To make this journey may require a little training and preparation. The selected stages never go beyond 7 hours of walking, but your tiredness must be taken into account as this can accumulate day after day. Of course, you may like to stop longer in town centres, visiting the places of memory, to take part in village life and meet the local inhabitants: they will be the ones who will turn your trip into a unique experience. A normal walker usually travels at 5kmph, but the difficulty and varying gradients, especially in the mid stages of the journey, may affect the travel programme. The first stage (29.8 km), is the longest, but lacking in any steep sections, there are no large town centres, so more tenacity is required; in the later stages the villages on the Sangro and Aventino rivers cross over continually so it will be possible to also stop at the intermediate town centres found in the guide. This stage follows the hiking trails of the Majella National Park (from Gamberale to Pietrapensieri, Roccaraso), it is highly recommended to leave early in the morning, so that you won’t have to cross through the beech woods at night. In fact It is better to avoid this stage if the weather conditions are poor (i.e.rain or fog) or if you are travelling alone (unless you are an experienced trekker ). The trail runs on tarmac roads, dirt roads and pathways. So you must be very careful when walking along the road where there are vehicles, and please take care when crossing cultivated fields with fruit trees and vegetables gardens. You should never take advantage of Nature’s generosity.
The trail is also suitable for mountain bikes. The idea of the long trail along the Gustav line was based on the experience of a few bikers, who in 2013, on the 70° anniversary of the battle of Sangro, travelled the front line by bike from the mouth of the Sangro river in Abruzzo to the Garigliano river in Lazio. Although for bikers stages can be completed in a few days, we would recommend you take the time to immerse yourself in the slow pace of village life in your encounter between History and Nature.
WHEN TO LEAVE
The best time to start your journey is of course late spring or the beginning of autumn, when temperatures are pleasant and the landscape is resplendent in colour. If you decide to leave around the 25th April, it is possible to take part in the celebration for the “Festa della Liberazione” (commemorating the Liberation from the German occupation), which makes the journey even more rich and fascinating. It is not advised to start the journey in the coldest months, when snowfall reaches the villages in the Upper Sangro and many roads are closed and trails impassable. Plan your journey in advance, checking the availability of accommodation and facilities, as many of the towns you will encounter along your journey do not cater for tourists all year around, and they may not be able to offer a complete range of services.
Comfortable and light equipment are essential for all walkers. Choosing the right pair of walking boots is fundamental for your feet to be comfortable enough and allow you to enjoy your walk, regardless of the make , they should already be broken in, and we also suggest to alternating between walking boots or shoes depending on the kind of ground you are walking on (i.e.tarmac or dirt road). Changing into sandals at the end of the day is also recommended. The backpack should be a hiking model, and should be fitted for each walker’s build and be ample enough to contain your clothes and the right accessories to face a journey in all weather conditions.
THE PASSPORT OF MEMORY
Throughout the journey you will carry a Passport of Memory, a document with space to apply stamps which can be collected along the route. This passport is a record of your journey. At the end of the trip, when you show the completed passport, filled with the stamps to the office, the traveller will then will receive a scroll and a souvenir.
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