They say that movement is life.
What do you do though when you find yourself sandwiched so tight between family and work that you can’t carve the time to go to the gym?!
Well, it’s easy! You go for a walk.
Walking has many health benefits and the one I am really partial to is that it improves your mood. Which is a great thing when, speaking from experience here, life tends to overwhelm you and leave you feeling a bit down every now and then.
So, since the start of this year we have made a conscious effort to go out and about specifically in order to walk a bit more. As it soon transpired, walking as a family has its benefits, too. And not just in terms of health.
Walking together over a distance gives you a chance to talk, to help each other when the terrain gets a bit rough and to have that very precious family time which otherwise gets so easily eaten away between urgent emails, Netflix and work-related tiredness.
Plus, getting from A to B gives you a sense of accomplishment and a conviction that you can, after all, bring to completion other things in your life, too.
As such, today I want to share with you some of our most favourite walks and hikes within a very easy reach from Vicenza in Northern Italy where we currently live. You will see that we are not die-hard hikers and tend to take it rather easy. Hence, these walks and light hikes are suitable for families of any size and age-difference.
All sorts of terrains are covered – hills, lakesides and even some urban environments. Comfortable shoes and clothes are a must, but otherwise no specific and/or expensive equipment is required. Beautiful views are guaranteed in all cases. Don’t forget to carry plenty of water and some snacks to keep your energy levels high.
If you live in or around Vicenza, you can take your time doing all of the suggested walks. If you are visiting for a short amount of time, make sure that you choose based on your personal preferences.
Now, without further ado, let’s dig in alphabetical order into our personally tried and tested
20 Family-Friendly Walks and Hikes Up to An Hour and a Half from Vicenza – First Part
1. Asolo Town Centre to the Convent of the Capuchin Friars – Asolo, Province of Treviso
Asolo is a stunning hilltop town traditionally known as ‘The City of Hundred Horizons’. Go for a walk starting at the town centre (where you can admire the frescoed buildings and the cute little shops) and then continue all the way down to the Convent of the Capuchin Friars. The road will take you past beautiful villas with landscaped gardens, the stunning Villa of the Armenians and the whimsical Casa Longobarda from the 16th century. Right by the convent (also known as the Monastery of Sant’Anna) is the town’s cemetery from where even more splendid views over the surrounding hills are revealed. Follow the road back into town and round your walk with a visit to the medieval Pretorio Castle which nowadays houses the town’s theatre and a nice cafe.
Tip: If you are not afraid of steps, then another option is to walk from the town centre up to La Rocca – a 12th-13th century military fortress perched at 316 m height on top of the hill Ricco. Be aware that La Rocca is currently closed for restoration works, but the views are still stunning.
Suitable for buggies: Yes, as long as you are comfortable with cobbled surfaces and narrow pavements. However, there are lots of steps leading up to La Rocca.
More Photos and Information: Asolo – The Soul Asylum of Artists and Royals
2. Borghetto sul Mincio to the Scaliger Castle – Borghetto/Valeggio sul Mincio, Province of Verona
Borghetto sul Mincio is a charming little village on the banks of the river Mincio. It is famous for its handmade tortellini which, based on a local legend, are also known as ‘love knots’. Just above the village and on top of a steep hill stand the proud ruins of a medieval castle. Built by the Scaliger family – Lords of Verona – the castle commands stunning views over the valley of the river and the adjacent town of Valeggio sul Mincio. Once you have had your fill of tortellini in one of Borghetto’s restaurants which are housed in historical mills, head up the hill to visit the castle. There are two ways to reach it – one is by scaling the many steps which climb up the hill. The other is to follow the road which circumnavigates the hill and then go through a small public park before reaching the cobbled path lined up with villas which will take you to the castle’s entrance.
Tip: You can combine your visit to Borghetto sul Mincio with a visit to the nearby Parco Giardino Sigurta – one of the most beautiful parks in Italy and Europe. Read more about it here. Lake Garda is also close-by.
Suitable for buggies: No, if you take the steps. Yes, if you follow the road. Beware that pavements may be tiny or missing and that the incline at times is such that you need to hold tight onto the buggy.
3. Basalti Colonnari – Bolca, Province of Verona
Bolca is a small village up on the Southern margin of the Italian Alps. Believe it or not, but this is the area where they have found the best preserved fossilised fish in the entire world. Yes, at 800 m height above sea level. There is even a small fossils museum on site, which comes very well recommended. The best thing about Bolca though is that it is surrounded by hiking trails – from very easy to rather strenuous ones. We explored the one leading to the Basalti Colonnari – a very easy and mostly very smooth path revealing the beauty of the nearby hills and letting you see the 36 million years old prismatic basalt formations which are a clear indication of volcanic activity in those lands. The trail is very well signposted with red marks and it takes you from Bolca up to the 19th century church San Giovanni Batista beyond which the path delves into the forest.
