via Francigena, the ancient route that from Canterbury went all the way down to Rome and then to Puglia, where pilgrims and crusaders departed for the routes to the Holy Land.
There are the Vie dei Tratturi, a dense network of paths still used fifty years ago by the shepherds that came down from the Apennines with their flocks to the plains of Puglia, perfect for those who want to immerse themselves in the folklore of timeless villages. There is also the Dante's Path, a circular route that goes from Ravenna to Florence and back, crossing the places where the poet lived in exile and found inspiration to write his Divine Comedy.
If you crave for mountainous paths, you can either walk along the Via degli Abati, which winds between Lombardy and Tuscany, or the path of the Gods, a small track nestled in the Amalfi coast that offers breath-taking views of the whole coastline, impossible to see in any other way.

Because there are details and nuances that can only be appreciated if you travel slowly.

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