Secret Apennines and Piedmont's Hills & Vineyards

A customer review

The Secret Apennines and Piedmont's Hills and Vineyards were our 6th and 7th walk with Inntravel. The Apennines are the most beautiful area we have walked and we quite fell in love with them. We never got tired of exclaiming over the views. At 71 and 72, it was our first 2-3 walk. We eliminated day 4 as that was too much climbing.

There was steep climbing but we had prepared ourselves and enjoyed the accomplishment of the hiking. We were fortunate to have good weather until the last day. The only downside to 5 wonderful days was struggling with clarity in the walking notes. That has never happened to us with Inntravel and I'm sure it will be rectified.

Everywhere we were met with kindness and care. Hotel Il Fondaccio in Lizzano-in-Belvedere spoiled us with their hot tub. Hot tubs are usually not that important to me but it was heavenly on sore muscles. For the rest of the trip, we mourned not being greeted with a hot tub with a spectacular view.

A previous reviewer mentioned that there was a good deal of forest walking which might not be to everyone's taste. While I don't know about Day 4,  I would like to clarify that for us the only day that the forest walking was a problem was Day 5, the descent from Monte Grande. Upon leaving Pianaccio, there is a steep climb on an ancient path alongside Bagnadori steam and through forest that is magical.

Unlike other days when there was a regular supply of uplifting views, the only time we were out of the forest was on top of Monte Grande, which was grand indeed.  Coming down from Monte Grande I found depressing. I don't know why the trees are so thick but there is a long stretch of dead lower branches and no vegetation below. No birds, not a single creature. While the forest gets a little better, the entire way down to Vidiciatico was forest. I don't think it's a reason to avoid such a wonderful area. As I walked I remembered what the reviewer had said and thought it might help others to know that the unremitting forest is only part of one day and easily made up for by all the other wonderful views.

We did not see another hiker until the last day. He was Italian and said that Italians all head to the Alps and don't know about the excellent walking in the Apennines. I highly recommend this walk.

We took a break in Bologna to rest and get a massage and then walked the Piedmont's Hills and Vineyards. It was another memorable walk, perhaps our 2nd favorite. It was a good order to do the walks as the hotels and food in the Apennines was good but simple. With the vineyards, there is more wealth in the Piedmont area which showed in the accommodations and food.

The first part of the week earned it's 2 rating, later the walking was easier. One Day 1, Bergolo was a delight. At a new cafe that opened in July the friendly owner gave us our best memory. He had been to the US and was interested in us and shared his experiences. We showed him a page from our walking notes to explain about Inntravel. It happened that on page 38, there is a description of his wife's family home. (Note also some nice painted stone slabs by the house entrance depicting the 'family at home' and 'prehistoric cave paintings'.)

He had done those paintings! He was so excited that pictures that he had done to please his children years ago were part of our walking notes. Unfortunately we forgot to get his name or the name of the cafe. But we left full of the joy of meeting people 9,000 km away from home and making a heart connection.

Since Covid, we were the 2nd travelers to have done the Apennines, the first to have done the Piedmont. Obviously traveling safely during a pandemic is paramount. With Italy's low infection rates, strict laws, Green Passes and excellent mask compliance we felt very safe. Inntravel had contacted all the hotels and requested that we be allowed to eat outside. While we were willing to take some risk in order to travel, being unmasked around others indoors wasn't a risk we wanted to take. We brought warm clothes so we were responsible for our own comfort.

Everyone was helpful and we felt safe at all times. Except Hotel-Ristorante San Carlo, which should have been a highlight. They would not let us eat outside so we agreed to eat inside, given the laws in Italy that would protect us. We were served a memorable, delicious meal with great attention to service by 4 servers who all mockingly wore their masks on their chins.

The next night we repeated our request to be served outside, as there was a covered outside table within feet of one of the restaurant doors. We were refused so we decided to eat elsewhere. We had contacted Inntravel and received word that they had intervened for us and we would be allowed a tray on the balcony of our room. I can't express what it meant to have Inntravel taking care of us.  

The rest of the trip was lovely with comfortable hotels, good food with all Covid laws carefully followed. Special mention to Albergo Le Torri where the kind young owners helped us with a walk after the rains made the vineyards miserable to walk. The last morning they dried off an outside table so we could eat breakfast outside, which meant a lot to us. When Hotel Villa Beccaris couldn't find a restaurant that had outside seating, they served us food from their bar in their magnificent conservatoire.

Being allergic to alcohol, I didn't expect to enjoy the wine tour on the last day but found it very interesting.

We had planned our vacation since January for two walks to Portugal. 5 weeks before our trip, Portugal became Level 4, Do Not Travel by the US government. We were already huge fans of Inntravel, which was underlined by their willingness to help us redo our trip and change it to Italy. Hopefully we will get to walk in Portugal another time but there was no regret. After being "stuck" during Covid, as one hotelier put it, we made happy memories safely in a great beauty.

Mrs Combs, USA, 21 September 2021

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