Tip: You will see lots of hazelnut trees on the portion of the road leading from Bolca up to the church.
Suitable for buggies: Generally, yes, all the way to the church. Once the path delves into the forest, it gets a bit narrow and quite uneven with jagged pieces of rock sticking out.
More Photos and Information: Fish, Fossils and Frog or My First Hike in Italy
4. Gnomes’ Village – Hotel da Barba, Asiago, Province of Vicenza
A really sweet place within an easy reach from Vicenza, the Gnomes’ Village appeals to children’s and adults’ alike and tests their imagination and belief in fairytales. The trail leading to the Gnome’s Village starts right behind the Hotel da Barba which is in the vicinities of Asiago. Follow the trail through the lush forest wondering where, how and if you are going to see the gnomes. Detailed information boards are positioned along the route giving you tantalising glimpses into the life of these mythical creatures. I don’t want to reveal too much details as to where the trail will take you, as, I believe, that the success of the Gnomes’ Village lies in the anticipation which builds up to incredible levels as you follow the trail. The trail itself is very beautiful, so it is more than worth it the exploration alone.
Tip: Get active on the different pieces of wooden exercise equipment you will find in the forest. Also, be aware that the Gnome’s Village is a seasonal attraction.
Price: Paid for. Click on the official website (link provided below) to find out opening hours and ticket prices.
Suitable for buggies: Generally, yes, but at one point the path becomes quite steep and there are tree roots criss-crossing it at places.
More Photos and Information: The Gnome’s Village’s Official Website
5. Grotte di Oliero – Oliero, Province of Vicenza
If you love caves, you will love this place. Easy to reach from Vicenza, there you will find some very interesting caves located in the heart of a beautiful botanical park to walk in and explore. Visit the caves first. You will need to join a small group of visitors, all of you will be given helmets and life jackets, put in a small boat and transported between the underground river and the overhanging rock ceiling into a whimsical world. The temperature inside the caves is 12 degrees Celsius all year round, so it is a great place to cool off in summer. Once you have emerged back from the underground, enjoy the park which many birds call home. The park was originally created in the 19th century by the naturalist Alberto Parolini. Nowadays, there you can admire a large variety of trees and other vegetation typical for this part of the Veneto.
Tip: The caves are home to a strange creature – the Proteus Anguinus – a cave-dwelling aquatic salamander. Be aware that Grotte di Oliero is closed between November and March.
Price: Paid for. Click on the official website (link provided below) to find out opening hours and ticket prices.
Suitable for buggies: Not really.
More Photos and Information: Grotte di Oliero’s Official Website.
6. Laghi – Province of Vicenza
Laghi is a tiny sweet village which is a treat to visit and explore. Surrounded by the Venetian Pre-Alps, it offers many hiking opportunities. The easiest thing to do is to park in the village and go for a very long walk down to the two small lakes at the bottom of the hill. Once there, you can circumnavigate the lakes and follow the path to return back to Laghi. It doesn’t sound like much, but there is so much to see in terms of natural beauty that time will fly before you know it. The mountains look majestic with their snow caps, the village is picture perfect and the path leads you past a large picnic area with some playground equipment for children. Plus, there are ponies in one of the adjacent fields and swans in one of the lakes! The day we spent walking round Laghi was easily one of my most favourite days in Italy so far.
Tips: There are many walnut trees between the picnic area and the second lake. Pick their empty shells from the ground to use for crafts with your children. We painted them red with black spots and turned them into little ladybirds.
Suitable for buggies: In the village and around the first lake, yes. Further away it can get a bit more difficult, but there are quite a few wide paths.
More Photos and Information: Laghi – 50 Shades of Green
7. Lago di Fimon – Province of Vicenza
The lake of Fimon is nice and convenient when you want to convene with nature, but really don’t have the time to drive too far. Apparently, five centuries ago the lake used to be much bigger, taking up all of the valley. Since then much land has been reclaimed by people, so the lake is much smaller and you can go for a pleasant and not too tiring walk along its shores. There are various paths you can follow, one of which explores the archaeological past of the lake and the land. Apparently, people used to live here as far back as the Neolithic and the Bronze Ages. Personally, I love that the lake is surrounded by hills which makes its backdrop quite dramatic.
