It can be difficult for anyone who is accustomed to hiking in North America to grasp just how user-friendly Italy’s hiking infrastructure is. Multi-day hikes in North America (think the John Muir Trail, the Appalachian Trail or Cheryl Strayed’s PCT hike) mean a heavy pack containing several days’ worth of food (maybe inside bear canisters) in addition to a tent, a sleeping bag, and cooking utensils. Mountain huts in Italy make all of that gear unnecessary.
Hiking trails criss-cross Italy, so it’s easy to add virtually any level of hike to an Italy itinerary. The Italian hiking organization, Club Alpino Italiano (CAI), does a wonderful job of providing detailed information, maps, and recommendations for local guides. But the best part about hiking must be the mountain huts in Italy. These huts – called rifugi or bivacchi in Italian – provide not only beds but also serve delicious food, and there are many of them. Planning an Italy trip that involves sleeping in a mountain hut is not difficult, but it’s not the same as booking a regular hotel. We have advice (or we can plan it all for you).
The Lagazuoi mountain hut in the Alta Badia region of the eastern Dolomites is one of the nicest mountain huts that we know of. It has lots of beds and even a few private rooms. In the summertime, it’s possible to hike through nearby WWI tunnels and in the wintertime, it’s a well-known ice-climbing destination. Wintertime visitors have the added bonus of an outdoor sauna. To top it off, the chef at its restaurant is amazing, making a lunch or dinner there a worthwhile excursion. If you don’t want to hike up, there’s a chairlift.
Considered to be a holy mountain by the locals, the Rocciamelone Peak houses a wonderful rifugio. Located in the Italian Alps near the French border, it’s a gorgeous spot to watch the sunset and the sunrise. And, this hiking trail is suitable for any level of hiker.
This is the highest mountain hut in Europe, at 4554 meters or just under 15,000 feet. This is not an easy one to plan, though! The hut is famous, and a half-pension (bed + dinner) is not inexpensive. Also, hikers must be in good shape and able to cross a glacier in order to get to the hut.
Thanks to local Alps hiking guide Roberto Calcagno for images and expert advice for this article.
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