Hello Nicolo, could you please introduce yourself ?
Hello everyone, my name is Nicolo, alias TheVagabondingDaydreamer. I have just graduated in Modern languages in England and I’m now moving back to my home country, Italy. I’m a travel addict. Whenever I have the chance I pack up my stuff and travel. Travelling is the best way to understand the world we live in.
Have you ever gone for a hike ?
Despite the fact that I’m not a very experience trekker, especially on mountains, I completed the Camino the Santiago, roughly 800 km, a couple of years ago. It was an incredible experience, one I would suggest to everyone. The camino pushed me to repeat that kind of experience and that is why I have decided to do the GR20.
Concerning about hiking in your country, could you advise some hikes to our readers ?
In Italy, depending on the type of hike you want to do, there is a great variety of routes. For those who love mountains I would probably suggest to go to the Alps as there are plenty of incredible places you can explore. Otherwise I would also suggest the Basilicata Coast to Coast walk, in the southern part of the country.
Concerning about the GR20, when did you go there ? Which way did you walk on the GR20? Where did you start and finish ?
I started the GR20 on the 23rd of July, with my inseparable companion, my brother Edoardo who also completed the Camino de Santiago. We decided to walk the GR20 from North to South, finishing it in Vizzavona. Our original plan was to do the whole GR20 but the difficulty of the route and the excessive heat made us reconsider that.
What was the context for hiking the GR20 ? How did you prepare yourself to this target ?
We decided to do this hike for the simple pleasure of being far away from everything and society. At times, the fast pace of today’s world makes you want to go back to the simple things of life. Long walks, the silence of the mountains and incredibly wild landscpes.
That was all we wanted. We didn’t prepare much for this experience and that is why we were a bit slower than others but I think that the most important thing in order to complete this tough challenge is your mindset. Motivation and persistency are crucial. Legs follow as a consequence.
Roughly, what equipment did you bring ?
For this experience I bought a WANDRD backpack, in my opinion the best and most innovative one on the market. I found it extremely comfortable because it is precisely made for travellers and hikers who love photography. The bag is made in a way that allows you to bring cameras and lenses, keeping them very safe and always handy. My bag was about 14 kg, 31 L was the volume.
I decided to bring very few clothes to make my bag as light as possible. A couple of tee-shirts, pants and socks were enough for the experience. Make sure you bring clothes that dry up very quickly! We didn’t bring any food and that was a mistake considering the very high cost of food in the refuges.
For what concerns the tent, we brought one but it broke after a few days. I would suggest not to bring a tent with you so your bag is lighter and also because you have to pay to place your tent anyway. Considering the very little money you save bringing your own tent, I don’t think it is worth it.
Your positive feedbacks ?
Everything ! All the very different scenarios you see during the walk are just breathtaking.
I’m not surprised that the GR20 is considered one of the toughest trails in Europe.
There are moments you think you can’t take it anymore but the rewarding feeling you get at the end of the day is bigger than anything else. I felt lucky to be there, I’ve met incredible people and shared with them pain, fatigue, happiness and amusement. The mountain and the whole experience in general have a lot to teach you. You learn that you must respect the mountain and be very careful while doing this route. Also, food is great in Corsica: the saucissons and the cheese sold in the bergeries are some of the tastiest I have ever had to chance to try!
Negative feedbacks ?
If I have to be honest, sometimes the people who manage the refuges were a bit rude but when you travel you can’t always expect to find nice people. It is part of the experience. Unfortunately we also got fleas in a refuge, and this is not a nice experience if you think that there are no pharmacies on the way.
Which were your favorite stage and your favorite shelter ?
My favorite stage was probably the 4th day from Ascu to the the Refuge de Tighjettu, my favourite shelter because of the incredibly friendly atmosphere and the very welcoming manager, Charlie. He told us a lot about Corsica and its culture and it was all very interesting. This stage was probably the toughest one as the climb up to Monte Cinto was long and very challenging. The view from the top was worth every single second of pain.
If you should do again the GR20, what would you change ?
I would personally recommend doing the GR20 in the beginning or at the end of the season when the weather is cooler and there are less people doing it. I would also bring some food and leave the tent at home.
Which advices could you give to people whom are thinking to go for a GR20’s hike ?
Definitely get a guide! We didn’t have one and it caused us several problems on the way. For example we didn’t know where to buy food or where to get water, things that you must know when doing the GR20.
Sometimes, especially the first few days, the GR20 makes you feel very small. Fight the desire to give up and just keep on walking. You will thank yourself at the end of the journey !
Thank you Nicolo for having shared your GR20 feedback !
See you soon on your Instagram account TheVagabondingDaydreamer to discover your next trips !