Here you find my own ideas, absolutely personal, about what could be useful to do or not to do,  what could be useful to have with us, and some other topics.

You can read these same subjects in several guidebooks, written by very competent authors; therefore, I will not probably add anything new, a part a bit of interpretation connected to my personal experience, that sometimes matters, anyway.

 

General organisation: places, time etc.

Where to go
When to go
Time to start

Where to go

All what you find in this web site, and in the forthcoming specific itineraries, is referred to situations without snow cover; personally I do not like snow too much, and cold weather is certainly a limiting factor.

più di 1000, spring, reno valley, apennine ridge

still snow on the high apennine ridge and already spring in the middle reno valley

Therefore, for my own sensibility, where to go depends a lot also on this fact.
So, no hiking during winter ? Certainly yes, but in the appropriate locations.
Going on with the updating of this web site, you will find more and more details in the section “Places”. To remain, for the time being, within the initial “core” area that I know best, the Ligurian coast is a winter target that, once tried, you will hardly abandon !
Several other hilly and mid-mountain areas are also snow-free during most of the year, however with a harsher climate than the Ligurian coast.
In summary, I substantially adopt a transhumance strategy: I follow the seasons and displace myself with them. But, to be clear: in certain places the summer season is very short; therefore, winter lovers will be welcome and they could be good for the places; but, simply, I cannot give them substantial advice !

When to go

In my opinion hiking must be a pleasure, and a way of  learning. Walking on a ridge among the fog is neither of the two. You simply see nothing, and it can also be somewhat dangerous.
My strong preference is therefore for hiking with good weather.  Nowadays we have the instruments to achieve this goal! Web weather forecasts are rather reliable. It is however necessary to have a certain knowledge of  places, and to be able to intepret a little the weather forecastings, also in relation to what you can actually see and perceive.
If weather forecasts are really bad in the place you choose, be flexible: see if you could go somewhere else.  If weather will be bad everywhere on the high mountains, it may be that you could find better conditions at lower heights. If there is really no hope, in my opinion, it is better to give up.
In this web site I will always refer to 1-2 days hikes. Of course, if you programmed a long trek the thing is not so simple, sometimes you must stay with what you have.
The best weather often occurs in the days preceeding the arrival of a perturbated front, that clears away all the local  clouds….   of course hoping that the perturbation is not approaching too fast: the south west wind on the Apennine ridge can be strong and harsh. Also the days following the transit of a front are generally clear, but they can be windy and cold, especially during winter.

più di 1000, arrival of a front, reggio apennine

weather still clear, without local clouds, in the hours preceding the arrival of a perturbated front

più di 1000, fog, apuanian alps

walking among fog is not fun and is not positive for you mood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time to start

About this topic the mountain-men rethoric generated a lot of words, with different emphasis,  but generally pointing at the same direction: “a true mountain man starts early in the morning”.
In reality, even forgetting the “true mountain man”, starting early, also very early, has its advantages from both comfort and safety points of view:
– for long hikes, it guarantees to have time enough available, until it is still light;
– in summer, early morning is cooler; walking few hours with cool temperature, instead of burning sun, is pleasant, besides being beneficial for your body, and a safety factor;
– it often happens that, when the weather is not fully stable and clouds develop during the day, leaving early saves your hike: you arrive on the top without any clouds or fog then, when they raise, you are already on your way back;
– early morning ligth is different from all the other times of the day;
– early morning you could more easily meet animals…

più di mille, dawn, mount cusna

early morning light is different from light of all the other hours of the day; mount cusna slopes

più di 1000, fog, modena apennine

late morning, clouds mounting from the south, enwrapping the alpe tre potenze high ridge; but what is done is done: the top is already behind and we are on the way down

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If, for long hikes, the first point is the most important, for shorter walks different situations may occur.  Sometimes the weather is still recovering, and if you wait a bit you may allow the last rain splashes to go away. And, after all, during nice, cool spring days, with stable weather, when the way to go is not so long, you may  also be indulgent with yourself and leave a bit later !
However, the idea to leave early in the morning is quite in line with the più di 1000 concept. To leave early, you have to be on place already the evening before. So you may get in touch with places and have a look around. It is the contrary to “grab and go”, to run to the top and nothing else.
Evaluate yourself, then decide !

