Let’s face it, those 5 minutes climbing the stairs to the ancient citadel aren’t going to cut it. Unfortunately, staggering from wine bar to wine bar doesn’t count as exercise. Anyone suffering from a love affair with the gastronomic delights of their holiday destination, risks coming home with more than they bargained for. And I’m not talking luggage here! Holidays are a time of relaxation and a time to let go, ease off on the diet as well perhaps. But who’d want to forfeit on all the tempting food and drink that’s on offer each day? Surely, that would just be wrong!
Eating and drinking is as much part of the overall holiday experience as anything. Of course you shouldn’t have had that crepe on the city square, that dessert was probably just a little bit too indulgent….did I really need to try the locally-made grappa…twice?
Luckily there is a way around it. Walking holidays are on the up. Combine hiking during the day and a strong focus on local cuisine at night and you’ve got a perfect partnership. Pay your dues during the day, enjoying the vistas while toiling through the countryside, work up that appetite and burn those calories. In the evening it’s time to yield the rewards and indulge in the local fare. Another glass of wine? Yes of course, I’ve been good today!
A cross section of active walking holidays with plenty of room for wining and dining:
Walking and fine dining in Suffolk, UK
The UK is no longer the laughing stock of the culinary world, things are changing rapidly in Blighty, and for the better. Big name chefs such as Ramsay and Blumenthal are leading the way and the country is emerging as a top class culinary destination. This 8 day/7 night walking tour takes in all the best sites of Suffolk, England. Think perfectly preserved medieval villages, pastel coloured cottages with thatched roofs, pristine gardens and rolling country side. As for food, think of picnics along the river Stour, clotted cream tea and scones at tea time, perhaps later in the day a lunch taken at a gastro pub. Dinner is enjoyed in various award winning restaurants across the area.
Volterra and the Marema – Secret Tuscany
Explore a lesser-known part of Tuscany in this 7 day tour of Volterra and Meremma. Rich in history this region once fell under the reign of the fabulously wealthy “Contado” of Sienna. Highlights of the trip include enjoying the frescos of San Gimignano, tasting wine from the village of Bolgheri and visiting Agriturismo Lischeto; a delightful farm producing organic cheese, honey and olive oil, overlooking the medieval town of Volterra. There are 5 walking days, shortest route is 10km the longest is 21km.
Italian Alps – Mont Blanc & Alpine Meadows – Gourmet Walking Holiday
Six days hiking through picturesque alpine beauty, highlighted with picnic lunches and superb local cuisine and wines in the evenings.
A walking day typically constitutes 6 kms of walking. However, these are the Alps and the elevation differences can be significant! Keeping the Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest peak, firmly in sight you spend the next 5 days hiking in the Aosta Valley. Support vehicles are at hand to give you a lift if it all gets too much and staff will make sure you stay well fed.
Parma, Tuscany & Cinque Terre Coast – Prosciutto and Parmesan, Pilgrims and Poets
Parma is het undisputed gourmet capital of Italy. Feast on Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano while you walk the Via Francigena pilgrim route before descending to the Gulf of Poets on the Ligurian coast to explore the quaint villages of the Cinque Terre. 5 days of walking totalling 70-80 kms in total.
The Jewels of Piedmont – A Celebration of Slow Food
Back to one of Italy’s core values on this tour: slow food! Slow Food is a non-profit, eco-gastronomic member-supported organization that was founded in 1989 to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat. Turin is the starting point, nestled at the foot of the mighty Alps. Various walks will take you from one quaint village to the other, sometimes reaching an elevation of more than 2000 meters. The legendary white truffle of Alba is found here, porcini mushrooms, Parmesan and prosciutto are other staples. The region also produces one of the most famous reds of Italy: Barolo.
Tuscany & Umbria – In the Footsteps of Francis of Assisi
Fallow in the footsteps of Francis of Assisi,walking on strade bianche (gravel roads), through vineyards, along woodland tracks and quiet tarmac roads. Explore the magical Casentino region in eastern Tuscany by foot on this 7 day trip. The walking tour starts and ends in Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance.
A week in Tuscany – Chianti, Castles and Tuscan cooking
Enjoy delicious meals, accompanied by fabulous local wines, showcasing the fresh produce that is at the heart of Tuscan cooking. This tour includes a cooking demonstration by a local chef as well as wine and olive oil tastings. Furthermore, the cultural component is firmly in place with visits to Sienna and various other quaint hamlets such as Greve-in-Chianti. . The tour is concluded with a fabulous leisurely lunch at the renowned Ristorante Lamole high in the Chianti hills.