Arezzo to the Adriatic, that’s the plan. Which suggests crossing the Apennines, Italy’s mountainous backbone.Most hikers stroll these hills within the different route, utilizing the By way of Francigena, the traditional pilgrim path from northern Europe to Rome. However once we made this journey, we had been following within the footsteps of the Risorgimento hero Giuseppe Garibaldi as he tried to march 4,000 males from Rome to Venice after the autumn of the Roman Republic in July 1849.If our route generally appears eccentric, that’s as a result of Garibaldi was making an attempt to dodge 5 Austrian armies. In any occasion, the journey ought to take a couple of week.Your hour within the practice from Florence gives you a glimpse of picturesque Chiantishire: hilltop clumps of cedar and cypress, terraced vineyards and terracotta tiles. This isn’t what you’ll be seeing in your hike. Quaint Tuscany ends in Arezzo. Likewise the area’s nice artwork.So, by all means take a day on this chic metropolis to slake your thirst for magnificence. Piero della Francesca’s battle scenes within the Basilica di San Francesco. Cimabue’s astonishing crucifix in San Domenico. By no means was struggling extra glamorous. Nor may you hope for a extra seductive mixture of stony pomp and shady portico than Arezzo’s Piazza Grande. We spend the night within the Antica Osteria L’Agania, learning our trekking app over pears poached in wine.Piazza Grande in Arezzo. {Photograph}: Sergey Dzyuba/AlamyArezzo closed its gates to Garibaldi. The Austrians arrived and taking pictures started. Below cowl of evening the garibaldini struck east up the valleys. However their route is now a serious highway. We depart at daybreak, strolling the hilltops above it. These are wild, wooded slopes climbing to 1,200 metres, with occasional clearings of tall thistles and gorse. It’s smart to hold loads of meals and water. However the place to cease and eat?Midday finds us toiling by stunted bushes laden with lichens near the border with Umbria. The cracked soil is prickly with creeping grasses. Throughout are damaged rocks, fallen trunks, inexperienced lizards, thick cobwebs. The form of place a knight may go to battle a demon in an etching by Dürer.However as so typically in Italy, once you least count on it, windfall supplies. Nailed to a tree is a scribbled signal on naked board: Il Cappello di Paglia (the straw hat). It’s a farm, with restaurant and bar, in the course of nowhere, full with vegetable backyard, geese and turkeys. We order drinks on a protracted veranda with an unbroken view of hills rolling away in the direction of our aim, Umbria and the medieval borgo of Citerna.Tim Parks strolling close to ArezzoThe village straddles a excessive ridge above the Tiber valley. Garibaldi positioned his one cannon at a monastery window, and educated it on the pursuing Austrians. His wounded males had been tended within the church of San Francesco beside. They couldn’t have identified that the statue of the Madonna watching over them, encrusted with the mud of centuries, was a Donatello. “A should see!” says the padrona of the bar the place we collapse on arrival, shattered after our 19-mile trek. She tells how the masterpiece was lately recognised and restored, nearly chiding us for our languor over bowls of ice-cream. “Go earlier than it closes!”You pay €5 for the providers of a garrulous information decided to let you know all he is aware of earlier than he unlocks the church. However the Madonna is value ready for. Somewhat greater than a metre excessive, with a pink costume, white scarf, golden hair. Her child is nude and plump. The 2 possess one another splendidly, his hand on her neck, her cheek touching his temple. Serving to with the wounded males within the church that day in 1849 was Garibaldi’s spouse, Anita, six months pregnant and worn out with weeks of flight. This imaginative and prescient of supreme maternal ease should have appeared so enviable.Close to the highest day two … a signpost exhibits the wayOn day two we cross the broad Tiber valley, then climb to the excessive cross at Bocca Trabaria, Italy’s watershed. Twenty miles. Within the pre-dawn moonlight, irrigation pumps fling glowing white arcs over darkish stands of tobacco vegetation. There’s a aromatic summery pressure within the air because the earth braces itself for the warmth of day. The Tiber right here is not more than a brownish stream, overhung with elms and myrtle. Garibaldi’s males needed to ford it, slipping between enemies approaching from