Equipment and supplies

Light or heavy
Shoes, backpack, clothes and other
Food and beverages

Light or “heavy” ?

Let me confess: I am among those people who would bring my whole house with me, so take this into account.

più di 1000, equipment, armenia

adequate equiment in your backpack, hat and long sleeves to screen the sun: a security premise also for daily hikes

But I never regretted to have taken with me something that I did not use.
Nor I missed something that I did not take, but only since this never happened to me.
The are things that, in my opinion, you must have with you:

  • Enough clothes, also to face emergencies; that’s true, summer and winter are different matters, but to have a stable basic equipment in your backpack is not a bad idea.
  • Waterproof clothes: if the rain comes and you are not equipped, these can be unpleasant moments.
  • A hat: the sun  is everything but a friend.
  • A thing that is not often mentioned: also in full summer, an ample and light shirt, with long sleeves; to screen you from burning sun, when it is necessary.
  • A change, at least of your socks and underwear T-shirt
  • A whistle: in case of emergency, you will be better heard than using your voice
  • At least during the sunny season: a full protection sunscreen cream.
  • A front light: it can happen to be late and be back when already dark.
  • For food and beverages, see the dedicated paragraph.

In summary, I would say: get acquainted to have with you a decent basic equipment, without exceeding. If you do, this standard weight in your backpack will perfectly fit to you. And you will never regret.

Shoes, backpack, clothes and other

And here comes the difficult part. It is enough to enter a shop to be lost.
To choose what to buy, you cannot avoid to go trial and error, and to use a bit of your previous experience.
Feet are your means of locomotion, and they must feel well. And this will mostly depend on the shoe /  socks combination. For sure, do not think about re-cycled socks; use technical socks, of good thickness. But which ones…  you must decide your own.

Shoes. You can find any type of ground during your hikes. Try to exclude shoes with too thin, not well sculptured soles.  Then, you can range from light trekking shoes, but with adequate sole, to the classical mountain boots.  The first ones can be attractive in summer, especially if  they have a net-like upper, for the fresh feeling they transmit (but wear them anyway together with adequate socks).  If you are able to “walk well”, you can go almost anywhere with them. Of course, on rocky ground you will feel the stones on the sides of your feet, and you may regret a more robust upper. Especially in woodlands, with a mat of leaves on the ground, almost anything can enter in your light shoes.  It is finally a matter of fact that if you want water proof, or thermal insulation, light shoes are not appropriate.
Generally speaking, I would say that light shoes will be feet-friendly for not too long hikes; otherwise, more robust shoes tend to win the game.
While choosing shoes, there is a fundamental point, in my opinion. Forget the old story that new shoes will give pain to your feet at the beginning, then you will get acquainted.  This may be catastrophic. When you try shoes, you must immediately feel well with them.  And with “well” I intend not tight, without any kind of rubbing, anywhere, and that your toes do not impact the shoe tip.

Similar considerations hold for your backpack.  It must be first of all comfortable for you; and here the thing is not easy, since you will try it empty.  Then, do not think about mini-backpacks, that are generally of little use. If you can afford, buying two backpacks  of different size can be a not bad idea: for sure for a half a day spring walk you will not bring the same amount of things as for a full summer daily hike, when you will be loaded with liquids, or for a winter one, when you will be loaded with clothes.  The rain cover is not a negligible accessory. Backpacks are very variable, with respect to the material they are built of: some of them rip off very easily, sometimes not exactly in relation to their price… but more than this, I cannot say.

Clothes. An advice, not original, anyway: dress in layers; bring with you all what you may potentially need. Undress and dress yourself any time you need, do not be afraid of losing time. As an example, during winter hikes along the Ligurian coast it commonly happens to shift from a T-shirt, when you climb uphill, to T-shirt+shirt+sweater+paddled jacket+ K-way, when you stop to eat, a bit up in height.

