Not knowing what to fully expect, I brought a tent along on my hike. Even though I spent most nights in an albergo, hotel, or rifugio (there is not very much open camping along the trail (campeggio libero), but you can get creative if you watch the boundary signs), there were nights when there was no other option and the tent was critical. Not only that, camping in this region is amazing.
Every place I stayed was great with friendly people (at times you had to get past the “chiuso” (closed) responses and explained that you were hiking the Alta Via (or they saw your backpack)). Great Italian food after a day of serious calorie-burning was extremely welcome. I think I ate every morsel of food that was put in front of me – even all the bread One of my favorite things about Italy is that is is virtually impossible to get a bad meal (unless you go to McDonald’s of course ) – everything I had was great.
I had nice weather most of the way, with the exception of one rained-out day and another day filled with chilly wind. The clouds move in fast here, but also move out quickly most of the time. I learned my lesson the first time I got all bundled up for rain and was roasting 30 minutes later and had to peel it all off again
Despite the lodging challenges (not a big deal, really), I highly recommend April/May as prime time for hiking the AV (and most locals I talked to agree with me). Everything is blooming and green and the only time I saw any other hikers on the trail was on a Saturday when I crossed paths with some local day-hikers.
On my final day, I planned to catch one of only two buses to the coast. At 06:30, as I loaded my pack to walk outside to the bus stop to catch the 06:40 bus, I beheld a curious sight: the bus roaring past my window. Hmmm. Hopefully it’s going INTO town and will come back by the stop on the way OUT of town. Problem: there IS no town. The rifugio operator swore the bus was supposed to be there at 06:40 – guess the driver decided to be early that day. Next bus: 16:10. Now, I’m pretty good at going with the flow, but I admit I had to throw a little fit on this one But, as I reminded myself that there are no accidents, I decided to make the best of the day and enjoy some hiking without a huge pack. Turns out to be one of the best photo days I had on the whole AV hike. Lesson #27,873 hopefully retained I made absolutely sure to be at the bus stop 15 minutes early in the afternoon, and sure enough the bus arrived about 4 minutes early this time and made no effort to wait until the scheduled departure time – at least I was on board and on my way to the coast – Cinque Terre – stay tuned