I had already been to the Le Marche region of Italy during my backpacking trip in 2020 but I focused on the nicest towns to see. I certainly missed the more naturalistic parts. When I returned from Valle d’Aosta, where I worked in a shelter all summer, I had this immense desire to walk long distances and do it once again alone – so Cammino dei Forti was the perfect option.
I was looking for a path that wasn’t too long, mainly in nature and one that was relatively unknown. I remembered the “Way of the Forts” because it aroused my interest in spring, however I put it aside to walk along the Rota Vicentina in Portugal. Cammino dei Forti is a circular route, and it starts and ends in San Severino Marche. The route retraces the area of Alta Marca Maceratese along 120 kilometers of path with a total of five different stages.
Cammino dei Forti (“Way of the Forts”)
One of the reasons why I choose Cammino dei Forti is due to the fact that it has beautiful nature. I liked the idea of going up and down various heights. It runs almost entirely on paths, woods and amidst uncontaminated nature. I was excited about the prospect of reaching peaks as well. My aim was to walk for miles in the woods, without encountering other people.
For this reason, the route is not suited for everyone. Some stages, especially the ones that change in variants, are not easy. This difference in height is not to be underestimated and neither are the routes. I wasn’t searching for a peaceful and flat walk, but rather something that would put me to the test. I can safely say that after completing it, the walk was magical!
The itinerary unites several important fortresses that in ancient times constituted the first defensive line of these once rival territories. From this comes the name. In fact, along the way, we find seven ancient fortresses to be exact. The extraordinary fortresses, however, are not open to the public.
My Favorite Place on the Cammino dei Forti
My preference for walking is in nature, so one destination in particular on the Cammino dei Fort took my breath away. It’s called Buca del Terremoto which is a chasm that opened up due to an earthquake (hence called “terremoto” or earthquake in English). This quake occurred in 1799 and the chasm has an almost circular shape – 50 meters wide and 20 meters deep. The shape was most likely caused by the collapse of an underground cave.
Meeting Friendly Locals Along the Way
I love walking in the low season as the paths are filled with less people or are completely empty. On the Cammino dei Forti, thanks to the low season, and thanks to the fact that it’s new and unknown, I was able to experience the route just as I prefer it: in pure solitude. I didn’t come across many other travelers along the way but I did meet local people with whom I chatted.
They were interested in what I was doing. It’s always great to interact with the locals. In addition to telling you about their land, they have a deep reverence for it and it’s nice to see the love in the eyes of people you don’t know. The locals showed a great interest in me, which was cool since I was just a stranger who backpacks. Yet, they were curious to hear my story.
Accommodation on the Cammino dei Forti
On the way we can find options for overnight stays. The main ones are hotels and agritourism accommodations. These are prevalent because the territory is dotted with small villages and hamlets where there is very little society. My stays were booked in advance because I wasn’t organized enough to do it in a tent. Staying in a tent along the way is still possible.
One of my best memories from the Cammino dei Forti was at the end of the third stage. It was a difficult and tiring stage that challenged me a lot. Stage three finished in a tiny village named Elcito that has only three souls and many cats as inhabitants. There was nothing there. I was worried about how little food I had, especially after such a tough stage. But when I arrived at the apartment where I was going to sleep, I found a bag with food.
I got so excited. The guys who planned the walk for me brought it. It was a nice and unexpected gesture that I will never forget. I had their constant support throughout the Cammino dei Forti. This made the experience even more magical because when there are kind people helping you in the background, you can only be grateful that wonderful people like this exist.
What you Need to Know Before you Go
Like every walk, a minimum of organization is needed. This is especially true for those who want to have their accommodation sorted. You need to book a few days in advance. I don’t enjoy organizing stuff like that. In fact, I booked everything within four days. The most important thing was notifying the facilities that I arrived and ensuring they were open so I would have a place to stay. The rest, I like to have the pleasure of discovery.
Finally, you do need to be reasonably fit to take on the Cammino dei Forti. Being accustomed to walking several kilometers each day, over different heights, is crucial. After conquering the second and third stages, the walking gets easier. If you are worried about your fitness level, you could always join the route from these sections onwards. It will still be incredible!