Hiking poles and your bottom.  I was born without hiking sticks and I am pretty slow to adopt new technology. So I can tell you little. The fact that 90% of people use hiking stick will mean something. But I can say something as well, for sure. You must walk on your feet and legs, not on your arms. You must all the time have firm support on your feet.  Given that, in some cases, the utility of a balance is for granted, most people that I see walking slowly, unstable and at risk of falling are those who load their walking sticks instead of their legs. The same holds with the use of your bottom; in general, we tend to use it  going downhill; it can be a comfortable help, provided you use it for one of its typical functions, that is to sit on it (sit still); but when you start to move down again, you have to stay firmly on your feet; at maximum, use your hands to help; your bottom is not prehensile, and is of a shape that will never hold you.

Food and beverages

Liquids. Somebody drinks a lot, somebody less. It happens to me to drink 6-7 litres of liquids, during full day summer hikes. One thing is for sure: you must timely re-introduce the liquids you lose.
I cannot even tell you that on the mountains you will find water; besides the fact that this is not always true, then:
– you will not always being walking on the mountains;
– water is not always safe; it is not water from the streams;  it may be not water from springs, especially downhill grazing areas.
So, what to do?
You should  know your personal needs, in relation to your hiking program; you should know if you will meet reliable supply points; and bring with you what you need. Of course, each litre is more or less an additional kg, but there is no alternative.
You will lose salts, together with water; losing too much of them may cause you muscle spasms, and also make you lose a bit of clarity of mind.
Then you also burn sugars to produce energy; if you burn too much, you may at least experience hypo-glycemic crisis.
Drinking can be a way to attenuate both problems. In commerce, several drinks containing both sugars and salts are available. Having some with you, besides water, is not a bad idea ! Otherwise, if you really do not like them, you can use powder integrators, to be dissolved in water. There is then somebody using tea, or whatever else can be of personal likes. I use a lot fruit nectars, the dense ones however, that are food and beverage at the same time.

Food. You must have it with you. You may go from some cookies, or dried fruits, for short hikes, to all what you need for intense full day hikes.  Also in this case, personal likes will prevail, besides dietary and common sense basic concetps, that I will not recall here. Some pasta, rice, bread, and something to accompany bread…. I would anyway say to bring something juicy, fruits or vegetables, that help a lot. And, above all: bring food that you like, that you can swallow easily !
Cookies and dried fruits are anyway useful, to chew anytime you feel the need.
I think that candies, the ones with sugar, not the “light” ones, together with a saline-energetic beverage, can be a blessing when you face situations in which you have to produce a peak  effort (sooner or later, it will happen to be late, or to accelerate to avoid rain).

Routes: maps, tracks and marks, times, duration, difficulty

Routes and maps
Tracks and marks
Walking times, duration, difficulties

If you are seeking for guided hikes, it may be that you want to enjoy them without having to deal with the following aspects of organisation.  In this case….. welcome anyway, and I hope to be able to serve you well.
But, it may be that you like to have a minimum of background information.
And, after all, this is a hiking, environment, knowledge web site, which services hopefully go beyond mere hike conduction.

Routes and maps

To decide where to go represents a small project itself; it may start as an idea, almost a dream; then it must be structured.
Starting point is something that hit our imagination. It may be an image, a  memory, an evocative name. It rarely happens to make mistakes:  taking things the right way, almost always we will find something beautiful to see, to listen to, to live.
But, to avoid mistakes and to be able to really live the places, it is necessary that our fantasy is not too compressed by improvisation. We must create adequate space for our fantasy, among the trip, finding where to stay, unexpected facts…; otherwise there is the risk that fantasy could remain prisoner of mis-organisation.
Start with good maps. An advice: forget for a while to be in the digital era. Go with true paper maps. Even well done road maps are very useful instruments to preliminary plan your trip, either a week end or a longer period.  There you have a geographic overview of places, you can start seeing where place of your imagination are. Then,  if to calculate distances and estimate times you prefer Goolge maps, that’s OK; there you can also see all the satellite view details, but do this at a second stage.
For the hiking part  you will then need hiking maps. And here there is no Google anymore.  On hiking maps you have the tracks, and their marks, that you will not find anywhere else, except, perhpas, in some dedicated web sites.
Thing to consider:
– some areas are well equipped with marked tracks, some others are not;
– not always there is an updated available map for areas with marked paths;
– on the contrary, in some other cases you may find more than one. A further advice: if it is affordable for you, buy all the ones you find and compare them; often there are substantial differences in some parts;
– some of the paths represented on maps may be almost disappeared on the ground, or the marks are so old that they are hardly visible;
– sometimes you find apparently perfect tracks on your map, that do not exist, or are very difficult, on the ground;
– in some other cases, the marks on the terrain are update, but the maps are not…
– sometimes you find tracks with multple and different marks; a bad habit, but that is.

