Running out of ideas for the summer? Lovers of open-air excursions and green areas now have one more alternative: the Sentiero dei Parchi, an itinerary of over 7 thousand km that links 25 national parks in the 20 regions of Italy. A path that goes from Stelvio to Etna, from the Apennines to the Alps, including the major islands. The project was made possible thanks to the agreement between the Cai (Italian Alpine Club) and the Ministry of the Environment, which provides for a duration of more than ten years (from 2020 to 2033) and an investment of 35 million euros. The new Sentiero dei Parchi extends the already important offer in terms of sustainable development and biodiversity proposed by Sentiero Italia del Cai, which covers 18 protected places and has up to 85 stages.
Enhancing sustainable tourism and the local economy
One of the main objectives of the Parks Trail is the enhancement of sustainable tourism, a key concept for the tourism sector for post-pandemic recovery. During the lockdown phase, people rediscovered the pleasure of walking in the open air, falling in love with nature again. And what better occasion this summer than to organize an eco-sustainable holiday in one of Italy's 25 national parks, discovering enchanting villages and breathtaking nature? In addition, the 35 million planned for the expansion of the Italian hiking network will also offer a special showcase for the local economy, eager for the arrival of tourists.
Via Francigena, the mother of all paths
In advance of all the others, the Via Francigena has drawn up a short list of rules to be respected during phase 2 of the coronavirus, i.e. until a vaccine against Covid-19 is found: the use of the mask, the observance of the social distancing (at least 1 metre between one person and another) and the availability of the sanitising gel have been confirmed. The Via Francigena crosses Italy from the Alps to the Apennines, crossing some national parks of great value, including the National Park of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines. One of the most interesting villages to visit is Castiglione di Garfagnana, in the province of Lucca, famous for its walls, medieval castle and the churches of San Pietro and San Michele.
The 25 national parks of Italy
Established in 1922, the Gran Paradiso National Park is the oldest park in Italy. A year later it was the turn of the National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise, for a long time known only as the National Park of Abruzzo. Before the Second World War the Circeo National Park and the Stelvio National Park were established. In the post-war period, in addition to the first four parks just mentioned, there are five others: Calabria National Park, Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park, Pollino National Park, Aspromonte National Park and the Foreste Casentinesi National Park. All this by the end of the 1980s.
The nineties saw the activation of 11 national parks, which will now all be part of the fascinating new Sentiero dei Parchi: Cinque Terre National Park, Asinara National Park, Tuscan Archipelago National Park, Vesuvius National Park, La Maddalena Archipelago National Park, Monti Sibillini National Park, Val Grande National Park, Gargano National Park, Majella National Park, Cilento National Park and Gran Sasso National Park.
Finally, the last five national parks were created in the 2000s: the aforementioned Tuscan-Emilian Apennines National Park, the Island of Pantelleria National Park, the Lucanian Apennines National Park, the Alta Murgia National Park and the Sila National Park.
Important: on the web you might find that the Sentiero dei Parchi links all 26 national parks in Italy, when in reality there are 25 regularly surveyed. So why this discrepancy? The reason is due to the lack of activation of the National Park of the Gulf of Orosoei and Gennargentu in Sardinia, although it was established in 1998.