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Hiking Trails - Percorsi Occitani - Maira Valley, Italy

It is said that a hike in the Percorsi Occitani is like traveling back in time. It is a network of ancient pathways through the Cottian Alps. A lot of the locals still to this day speak the Occitan language. The remoteness of the Maira Valley makes it one of the most untouched corners of northern Italy. The hiking trail links hamlets and villages. It is a nine-day self-guided route and the area has challenging hills, dipping into green valleys, with stays at traditional mountain refuges.

What did you like about the trip?

I like the fact that I feel lost in time when hiking in the Percorsi Occitani. I live in the city and every day I see buildings. Both work and entertainment were confined to a box. So, this hike makes me feel unplugged, and I like nature there.

What are the obstacles and how did you overcome them?

The number one obstacle is the language barrier with the locals there. They speak the Occitan language. I personally only speak English fluently and a little bit of Italian. So, it was hard communicating with the locals there, for directions, etc. I overcame it by constantly referring to my translation book (English - Occitan).

What have you learned from the trip?

I learned the importance of communication during traveling. Sometimes the words we use may not be appropriate. We may mean good, but sometimes words come off as bad. It is key to master the language and go beyond by learning their local slang. But of course, we may take years to do that, so at least have a translator with you!

What gears or tools are essential for the trip?

Of course a hiking backpack with hiking essentials like navigation, first aid, and knife. I also need a good watch. I use a TWELF-X watch during my hike. I need a watch that is water-resistant, in case it rains. TWELF-X watches are also automatic, which is preferable, as I do not need a battery. It would be troublesome if my watch is low in battery. I need to know the time wherever I go.

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