più di mille, difficult path, ligurian coast

a difficult and badly marked path, however reported as easy and marked in a very recent hiking map

So, what to do? An ideal situation: to have well done maps, reporting not only the marked tracks, but all the land topography, and to be able to read them. In this way, it will be very difficult to make relevant mistakes. You need some experience but, as soon as you acquire it, your satisfaction will increase. You will be able to estimate distances, slopes, and walking times: this will be the optimal situation to go on a hike first of all safely, then enjoy your itinerary.
Once acquired the material you need, plan your trip / hike on the basis of the time you have available, your experience of the places and with maps.
A  GPS? A very useful instrument for whom is able to use it. Almost for professionals…  It will be almost surely of little use to you to plan and follow your way. Having it  in case of emergency, to communicate your position, is a different matter.

Tracks and marks

più di 1000, cahotic path marks, ligurian apennine

a rather cahotic path marks compilation

The signalled tracks have marks on the ground. The more widesperad system in Italy is by far the one of the CAI (Italian Alpine Club), using white-red marks with a number; there are however some other systems, sometimes prevailing in some areas.
The caos is sometimes generated by systems of fantasy, that overlap to the already existing ones; in this case, other marks do appear, fantasy names, aimed at catching the imagination: the path “of brigands”, “of spirit”, “of strawberries”, “of holy forest” and so on; not to speak about  long trials, like the several “alte vie” (high tracks), the “Italy track” etc. These  initiatives were sometimes also born with good intentions, but almost always on the wave of ideas and available money, that left traces on the land, without thinking that such systems, once done, need to be maintained.

più di 1000, broken path marks, reggio apennine

new path marks built of not adequate materials, already broken

On the contrary, when money is gone,  maintenance ends and everything slowly fades.
It seems that inventing or tracing paths is every now and then a favourite enjoyment for administrators and their consultants. Nowadays it seems that the approach is slowly changing, at least in the intentions, but let’s wait what will happen.
But these details are of no interest to hikers as a principle, but for the confusion they may generate.  It is sometimes therefore necessary to deal with old maps reporting tracks that are presently hard to find; to be on the safe side, it is better to have a “plan B” , before planning a hike, also considering that not finding a path on the ground may at least cause great time loss. Or, better, it may be wise to take the time  for an exploration, and to adopt plan B if you do not find what you expected.

Walking times, duration, difficulties

These are three rather related things. You will find many things written on the available guide books and hiking manuals. So, once more, I will try not to repeat known points, but rather give you some experience-based opinion.

Lets’s start with difficulties

più di 1000, touristic (T) pathway, ligurian apennine

hikers on a touristic pathway (T)

Accepted scales, varying with countries, do exist; they are based on the general characteristics of a track and are reported on almost all the well done guide books, and in several internet sites. You will find some of them also on Wikipedia.
If you refer to the Italian classification, consider that the  T tracks can be afforded by anybody having the luck of being able to walk;  the  E tracks, by almost everybody; the  EE tracks could generate some anxiety to many. Especially for EE tracks, the situations however vary a lot. The classifications are indeed created by men and they always leave some margin of uncertainty.
You will however learn how to evaluate yourself, by experience,  and by comparing the classification of a path with the feeling you will get walking on it, or trying to do: if you do not feel well, give up.

più di 1000, hiker's (E) track,apuanian alps

hiker’s (E) track

più di 1000, an expert hikers (EE) track, portofino mount

an expert hikers (EE) track

 

 

 

 

 

 

