A journey within a journey, a journey that is first of all interior: spiritual walks in Italy are so many; from north to south you can leave for ancient pilgrimage routes that invite you to look inward; not necessarily religious walks but paths where you can be lost and you can discover yourself , finding a new dimension through meditation.

Walking is a constant element in human history, from the journey in search of food and shelter to the pilgrim’s journey in search of a contact with the deity. Every culture and every people walked and walking they have known theirselves and met each other.

Today we want to tell about 10 of the many spiritual walks in Italy, who have a common thread, a common element: a wilderness that accompanies along the path and which incorporates our destination; mystical hermitages, monasteries, or what remains of it, striking shrines and monasteries set in a green frame.

1. To the Sanctuary of La Verna

Sanctuary La Verna, destination for spiritual walks in Italy

In a wild but hospitable corner, away from the renowned tourist places, Tuscany hides a forest of fir trees, where over the millennia writers, saints and pilgrims have found a sacredness out of the ordinary. Here, in this nature so intense and poetic, St. Francis retired in the summer of 1224, for a period of silence and prayer. To get to the Sanctuary of La Verna, we take the old path of the Sacred Forests, within the Natural Park of the Casentino Forests. Among ancient silver fir and natural caves we arrive to the Sanctuary that contains spirituality, art, culture and history.

Where to stay: for ecological stay, here are some ideas you can’t miss next to the Sanctuary of La Verna and Casentino Forests. For pilgrims, the sanctuary of La Verna also offers free hospitality in the monastery (in dormitories of 15 beds).

2. The Hermitage of San Marco, near Ascoli Piceno

Hermitage of San Marco, destination for spiritual walks in Italy

We leave from the village of Piagge, a few kilometers from Ascoli Piceno. From here we continue on a path, going up to Colle San Marco. It is a short walk away, as opposed to other spiritual walks. But at every step everything disappears, leaving only the essence. We are immersed in thick vegetation, a enchanted forest of chestnut trees, until, at some point, appears an imposing staircase that leads us to this religious building: a pearl set in the mountain range.

Where to stay: in Ascoli Piceno you can find the eco-sustainable B&B La Chiarina, in the city center, with the possibility of a genuine self-service breakfast.

3. The Hermitage of Calomini, in Garfagnana

Hermitage of Calamine, destination for spiritual walks in Italy

In May you will meet many pilgrims who go up to the hermitage of Calomini, which stands close to a rocky cliff and nestled in the mountains. According to tradition here, the image of the Madonna appeared in 1000 d.C. to a local girl. The hermitage is located along the road that leads from Gallicans to Vergemoli and to Grotta del Vento. The nature and human architecture come together, the rock is an integral part of the complex, and together they create a place of mediation and sacral peace.

Where to stay: Garfagnana is a unique place, and is ideal for a nice holiday in nature. In the area there are many accommodations conscious to the environment, from the farmhouse to the B & B.

4. The Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso overlooking Lake Maggiore

The Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso, destination for spiritual walks in Italy

Here you cannot arrive by car. You can reach this impressive complex, divided into three buildings, just by foot. We are in Reno, a small fraction of Leggiuno, in the picturesque Lake Maggiore, in the part of Lombardy. The place is still a destination for devoted and pilgrims who are welcomed by Benedictine monks who live in the hermitage. It is said that the hermitage was founded by Alberto Besozzi, a rich merchant who, after a promise, devoted his life to prayer and meditation.

Where to stay: close to Leggiuno you can find different accommodations to live a slow holiday near the waters of the lake.

5. The Hermitage of San Bartolomeo in Majella National Park

The Hermitage of San Bartolomeo in Majella National Park, destination for spiritual walks in Italy

We have often talked about the magic of the woods of the Majella Park, an enchanted place where wild nature offers itself to its visitors in indescribable and pristine form and color. Right here lies the hermitage of San Bartolomeo in Legio, dug into the rock and destination of a beautiful trail through woods and open meadows.

Where to stay: in the Majella Park you will find the Pietrantica Farmhouse, an organic farm that recovered the old barns turning them into rooms and apartments for guests.

5. To the Hermitage of Sant’Onofrio

Hermitage of Sant'Onofrio, destination for spiritual walks in Italy

Continuing in your spiritual walk in Majella National Park, you can get to the Hermitage of San Onofrio who gives to the pilgrims who come a wonderful terrace where they can admire the beautiful valley. An arduous journey where you’ll appreciate the silence and spirituality of place among the scents of the Maquis shrubland.

Where to stay: the body of the Majella National Park offers to the guests Casa del Lupo, a cozy and low cost accommodation.

7. The Monastery of Valle Christi in Rapallo

The Monastery of Valle Christi, destination for spiritual walks in Italy

Only ruins remain of the monastery so full of charm, but the suggestion is still there and it is easy to imagine the splendor of the past. We are in Liguria, but it appears to be in Ireland. The property is completely surrounded by greenery and is shrouded in mystery. The silence, the ancient ruins evoke magical and unreal atmosphere that enter into your body.

Where to stay: be inspired by the eco-friendly accommodations of our network in Liguria, near Rapallo. You’ll find lots of ideas for a vacation between the sea and vineyards.

8. The Way of St. Francis

The Way of St. Francis, one of the spiritual walks in Italy

We’ve already talked about the place chosen by St. Francis in the Majella Park, but in Italy it is possible retraces the footsteps of St. Francis, going through the places where the saint prayed and lived. 900 km to go slowly, among hermitages, sanctuaries, ancient forests and medieval villages to discover that love that Francis felt for nature. You will know the medieval Rieti, the shrines of Greccio, beautiful woods and ancient villages.

Where to stay: discover Umbria, the places and shrines of St. Francis staying in beautiful environmental conscious cottages or hotels near Rieti

9. Lauretani Ways, towards the Holy House of Mary in Loreto

Lauretani Ways, one of the spiritual walks in Italy

A long network of spiritual paths that expand in the Marches and from all over Europe arrive in Loreto, to the Holy House of Mary; an old pilgrimage where every step you feel the evidence of the past: the Lauretani ways represent a long inner journey through Tolentino, Macerata and Recanati, abbeys and monasteries.

Where to stay: discover hotels, bed & breakfasts and guest houses around Loreto to better organize your journey along the Lauretani ways.

10. Jacopeo of Anaunia path, religious sites of the Val di Non

Jacopeo of Anaunia path

170 km and 7 stages invite you to discover one of the most fascinating Italian pilgrimages, between the historical and artistic treasures and religious sites of the Val di Non, in Trentino. You start and you get to Sanzeno and in 8 days of walking you will find the ancient places of welcome for pilgrims, the holy sites of prayer; all it framed by a charming nature.

Where to sleep: surrounded by green, at the foot of the mountains, here are the eco-friendly accommodations of Val di Non.

You’ll discover your limits, your strength, and with each step you will hear a new connection with nature and your spirituality.

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  • Peter Hoogstaden

    Interesting article. Of course there are many more ‘spiritual walks’ possible in Italy, but this is a good start!