If you go hiking in Apennines in the Italian province of Modena, you won’t have to worry about crowds on the trail. Yet, you will still witness beautiful scenery that we’ve all come to expect when traveling Italy and you will experience the best of Italian hospitality
I will admit, before staying in the Emilia Romagna region, I didn’t know anything about it.
Lucky for us, we work in travel and have the opportunity to let people educated us. So when we heard about the Apennine Mountains we had to go!
Hiking the Apennines
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We booked our stay at the Belvedere Hotel in Montese and planned did their Harmony and Nature tour.
It was the perfect introduction to hiking the Apennines. With 130km of footpaths branching off the Belvedere Trail in Montese, it is a beautiful hike that is steeped in history.
There are different levels for all hiking experience from easier tourist routes along comfortable paths, to more challenging trails with various terrain and stepper grades.
Ancient Trail of Montese
We caught a train from Bologna to Vignola where we transferred to the quiet town of Montese in the Apennines.
Montese is small town located in the Apennine Mountains that was actually a key location during World War II. Montese was a location for one of the final battles in Italy.
It was actually liberated by Brazilian forces on April 17, 1945 and you can learn all about it at the Montese Historical Museum housed in a seventeenth-century rectory next to the church of St. Mary Magdalene.
The Village dates back to 600 BC and is located along the route of the Roman Road.
You can still walk on this ancient trail today and that is exactly what we were here to do.
Only in Italy
In typical Italian fashion, our trek didn’t start until we had a feast the night before. We ate an amazing dinner at the wonderful Belvedere Hotel.
I cannot tell you how flavourful and delicious this meal was. We had truffle pasta, Grilled Vegetables, stuffed tortellini and balsamic infused chicken.
Since we were hiking the next day, we thought that we should lay off the wine, but also in typical Italian fashion, they wouldn’t hear of it.
When we ordered sparkling water with no wine, the hotel owner gave us a stern look and said, no.
You must have wine! She was the typical Italian mama who knew what was best for us, so we dutifully listened and ordered a bottle Lambrusco. (sparkling red wine of the region.)
Hiking Apennines – The Percorso Belvedere track
I’m halfway through the article and I haven’t even mentioned hiking the Appenines yet! That’s the way it goes in Italy, nothing is rushed and food comes first.
So after a hearty buffet breakfast at the hotel, we set out for our hike. Our guide Stefano met us at the hotel and we became fast friends.
What we love about hiking with a guide is how quickly you bond. You are out in nature without a care in the world for hours on end with nothing to do but talk and enjoy.
One thing about hiking in the Apennines is that there are a lot of short and steep hills. They may look beautiful and rolling from a distance, but be prepared for a lot of up and down.
No need to worry though, there is no reason to rush and all the time in the world to soak up the view.
This part of the world used to be known for its chestnuts. Before the war, people used to gather chestnuts to make bread out of them.
Chestnut breat was their staple food.
During the war, the forests were cut down, but now they are back and thriving and the countryside is all lush and green and full of life.
Hiking with a Guide
We hiked for hours through forests and fields as Stefano told us about the history of the area.
We passed cows and donkeys and cottages and it felt like we were in the middle of a postcard setting. We hiked well into the afternoon and never saw another soul.
There are so many tracks to choose from, that even at the busiest times, you will be hard pressed to see anyone else on the trail.
These trails used to be the only way that villages were connected.
People have hiked these tracks of the Apennines for centuries, but today they are now used for hikers on weekend getaways.
Stefano tells us that it is mostly locals who hike here, they don’t get a lot of foreign tourists in these parts, but they are working on creating an infrastructure that will entice more tourists to the area.
So, if you are looking for a quiet place to go hiking in Italy, this is the spot!
How to Hike from Montese
At the moment, you can make your way out to Montese and start hiking on your own following the tracks signs and a map, or you can book hikes with Trekking Italy.
Their hikes range from one to seven-day trips.
Other Things to do in Montese
Trekking through the Apennines isn’t only about hiking though.
There is a rich history and culture to the area and you can stop to see the Montese Tower, taste balsamic vinegar, visit a Parmesan factory or stop to meet a local family.
Life remains unchanged in the Apennine Mountains and many people are living as they have for decades.
It’s in places like this where families make their own wine at their own vineyards, grow their own olives and age their own balsamic.
Ah, life is good. Why did we have to change our lifestyle so much in the 20th century?
Wouldn’t you just love to be surrounded by family while living in a beautiful region, sipping wine and eating fine parmesan drizzled in aged balsamic vinegar.
Excuse me while I go and dream of the Apennines.
For more on our experiences from Emilia Romagna
For more information on hiking in the Apennines, visit Trekking Italy
For hotels in Montesa visit Hotel Belvedere
Trains from Bologna to Vignola are one hour and cost about 6 Euro booking can be made at Trenitalia.com