Times and durations
Besides the scale of diffculties, many small / big details do not fit into classifcation schemes. Once you decide  that a track is affordable for you, these details may however make the difference in term of  required time, effort and cautions (see the next chapter).
Another topic that you will often find reading guidebook is that the time required for a hike will depend on its upwards and downwards heigth differences and its length. That’s certainly true, but is not the only determinant of duration.
When my first cycle of più di 1000 hikes will be finished, I will also report some quantitative considerations.
For the time being, I note the following points.
It is generally assumed that going up is slower than going down. Let’s say that that’s true in most cases. But you may go down extremely steep descents, with difficult terrain, as slowly as climbing up the same slope, sometimes even slower: the ground type can indeed drastically affect walking speed. If your path is smooth, you go smooth and fast. If it is stony, eroded, covered with leaves, with tall grass that does not allow to see your steps, your walking times will change a lot, with the same length and slope. Therefore, each individual track requires its own time. In this case also, you will satisfactorily learn to evaluate by experience !
There is finally an individual component: some people sky-rocket going up and are as slow as snails going down; this must be taken into account, as well !

più di mille, smooth slope, modena apennine

on this slope you can happily roll down ….

più di 1000, gravel slope, apuanian alps

… but here you will have to slow down

 

 

 

 

 

 

Among things you read on guidebooks, one is certainly true. Besides walking, you must also rest. The rule that about one quarter of the time (so about 15 minutes each hour, or 1 hour each 4)  must be devoted to rest is really golden. Then, it will be your choice how to partition your time: generally  a longer rest is at lunch time, with many shorter ones along the way.
Even in this case, things vary: for a short hike, of which you know the tracks, you may also try a bit yourself, have little rest and walk fast; for long hikes, better to avoid, if not for an emergency.
In any case, forget that the overall duration of your excursion could merely coincide with your walking time !

Cautions and “dangers”

Weather conditions
Track conditions
Other living beings

Weather conditions

This is a critical point, that you find well presented and explained in all the well done hiking guidebooks.  I will therefore spend only few words.

più di mille, fog, apuanian alps

perhaps a fascinating image, but weather conditions to be avoided, as much s possible

Walking must be a pleasure, and an occasion to see and study what is around.  Bad weather…. I try to avoid it. I have gone some hundred hikes never experimenting serious rains, nor walking for hours in the  fog, but only because of a careful programming (and the help of a bit of luck).
But I have all the time in my backpack something exceeding what is strictly necessary. Let’s say that if  bad weather suddenly comes, even to be stuck somewhere, I should have good chance of getting through.  But, until now, I never even approached such a situation, and I hope I never will.
In any case, if something wrong with the weather happens and you find a shelter, stay there until it is over. If you by-passed a potential shelter since few time, or even since longer, but the way back is safer, go back and stay there.
If you really cannot see your way, because of fog or dark, alas, stop in the better conditions you may find. In these cases a GPS may help you, if you are well able to use it, but only if the conditions of the track allow you to walk safely.

Track conditions

You may find several “things” along your tracks.

Exposure. From an objective point of view, exposure coincides with the possibility of not being able to stop in case you fall; it is therefore something not to be taken lightly. Where these situations hold, you need maximum attention. But exposure is also fundamentally the feel of  empty that you may experience while walking on a track. It is really a perception, so something largely individual. Some people do not suffer at all; others, among whom myself,  suffer exposure a lot.
An exposed track may also be very easy, almost flat and with a good ground; but if  you suffer exposure of the side slope, that’s a pain.  If that panic, blocking all your movements, takes you there is nothing to do; this track is not for us, at least not in these conditions.

più di 1000, exposed path, apuanian alps

an exposed path bordering a rocky ridge; almost horizontal but to be avoided if your fear exposure

più di 1000, equipped track, apuanian alps

track equipped with steal cable: to be used to secure yourself, not to be gripped with your hands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cables to which secure yourself can be a lot helpful; or, much less,  the presence of somebody  not suffering exposure; and even less, that of petulant companions each of whom will have his own advice about how to reassure you. As for cables, consider that the steal ones are not there to be hold by hands; in case of need, doing this will be of no use; steal cables are there  only to secure yourself by means of specific safety equipments.

Slippery tracks. A very common situation, in all seasons.  It occurs with a just finished rain, dew, the humidity of valleys or gullies, the crossing of streams… A condition to be always taken with caution, at least to avoid to continuously fall on the ground.  Some very easy stretches of path may become almost impassable when slippery wet. It happened to me to have to give up and turn back. When you are suspicious, carefully try the ground before charging your step. When you cannot see the ground, because of leaf or grass cover, always try and beware that leaves can be very slippery also when very dry. Humid wood is to be avoided, it is soap slippery.

