We all know that the start of the year can feel fairly bleak. Days are short, opportunities to get out and about may be limited, and we may be missing the companionship of friends and family who were around over the holiday period.

Ironically, what can be the bleakest time of the year for many is also the time when we traditionally plan our resolutions for the year ahead. Which, in all likelihood, significantly reduces the chance of keeping them!

So why not try a different approach this year? Instead of setting easy-to-break challenges in January, be kinder to yourself by introducing gentler changes to your life, across a period of months.

Start by thinking back over the last year or so and recalling potential pastimes and interests that have attracted your attention. Then consider how you can explore them further.

Discovering a new interest is always rewarding, which is why at Hedonistic Hiking, as well as introducing our guests to the pleasure and benefits of walking, we try to offer extra activities on each tour.

This may be a glimpse of art, a concert or even the opportunity to unearth hidden culinary skills! These are some of the things that have inspired our guests over the years.

Art & Music

Puccini’s music is exquisite in any location but never more so than in his hometown of Lucca. Learn more about his genius as you walk through the pretty countryside around Lucca, then kick back and relax in the evening at an informal concert.

Or if you prefer art, be prepared to be dazzled on a private tour of Byzantine mosaics and monuments in Ravenna.

History

Have you ever considered tracing your own family roots? If you’re fascinated by the past, hiking on any of Italy’s ancient pathways can be extraordinarily emotive.

Go way back in time on an Etruscan trail through central Italy or explore the extraordinary area that straddles Italy and Slovenia and its significance during World War 1.

Food and Cooking

Do you feel that a lifetime of cooking has left you devoid of culinary inspiration? Interestingly, when you’re cooking because you want to, rather than have to, creating delicious dishes takes on a whole new meaning!

Food still has an almost legendary status in Italy, and we can’t think of anywhere better to learn about it. Find out about sourcing the freshest local ingredients and honouring age-old recipes, and learn how to cook traditional dishes in Piedmont, the birthplace of the Slow Food movement.

Wine-tasting

Do you know your Chablis from your Chardonnay? Whilst you may not feel ready for an intensive wine-tasting course, you may like the idea of knowing a little more about the wine you drink.

You can learn about wine on many Italian tours but trips to the tiny Friuli wine region between Italy and Slovenia, and to Piedmont, where we taste the mighty Barolo and Barbaresco wines, are particularly enlightening for wine enthusiasts.

Gardening

The good news is that you don’t have to get your hands dirty to enjoy gardens. Perhaps you’re happy just being surrounded by nature and beautiful landscapes?

Visiting gardens overseas, when you have time to really appreciate their beauty, can trigger off a genuine passion for all things horticultural. Whether it be the magnificent La Foce garden in Tuscany or several of the better-known gardens on Lake Maggiore, your senses will be captured.

Walking for Fitness and Mental Health

Last, but certainly not least, how big a role does walking play in your life? We all know about the physical benefits, but the effect of a daily walk on our mental wellbeing can be just as important.

If you’ve toyed with joining a walking group but have yet to take the plunge, set aside one week this year for a holiday that combines lower-graded walking with other activities, to test the water. It could be the biggest life-changing decision you’ve ever made!

What are your favourite interests and pastimes? Have you developed any new hobbies in recent years? How have they changed your life? Please share your experiences with our community!

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