Have you ever tried trekking with donkeys? One of our readers has been fascinated by the experience of walking with donkeys and she asks us where it is possible to try it in Italy. Here are 8 destinations to experience the slow journey with donkeys in Italy: from Abruzzo, to the beautiful hills of Piacenza, from the wild Casentino, to Umbria, up to the Alps.

Hello, Do you know of anyone offering donkey treks without a guide? My friends and I did this in France for a week, and would like to do it again this summer, in Val d’Aosta. Thank you,  Pia

Dear Pia,
Here are some itineraries you can follow, walking across Italy together with these strong and tireless animals that for a long time have helped man on grueling itineraries. Thanks to the slowness of this way of traveling, it is possible to fully admire places and landscapes. Furthermore, donkeys came out to be perfect for family with children, because of their walking rhythms which are not too fast.

the valpelline during autumn: a lake surrounded by trees
Autumn in Valpelline – picture by Alessandro via flickr

Here you can walk with donkeys admiring the Pennine Alps (Aosta Valley)

In Valle d’Aosta, the association NaturaValp, organizes some trips trough the Valpelline, with donkeys helping with the baggage. For these treks a guide is needed and they are organized mostly during the summer. For more information: Associazione NaturaValp, Cristian Bredy (Alpine Guide), Phone: 331-9583294, email: info@naturavalp.it

Our suggestion: don’t miss the trip with donkeys from Aosta to Bionaz!

A forrest in Valsesia: trees and an ancient house
Val Sesia – picture by ale via flickr

Here donkeys bring you to discover the Piacenza hills (Emilia Romagna)

Among the amazing hills of Emilia Romagna, you can experience unique moments with cute little donkeys. Here you walk slowly savoring the scents and sounds of nature. You can admire the beautiful hills of the Piacenza province, among vineyards and ancient villages, and stop at local restaurant to enjoy the slow-food products and the traditional cuisine of Piacenza.

La Collina dei Ciuchini, in addition to being a magical place where nice donkeys live, is an association founded by Francesca and Fabio, who defends the rights of donkeys. In addition, the association promotes different activities with thiese animals, from pet-therapy to short or multi-day excursions with donkeys. For further information: Francesca Ronchetti, Tel: +39 392 697 2211, E-mail: francescaronchetti@yahoo.it

Our suggestion: stay in one of the eco-friendly accommodations in the province of Piacenza, such as Agriturismo i Campi on the hills of Vernasca.

Here you’ll discover the Mount Rosa with donkey’s guide (Piedmont)

In Val Sesia (Piedmont), in the nearness of Mount Rosa, Mountain Planet organizes donkey treks in every season of the year, but especially in summer, of one or more days. A guide is needed and you will have the possibility to explore this beautiful valley. For more information: Mountain Planet, Phone: 346.3185282/349.0895467, Email:info@mountainplanet.net

In Piedmont region there is also an association, called Associazione Italiana per la Valorizzazione dell’Asino e del Mulo. They organize donkey treks in the valleys surrounding Turin. You will be guided by these faithful animals and also have the possibility to learn more about them. For more information: Aivam, Phone: 011 – 9361322, email: aivam@arpnet.it.

Our suggestion: for an eco-friendly stay you can choose B&B Tre Alberi Liberi, a nice sustainable bed and breakfast.

A view of Gresta Valley in Trentino: mountains, trees, blue sky and flowers
Gresta Valley – picture by Marco Shwarz via Flickr

Here you walk slowly to enjoy amazing landscapes (Trentino)

Dove Pensano gli Asini is a group of people that organizes treks through the most famous and haunted valleys of Trentino: in Val di Fiemme, in Val Canali near Pale di S. Martino, in Val di Non along Monte Peller. Walking with donkeys, travelers have the possibility to discover beautiful natural landscape in a new way. You can choose an itinerary of more days, sleeping in tent and camping… it’is more adventurous and is the best way to experiment the stillness of italian mountains.  For more information: Dove Pensano gli Asini, email: dovepensanogliasini@gmail.com,  Tel: 3458738292

Also in Gresta Valley (Trentino), the association l’Aurel offers some donkey trekkings. Two mild donkeys and a guide are ready to follow walkers on treks of one or more days. Furthermore, a meditative dimension is considered as an important part of the trip. Walking slowly is seen as a way to enter this dimension. For more information: L’Aurel, Tel: 3208080131.