Crossing streams. A very common situation, in some periods and tracks. I here exclude crossing deep and wild water: it is not what I do and what I wish to communicate you to do. So, only situations in which you may get wet, but you do not face big risks, but to slip.

più di 1000, a ford, bologna apennine

the path crossing a stream with a ford: a very common situation

Balancing on slippery stones may be amazing, but increases the possibility of slipping and take a more or less complete bath (generally cold); let’s train yourself, if you want, and if you become an expert, let’s do.
Sometimes, you will definitely have to take the decision to enter into water. Hardliners will do this wearing their boots and socks….. and will stay with wet feet for the rest of the day. If the ground allows, not being too rough or slippery, an advice: take off  shoes and socks, also trousers, if needed; cross and put on your clothes again, remaining dry. I obviously speak about short crossings, where you do not face the risk of freezing your tips!
If however you have to cross several times, undressing and dressing may make you stuck on this stream until night ! You will have therefore to stay with shoes and socks. Unless… you have not been such a clever planner of your hike to have a pair of sandals with you; in this case you can wear them  for a while and go back to your boots later.

Stones, gravel etc. These are inseparable companions of many tracks. If you can see them well and are able to move with “elegance”, they will hardly do any harm.  But, for sure, they will somewhat slow down your walk and you must accept that. When thay are hidden, they can represent a pretty high risk of falling.
Big and mobile stones are the worst. Fine gravel can be misleading: if it is in a thick layer, it can invite to amazing descents (going up is a different story); but, when the layer is thin, laying on sloping and levigated rock, it can create some of the most uncomfortable situations: the risk of slipping is for granted, either going up and down, and your progression will be extremely slow.

Wood. There is now a lot of  wood on paths, since wood naturally falling is not picked anymore by people living in mountains.

più di 1000, fallen tree, ligurian apennine

fallen trees on your path can create nasty situations

In some areas you will also easily find whole trees fallen acrosss your path, always nasty to overtake;  you often have  to turn round them, adding some mounting; when they fall across narrow passages, getting through can also be very difficult;   if a thing like this will happen, preferably do it uphill and evaluate well the situation.
Some paths are however full with fallen wood; in some other cases, the wood is that remaining from forest cuts, that are nowadays badly managed and leave the terrain very dirty. Fallen wood can make your walk a pain. Pieces of wood roll; when wet, they are slippery; in whatever way you stumble on wood the consequences can be unpleasant. Wherever there is wood on the ground, you will have to slow down, there is nothing to do. And do not underevaluate these situations.

Leaves. Leaves on the ground can always hide something. On sloping paths, a leaf mat requires great caution. But also on flat soil, you can end into a mud hole covered with leaves; not dangerous, maybe, but not even too amazing, if not for your hiking companions.

Shortcuts. A very problematic word.  On well tracked paths, shortcuts very often risk to become “long cuts”; especially on the old muletracks, that were built on the needs of men (and mules), with the best compromise between length and slope. Moreover, often shortcuts generate erosion, and they should be better avoided. In some cases they may be  tempting but:
– you must be sure of where they start, where they end and what is between: otherwise avoid them: it can be very dangerous;
– be sure that, to save few metres, you do not end on impossible slopes;
– consider the ground of the shortcut.
In general, I would say that the only case when shortcuts are advantageous is when they are clearly visible, with decent ground, and cross road bends, that notoriously add length to your walk. Sometimes it can happen that silly built forest tracks are very eroded; in these cases, walking on side tracks may be more comfortable and safe.

Other living beings, besides you

Plants
The nastiest plants for you will be for sure  brambles and stinging nettles, both very common, especially in former cultivated fields, now colonised by spontaneous vegetation. You will mainly find brambles at lower heights, whereas stinging nettles live almost everywhere. What to say: wear long trousers and cover your arms with a robust shirt.  The blue jeans tissue, if not too tight, is almost thorn-proof, but it will be rarely part of your wearing, because of other not positive characteristics.  But if you go for short hikes, where you know you will meet spiny plants or nettles, a sturdy jeans jacket will allow you to plunge (almost) un-hurted into this kind of vegetation.
You can then meet other spiny plants, like roses or the Mediterranean salsaparilla, or stinging, like junipers etc.  But if you really end up into a spine field, it will mean at 99% that you missed your track, or that your track does not exist anymore; so, get out and find a different way.

