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The San Vili Pathway is a spiritual and religious walk in Trentino in Northern Italy. It starts in the beautiful City of Trento and ends in a town called Madonna di Campiglio 100km later. The walk is named after San Vigilio, a Saint who was born in Rome and was the 3rd Bishop of Trento. San Vigilio is famous because of his evangelisation work converting people from Paganism into Christianity. He walked the route himself all the way back in 400AD and after his murder, his body was walked down part of the route back to Trento. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that people started walking this route and the official route of San Vili was opened up in 1988.
I spent 4 days in Trentino experiencing part of the San Vili Trek with the tourism boards- Visit Trentino, Campiglio Dolomiti and Visita Comano.
Whether you’re religious, spiritual, or not, the San Vili Pathway offers one of the best walks in Italy for keen hikers where you can experience local Italian Villages, the Italian Countryside and the mighty Dolomites.
How to Trek the San Vili Pathway?
If you want to walk the whole of the San Vili Pathway you should give yourself at least a week and work out how long the 100km hike will take you. 6-8 days is the suggested time to do the walk.
The San Vili Trek is divided into 6 sections and there are 2 routes which do meet up at times however one route is generally higher and requires walking more inclines whereas the other is lower and therefore flatter.
Although the original way to do the walk is from Trento to Madonna di Campiglio as San Vigilio first did it, our guide said that’s its common for people to walk the other way from Madonna di Campiglio to Trento these days. Mainly because Madonna di Campiglio is in the Mountains at 1550m high so by walking from Trento you will be walking uphill a lot, whereas walking towards Trento will mean more downhill walking.
A recommended way to walk the San Vili Pathway is to get the public bus from Trento in the morning which will take 2 hours to Madonna di Campiglio and start your walk there meaning you do not need to stay overnight in Madonna di Campiglio.
It’s worth noting that the San Vili is not the original Pathway that San Vigilio took. Some parts do join the original walk he did however many parts are not available to walk on. With that being said the idea and significance is still the same.
The San Vili Pathway in Trentino does not require a guide and you can do the walk yourself. There are red and white signs dotted along the route to help keep you on track but I would recommend ensuring you have a good look at a map beforehand and plan your route so you can make it to your accommodation on time.
If you do not want to walk all of the 100km or you do not have time, that’s fine too. There is public transport connecting the towns so you can walk sections and get the bus for sections too.
Things To Do on the San Vili Trek
Walking and taking in the views is of course the main thing you’ll be doing along the San Vili Pathway but that doesn’t mean you won’t see many other things during the day.
The San Vili Trek is not a walk through the wilderness, it is a walk through the Towns and Villages of the region and this is what makes the walk what it is, you’ll really get to see and experience local life in this area.
Churches are a main part of the San Vili Trek, from the small Church of San Vigilio in Ranzo Village to Chiesa di Santo Stefano located on top of a hill just outside of Pinzolo Village there are many impressive and historically important Churches to be seen on the way.
Stenico is a Village nearly half way a long the San Vili route and it’s a really nice place to stop whether you’re passing through or need a day of rest from walking. There are quite a few things to do in Stenico including BoscoArteStenico Open Air Art Museum which I’d really recommend going to on your walk along the San Vili Pathway.
BoscoArteStenico is full of art displays created by many artists all using the natural resources of the area. Their theme in 2019-2020 is UP following the hurricane that happened in this area of Italy in late 2018. (When you’re there look out for the owners dog Silva, she’s beautiful!)
Not far from the Museum is a Botanical Garden and many waterfalls which are all connected by a walkable trail. Rio Bianco is one of the waterfalls and it’s said that it originates in one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world!
Talking of waterfalls, you’ll come across lots of these on the San Vili Pathway too!
If cycling is your thing there are sections of the San Vili Path you can cycle, in particular Val Rendena which is crossed by 25km of cycling path along the Sarca River.
To help your tired feet and bodies there are many wellness centres and activities along the route. For example there are many Spa’s and Spa Hotels in Madonna Di Campiglio and Val Rendena and if thermal water is what you’re after Grand Hotel Terme di Comano Hotel & Spa is the place to go!
A nice touch that I saw is that along the route there are little cabinets and inside they have a notebook for you to sign your name and a stamp if you tend to stamp your hikes.
San Vili Trek Accommodation
Accommodation whilst walking the San Vili Pathway is the hotels, B&B’s and Mountain Huts in the Villages and Towns you’ll pass.
Camping is not common on the pathway and I have been advised that there are no designated camp sites along the route.
Due to how many Towns and Villages there are you have a lot of freedom as to where to stay on your walk and can plan how far you walk each day around this.
As mentioned above Stenico has quite a few things to do so this would make a good base for one night.
San Lorenzo in Banale is a great Village to stop in and it isn’t too far from Trento. It’s been named one of Italy’s most beautiful Villages, here I stayed at Garni Lilly Hotel which I’d recommend.
Spiazzo is another Village I stayed in where I stayed in Casa Moresc. Hotel Garni La Soldanella in the Village of S.Antonio di Mavignola is also somewhere I stayed which isn’t too far from Madonna di Campiglio so this works well as a base for the first night of the walk and I’d recommend it as a good place to stay along the San Vili Trek.
A top tip is to look our for hotels that offer the Visit Trentino Guest Card as the card will give you access into many Churches, Castles and certain public transport for free including the Castle and Ropeway in Trento.
In regards to accommodation in Trento there are many Hotels and Airbnbs available and Trento works as a great base before and after the walk.
Grand Hotel Trento, Hotel America and the Albermonaco are all good hotels to stay in in the centre of Trento and if you want an apartment to really feel like a local check out the many Airbnb’s on offer in Trento!
Food & Drink on San Villi Pathway
Due to the nature of the walk and the Villages you’ll pass, Lunch and Dinner can be eaten in Restaurants and Cafes and there are plenty available, although I would recommend you plan ahead to ensure you will be passing a town with somewhere to eat, especially around lunchtime.
Alternatively I found that many of the hotels were happy to make a packed lunch.
Water is not a problem as there is an abundance of fountains with fresh spring water constantly flowing so you can fill up your water bottle in these!
I hope you enjoy the San Vili Pathway, it’s certainly a unique part of Italy and one of Italy’s best walks!
For more of my posts on Italy see:
I was hosted on this trip by Visit Trentino, Campiglio Dolomiti, Visita Comano and Traverse Events however all thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links at no extra cost to you.