Urban hiking is a practice that combines the desire to discover the cultural, scenic and urban beauty of a city with the good habit of walking. In fact it is a kind of walking tourism, practiced for decades, but only recently formalized: let’s find out more about it.
What is urban hiking
Hiking is a familiar term. It involves walking and hiking in the local area, typically in the midst of nature. Few may know that there is also an “urban” variant of this discipline. A real wander through the streets of cities, which can be free and aimless or more structured through routes designed by experts but always strictly on foot. This variant is certainly not an ephemeral fad. It’s a concept that will soon blow out its 20 candles, as we will see below.
Urban hiking is practice that reintroduces the taste of urban exploration for the tourist who likes to experience vacation at a slow pace away from the crowds. But it is also suitable for those who have lived in a city forever and want to discover its secret places or just lesser known and beaten corners.
Suitable for everyone, whether trained or sedentary, it is a form of soft sports ecotourism that allows you to choose from several routes differentiated by length and difficulty. It can be practiced both in summer and winter, day and night!
The benefits are those of brisk walking, so you fortify your cardiovascular system by warding off the risks of hypertension and osteoporosis and defend yourself from stress and anxiety.
Where urban hiking comes from
Although it is a practice with a very long history behind it, it is a relatively young concept, formalized in recent times in Italy, where it’s known as urban trekking. Some say it was born in America and we’ll happily stand corrected when you prove it, but this is the story we originally learnt: born in 2003 in Siena as an initiative sponsored by the local Department for Tourism, it will turn 20 this year. On the occasion of its 10th anniversary in October 2013, it was celebrated by 34 Italian cities, from north to south, including islands, with a series of routes at various levels of difficulty, accessible to all ages. Interesting celebrations and initiatives should be planned again this year.
Every year, the local Association for Urban Trekking organizes two events to raise awareness of this discipline. A spring and an autumn edition, in which unusual itineraries and fascinating routes are usually provided that have as their theme the connection between water and the city. Unusual corners of numerous Italian cities of art can thus be discovered.
For example, in the past, urban hiking has featured in numerous art cities in the Italian territory, from North to South. Routes made it possible to visit the Roman and Medici arsenals in Pisa, follow the evocative river route of the inner canals in Padova, plunge into the incredible underground world of Pistoia along the 650 meters of the ancient stream bed, cross the ancient German contrada where the irrigation ditches brought water to the whole city of Trento… and many other evocative routes.
Urban hiking is really a nice idea for our next vacation, eco-sustainable and low-cost: a more sporty, but also less hectic and predictable way of tourism. What do you think?
The benefits of urban hiking
But let’s look at what are the benefits associated with urban hiking or urban trekking, as this activity is also known in Anglo-Saxon countries. In our opinion, they can be summarized in 4 points.
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