Animals

più di 1000, viper, lunigiana apennine

meeting a viper is not a rare event

The viper  is a hikers’ myth, the dark presence to which several thousands of words and pages were devoted. Only a potential danger. Without debating of the harmfulness of its bite, the chance to be bitten are very close to zero, for a hiker. To be clear, vipers do exist and can be rather commonly seen.  But they will never attack you; if they realise you have seen them, or if they see you, they try to go away. Do not disturb them and you will not get any problem. This however also means avoiding touching them unintentionally. Given that if you by chance will step on a viper with your hiking boots (poor viper!), wearing thick socks and long trousers, a possible reaction will not do you any harm,  it remains to carefully explore the ground when you stop to rest and look well where you put your hands, also when you use them to help your progression through difficult stretches of path.

Insects. One of the most serious dangers is without any doubt represented by hornets and wasps, especially at lower heights. Try to accurately avoid them. Stay away from nests. Generally those insects do not have unexpected reactions,  but you can never know. Do not rummage any cavity, included building doors or shelters, without seeing what is inside. If you are attacked, do not try to run away without controlling the situation; rather, if you have a spare cloth, like a shirt or a jacket,  use it to keep the insect away, while rapidly drawing back; when you arrive at safety distance from their nest, they should generally give up. Do not even go too close to honeybee hives.
Horseflies can be extremely nasty. They are typical  of areas where there is cattle; their sting is not dangerous, but can be very painful. If they target you, they can fly around you forever. They will generally not “land” on you while you are moving. When they alight, it means that they are about to sting: in this moment, you will easily knock them down, but you have to be heavy,  since they are coriaceous, and they also have the habit of letting them fall on the ground, pretending to be dead,  and immediately after start again to annoy you. So, if they landed on your face, be careful not to hurt yourself with too powerful  slaps !
Flies. In marsh or bog areas they can be in exorbitant numbers. After having been inevitably bitten, go away: there is nothing else to do, unless you have an effective repellant with you.

Ticks. Ticks may represent a real problem. They can be abundant in places were there are a lot of animals, domestic or wild. Ticks are slow animals and will generally climb on you during your rests; during the walk it is much more difficult, although not impossible.  Preferably sit on trunks or rocks, not on dense grass. After your stays,  in case of doubt, examine yourself a bit (it may happen that you also have to undress a bit !). If a tick is just climbed on you,  for sure it will not yet have inserted its beak, so it will be easy to shake it away. If you realise of  its presence at home, when already stuck, it will depend on you what to do; with a minimum of experience you can easily remove it using ordinary, flat ended tweezers, without the need of having those kind of gadgets of  “tick tweezers”. But if you do not want, do not even try: go to your family doctor or to first aid, where often they may be not very familiar with ticks,  but they will in some way remove it. Consider however that, if you caught a tick in infected areas, you should anyway consult a doctor, since ticks can transmit a serious disease.

più di mille, spider, bologna apennine

a fat spider on a carrot umbel; although it is shy and harmless, I cannot feel lot of sympathy

Spiders. Even the biggest spiders that you may find in our environments are not dangerous (except a couple of species). But, personally, the idea of having one splashed on me is horrifying. They are among the few animals for which I cannot feel any sympathy, not even seeing them from some distance. Besides this personal feeling, in less trodden paths little spiders use to build their nets just across the way, and you will inevitably break them with different parts of your body, face included; a stick will help doing the job, but it is very unlikely that you could timely see them all.  If you are particularly disgusted of all these spider nets  on you, ask  somebody else to be first….  or at least try to do,  possibly without explaining the reason of your request.

