At 8,000km, the Sentiero Italia is the longest hiking route in the world. It runs along all of Italy’s mountain ranges, from the Alps to the Apennines and the Islands, and crosses all regions. Built between the 1980s and 1990s, it was soon abandoned and was practically unknown. Va’ Sentiero is an engaging and impactful project which has developed this unique heritage in an inclusive way that responds to the growing demand for slow tourism. The total cost of the project was covered through a successful crowdfunding campaign and from the contributions of several foundations and companies that are in line with Va’ Sentiero’s values of sharing and sustainability.
The heritage expedition created by this group of young enthusiasts is based on a simple philosophy: walk, discover, share. In 2019, the National Year of Slow Tourism, following two years of careful preparation, Va’ Sentiero’s close-knit team set out on a journey to walk the entire trail. In three years, with some pauses also due to the global pandemic, they completed the Sentiero Italia route, walking an impressive distance of 7,850 km, crossing different environments, seasons and climates, facing many difficulties and bringing this unique collective experience to life.
Over the course of the three years, 3,000 people from over 10 countries walked alongside the team. Over 100 public events involving local communities were organised and, each day, the team shared their journey through their social media channels and media partners, attracting an increasingly diverse audience over the course of the journey. Following the end of the journey, a free and interactive guide was published on the Va’ Sentiero website, complete with all technical and cultural information about the trail. The well-developed and attractive website makes a hiking trip along any of the stages of the Sentiero easy to plan.
Since 2019, the Italian Alpine Club has undertaken a major restoration project of the Sentiero Italia on a national scale, to which the Va’ Sentiero project team has provided technical feedback on each stage.
“With a very forward-looking view on slow tourism, the Va’ Sentiero project team has created a true community around the natural heritage of Sentiero Italia and made meaningful connections with the people who live along the trail. This contributes to the continued use of the path and to the fostering of a specialised and sustainable tourism in more remote areas. This is a truly inspiring project which could be multiplied across Europe”, noted the Awards’ Jury.