Our suggestion: very close to Gresta Valley, there is the nice city of Rovereto. You can enjoy the serenity of B&B ManueDige before find out the mountains.

walking with donkeys in Casentino: tre people, two donkeys, some trees
Traveling with donkeys – picture by Claudio Visentin

Here you go into the wildest Casentino with donkeys (Tuscany)

In Casentino (Tuscany), the association Amici dell’Asino, gives the possibility to organize donkey treks without a guide, on agreed routes, traced on a road map. Travelers are also free to decide where to sleep, either in tend or in eco-friendly hotels.

Our suggestion: if you have a week to spend in Casentino, don’t miss this itinerary which starts from the first Mulino sull’Arno, goes trough the Foreste Casentinesi National Park and ends in Bibbiena, following an ancient route via Romea di Stade.

Every time of the year it’s ok for the first part of the itinerary:

  • 1st day: Molin di Bucchio – Santuario Santa Maria delle Grazie – Castello di Porciano (7 km)
  • 2nd day: Castello di Porciano – Digonzano (11 km)
  • 3rd day: Digonzano – Monastero di Camandoli (8 km). It’s also possible to walk 3 km more and visiting the Eremo di Camaldoli

For this second part, better prefer summer:

  • 4th day: Monastero di Camaldoli – Serravalle – Badia Prataglia (11 km)
  • 5th day: Badia Prataglia – Casa Santicchio in loc. Corezzo (10 km)
  • 6th day: Casa Santicchio – Banzena, along the ancient Via Romea di Stade route (12 km)

A short course is held before each trek, in order to give participants some information about the keeping of donkeys. The association creates also a road map with the itinerary , pointing out where to stop for the night and where to end the trip. For information: l’Associazione Amici dell’Asino: Marta Signi, Phone. 3200676766, email: amici.asino@alice.it.

Monti Sibillini
Monti Sibillini – picture by Antonio Cinotti via flickr

Here you go up and down from ancient donkey tracks (Umbria)

La Mulattiera is an association placed in Norcia province (Umbria) that arranges donkey treks in the Monti Sibillini National Park, walking trough Umbria and Marche regions. Travelers can join in organized trips with a guide but also try the self guided option, walking along fixed itineraries, camping or sleeping in hotels. For more information: La Mulattiera, phone: 0743.820051/339.4513189, email: info@lamulattiera.it

Our suggestion: here are some places where to sleep in the Monti Sibillini National Park

Along a street in the village of Tagliacozzo: old houses and some people
The small village of Tagliacozzo – picture by Paolo del Signore via flickr

Here donkeys are fun for the whole family (Abruzzo)

If you plan a trip to Abruzzo, you may be interested in trying a new experience, together with the donkeys of Casale le Crete, in Tagliacozzo. Here, different types of trips are arranged: some are thought for families with children, other are more challenging and can last two days or more. It is also possible to choose whether to travel with or without the guide. Casale le Crete is also B&B, a nice place where you can take some days off, surrounded by nature. For more information: Casale delle Crete.

Our suggestion: the most famous itinerary goes around Monte Velino (2489m) that can be done in 4 or 10 days, camping or sleeping in hotels.

Two donkeys walking in the grass
Two donkeys – picture by Patrizio Boschi via flickr

Eco-tourism Festivals, also with donkeys!

Every year, between the end of May and the beginning of June come back It.a.cà, the Italian Festival of responsible tourism. This year some donkey treks will are going to be arranged, walking across Emilia Romagna and Trentino. For more information find out the program of the Festival here!

And you, why not you tell us your travel adventures with donkeys?

Cover photo: Donkeys, photo by Martin Heigan, via Flickr

Donkeys in love
Donkeys in love, ph. by Klearchos Kapoutsis, via flickr

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