 

più di 1000, wild boars, tuscany apennine

wild boars grazing among tall grass

Wild mammals. Meeting roes, deers, wild boars, moufflons is quite common. They generally simply go away. If they don’t, do not rush away; put you in a safe position, with rocks or trees as shelters and watch what they intend to do. It is extremely unlikely that they could attack you. A different situation may occur if you have a dog with you: wild boars hate dogs and could attack the dog, especially if it barks and wants to disturb them, not you. Unluckily there is no story: boar wins.

 

 

“Domestic” animals. Here the situation is quite different. The domestic animals you may encounter are those more or less freely grazing the ranges, and their guardians (dogs).

più di 1000, shepherd dogs, tuscany apennine

shepherd dogs can also be quiet and friendly, when not busy with their job

Dogs generally accompany sheep, but sometimes also cows. They have well clear what is the border that you should not cross and there is no compromise; if your path crosses a place were there is a flock with dogs, find a different way. If dogs approach you, stay calm and try to go on, letting dogs understand that you are not going to approach the flock. If they do not give up, stay calm again, and try to say simple words, like “no-no”, with very decise but calm voice, never aggressive. Generally they watch you, still bark but, face to your combination of steadiness and availability to go away, nothing will happen. If they really approach too much, do not turn back, but behave the same way, with even more decise attitude, but again without showing any aggressiveness.  Consider that holding a robust stick in your hand will help. Shepherd dogs know it very well; obviously simply hold the stick in hand, without raising it, like a walking stick; do not show any intention to use it; generally that’s enough. But, if you really have to use it (it never happened to me), be very determined…..

più di 1000, goats, apuanian alps

goats like to show their performances to hikers

Sheep, without dogs, are harmless, but I would say that they do not exist; muttons can be agggressive in some period of the year, but the circumstance that you could meet them is so rare, that this does not represent a problem.
Goats of  different kinds tend to go away, showing themselves going up and down the most unaccessible slopes, without moving not even a little piece of gravel; then they watch you with an air of: “but who are those so slow beings, and why should we be afraid of them ?”.

 

Bovines, in dependance of their and your size, will outweight you 4-20 times. To be absolutely avoided. Their temperament depends on breed and on their habit to meet hikers. In crowded hiking areas they are often very amenable and simply curious.

più di 1000, cows, piemonte apennine

peaceful cows, but very big… and behind a fence !

But bovines grazing lonely areas are often fiery animals, sometimes also curious, but generally rather suspicious of strangers. When they have calves, they can have protective actitudes. Do not even think, unless you are very confident, to cross wild range herds in open terrain. Rather go round, and let them know that your way is not their way.  If there is a nearby forest where you could easily walk in, enter it, and by-pass the herd walking among the trees. If the animals are also in the forest, walk around them as you can. But, in any case, walk like your deviation was planned, without showing fear, that is stronlgy perceived by animals.  Do not insist to pass through narrow stretches where there are bovines; rather wait and see if they go away; if you are in a safe position, you may try some little noise and ample waves with your arms, but never aggressively; but if they do not quietly go away, go away yourself.

più di 1000, horses, piemonte apennine

friendly horses and somewhat incautious tourists

 

Horses’ size is almost the same as cows’. Horses are often more active and curious; and also they can be fiery and little friendly with foreigners. It may happen that the herd leader come to you with the air of  “but what damn do you want here”; if it insists, find a shelter and wait that it gets tired of the game and goes away. For the rest, as for cows.

 

 

People. I do not even open the chapter of people with bad intentions, that could exist on the mountains, as anywhere else, since I could not tell you anything useful about this.

più di 1000, wild boar hunters, mount caucaso

wild boar hunters on mount caucaso

Let’s remain with people going hiking “for pleasure”. The biggest danger are stones that, contrary to goats, people abundantly move, much more if they are not used to walk on stony grounds.

Watch above you, and avoid to be under their falling trajectory.  Consider however, that if a stone starts rolling down the slope at risky distance, and does not stop, it may change its direction several times and make big jumps; so, before moving here and there,  wait that the stone is relatively close to you, to be sure of its final direction.

And consider that people enjoying rolling stones down steep slopes, as a game to see what happens, do exist !!!! And it happened to me to meet them  few times.
Avoid as much as possible the areas and days of wild boar hunting. Nothing will  happen to you intentionally but, apart the risk of accidents, you will be unfriendly considered by hunters.