Have you ever seen those passionate walkers crossing your path, swinging their arms energetically while holding long sticks that look a lot like ski poles?
Well, I was one of them last weekend and…I loved it!
Let’s start from the beginning: these intrepid explorers aren’t simply walking, they are practicing Nordic walking, a sport that originated in Finland. It’s increasing in popularity across Europe, the USA and even Australia.
The ski poles are actually poles made of carbon and glass fiber and they help with the movement of the upper part of the body while aiding posture.
Once you become familiar with the correct way of walking, with a straight back and the coordinated movement of your legs and arms, you are ready to set off on your walk.
Practicing Nordic walking is an easy way to exercise the whole body:
- it helps your aerobic training as the different pace level trains the heart;
- it tones your legs and arms – if you envied Michelle Obama and her toned arms at the Presidential ball, this is the ideal exercise for you;
- it strengthens abdominal muscles;
- it stretches and opens the upper part of your shoulders that are forced into an unnatural position while sitting at a desk all day;
- and even more importantly, it burns 50-70% more calories compared to regular walking.
Are you wondering where you can find Nordic walking tracks? Well, you don’t need to go as far as Finland.
The Montegrappa community has just launched the Montegrappa Outdoor Park: 50 tracks for Nordic walking have been mapped out and grouped into 4 thematic categories that you can find on the website: www.internet-planet.it
“Sfida le nostre salite” (test your breath and muscles)
These are tracks for the more brave, trained walker with an added bonus: the site provides detailed information about the level of difficulty of the route, sea level, and the time it takes to walk round the circuit, so you are totally prepared before you start off..
“A spasso con i sapori” (enogastronomic circuits)
This is a country blessed with excellent products such as Prosecco wines, Montrasio and Grana Padano cheese, both certified D.O.P, and delicious fresh fruit like the chestnuts of Monfera and the apples of Monfumo, little areas at the foot of the Grappa Mountain. Walking and burning off the calories are key to guilt-free tasting of the local specialities!
“Gli itinerari della memoria”(memory tracks)
The area around the Grappa Mountain will always be remembered as one of the most tragically famous places of the First World War.
Many tracks pass by some of the infamous trenches that are still visible on the mountain side.
If you’re not particularly interested in WW1 history, pick up one of the tracks that lead to the remains of the ruling Ezzelini family’s site or some of the main historical signs of the Venetian Republic.
“Passeggiando con gli artisti” (The artists walks)
This territory is home to two famous artists: Antonio Canova, the sculptor who was born in Possagno whose home has since been turned into a museum and Giorgione, whose powdery azure skies are a celebration of the scenery and colours of his homeland.
Italy Green Travel suggestions: start your Nordic walking practice by hiring a professional instructor who can teach you the fundamentals. It’s great fun and s/he will select the right tracks according your level. This way you won’t feel exhausted at the end and your enthusiasm will still be intact!
Go for a basic track at the beginning:the “Tre busi” circuit in the area known as “Madonna del Cogolo”, a few km from Crespano del Grappa Grappa,is ideal.
Where to stay: we suggest the Hotel San Giacomo, an eco-sustainable hotel with charming views of the Monte Grappa. Do not miss the special breakfast room, housed in an old coffee, with the original bar counter.
For digital spirit: download the GPD maps and bring them with you on your walks.
Cover image: Montegrappa, ph. by Giovanni Toso, via flickr