Tip: Go there to admire the beautiful waterlilies and the elegant swans gliding on the waters of the lake.
Suitable for buggies: Mostly.
More Photos and Information: Read this small write-up about the lake Fimon on Veneto’s official website.
8. Lazise to Bardolino – Lake Garda
This is a splendid walk which affords gorgeous views over lake Garda as well as the opportunity to experience first-hand the beauty of two of the little towns nestled on its shores. Lazise’s history dates back to Roman times. The town has a well preserved medieval defensive wall and a castle (not open to visitors) – both built by the Scaliger family in the Middle Ages. The medieval church of Saint Nicolo has frescoes which are eight centuries old. Lazise is also famous for its many gelaterias and cute little restaurants. Once you have had your fill of gelato or something more substantial, follow the promenade past the small pebbly beach and walk up to Bardolino – the next pearl in the necklace of towns adorning Italy’s biggest lake. It is a lovely walk, which you can do all year round. Around Christmas is especially lovely, as both in Bardolino and Lazise picturesque Christmas markets with many accompanying events are taking place. This is also the time of year when the citrus trees along Lazise’s promenade are covered in juicy orange in colour and essence fruits. Swans and ducks float in the tranquil blue waters and gaggles of boats are moored in the marinas along the way. Definitely one of the prettiest walks you will ever have the chance to enjoy.
Tip: Don’t be tempted to feed the swans and the ducks. It can net you a fine of 50 euros. Buy local truffles and mandorlato from the Christmas markets for the most original presents to give this season.
Suitable for buggies: Yes.
More Photos and Information: Christmas at Lake Garda – A Great Italian Day Trip
9. Upper Castle to Lower Castle – Marostica, Province of Vicenza
Marostica is a pretty as a picture medieval town about half an hour away from Vicenza. It is one of my most favourite places in the Veneto as it is so amazingly beautiful. Surrounded by mighty defensive walls, Marostica has two castles – one up on the hill which overlooks the town below, and the other – right on the edge of the town’s main square. On Marostica’s doorstep you will find literally dozens of hiking trails which are beautiful to explore. Especially in spring when the area’s famous cherry orchards are in bloom. To start you on the path of exploring Marostica and its surroundings, here is a simple suggestion: try walking the distance between the Upper and the Lower Castles. It is not a very long walk at all, but it can get rather steep at spots. Comfortable shoes are an absolute must. Don’t wear anything that doesn’t support your feet, like flip-flops. If you are particularly energetic, try walking from the Lower Castle to the Upper Castle first and then, once you have had your fill of the gorgeous views, come down the same way again. Otherwise, toss a coin to see who is going to be the designated driver to take you to the Upper Castle by car and then to drive the car down to the Lower Castle, while the rest of you make it there on foot.
Tip: Information boards with detailed hiking maps of the area are placed around town. Try to spot one in order to make note of hikes you would like to try.
Suitable for buggies: No.
More Photos and Information: The Great Wall of Marostica
10. Medieval Parapet Walkway – Cittadella, Province of Padua
This is a great walk which you will be undertaking at 14 to 30 meters up above the ground. It is not as scary as it sounds. To the contrary – it is exhilarating as you will get to see the medieval walled town of Cittadella from the very top of its mighty defensive wall. The wall can be circumnavigated in its entirety and it is considered to be Europe’s best medieval parapet walkway. Walking up there above the rooftops of the houses below, admiring the stunning vistas towards the Venetian Pre-Alps and following the curve of the centuries-old crenelated wall is a cardio experience like no other. The wall is almost completely preserved and you will be traversing it all from start to finish. It is a really memorable walk which will make your heart beat much faster.
Tip: Hold little children’s hands at all times. The wall is safe as such, just at some spots along the way and especially if you are an anxious parent like me, it feels like the gaps in the rails are a touch too big. A metal stairway connects the two ends of the wall at the spot where it was demolished during an enemy attack centuries ago. The stairway is safe, just I always find it more comforting to hold on the rails tightly as I scale up and down its metal steps.
Price: Paid. Check Cittadella’s Tourist Office official website for opening hours and prices.
Suitable for buggies: No
More Photos and Information: Cittadella, Independence and Fritella
OK, so these are my first ten suggestions for some easy and family-friendly walks and hikes within an hour and a half max from Vicenza. Which ones have you already done or would like to do asap? Let me know.
You can find the second part of this exhaustive list here.
Thank you for reading and I hope that the ideas above will help inspire you to go for a pleasant walk or a light hike with your family very soon.
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