either side. In San Giustino, nestling beneath the mountain, they stocked up on the native cigars and hurried on. We cross the river on a contemporary bridge, then take pleasure in a cappuccino in Piazza Municipio the place a plaque tells how “the wonderful survivors of the Roman Republic rested right here, amongst villagers overcome with reverence and astonishment”.This can be a marvellous stroll. A steep climb on good paths by fields of cornflowers and cow parsley. Increased up, the woods are nobler and airier than yesterday’s. Occasionally we glimpse somebody mushrooming. A person in a lumberjack shirt lets us peer right into a basket the place fleshy fungi seem like a catch of cuttlefish.On the cross at 1,049 metres we meet the highway that crosses from Umbria to Le Marche. It’s a bleak place, the place the garibaldini arrived after midnight, sleeping on the naked floor. “Garibaldi and Anita,” says a plaque. “These valleys nonetheless hear the echo of their irrepressible craving.” What we hear is the echo of thunder. The peaks are darkish with rain. We quicken our tempo to succeed in the one refuge Google can discover within the neighborhood: the ValdericArte Inventive Residence.Mushrooms … like “cuttlefish”We arrive soaked to the pores and skin, plastered in mud. Deep in a distant valley, that is an previous stone constructing monks as soon as used to retailer logs for charcoal-making. Now an eccentric inventive household have remodeled it into the kind of sanctuary the place wounded heroes go to be cured by Elfin queens. We bathe in a grotto a WC full with bushes and ivies. The meals, from medieval recipes and flavoured with native herbs, is past beautiful. Again on the excessive cross, the garibaldini had nothing to eat that evening, which is why they set off so early for the 14-mile march right down to Mercatello and alongside the banks of the Metauro to Sant’Angelo in Vado, the place catastrophe struck.This space is known as the Mountains of the Moon. Trekking alongside excessive ridges of damaged slate and white mud, you may see why. However the valley is lush and welcoming. At noon, Mercatello is a chiaroscuro of darkish alleys, sunlit church buildings and decaying hovels. Within the afternoon we observe the river 5 miles to Sant’Angelo which proclaims itself as “Residence of the Prized White Truffle”.An arched gate results in a slender road that shoots straight as an arrow to the central piazza. It’s not exhausting to think about a clatter of galloping hooves on the cobbles. Loud cries and clashing sabres. The departing garibaldini had did not safe the gate and had been stunned by a squadron of hussars. Forty males misplaced. We keep in Palazzo Santinelli, a Sixteenth-century mansion turned B&B that boasts a plaque claiming Garibaldi rested right here.From Sant’Angelo you might stroll straight right down to the Adriatic at Pesaro, taking in Urbino on the way in which. However discovering his path blocked by one other Austrian military, Garibaldi turned north to Macerata Feltria, trudging alongside the mattress of the River Foglia – dry in excessive summer time. We attempt to observe, however slip on slimy stones and sink within the mud. Again on extra civilised paths, the guts lifts to the vastness of those rolling uplands, the place distant crags seem like they could be castles and distant tracks snake away into fluffy cloud. You prime a ridge and Macerata Feltria seems beneath, perched on the sting of a gorge, one other breezy mountain borgo of historical streets, statues, pizzerias.San Giovanni in Galilea.Subsequent morning, climbing from Mercato Vecchio to Villagrande, we flip to our proper and see, far beneath, a protracted sunny sparkle on the horizon. The ocean! Our aim at the moment is San Marino. It’s essentially the most spectacular of those walks, by a fluid panorama whose nice slopes appear to shift with the ever-shifting cirrus above. You may by no means be certain how close to or far something is, due to the gorges that fall instantly away the place you thought there was strong floor. In a flip of the top you progress from the tame bucolic landscapes of Samuel Palmer to the wild romance of Caspar Friedrich. Orchard to precipice.The largest plunge of all is the final, 450 metres right down to the tiny San Marino River, then a dizzying zigzag climb up Monte Titano to the place the town perches like a fairytale fantasy. Together with his males on the restrict of their endurance, having been caught in one other ambush on the backside of the gorge, Garibaldi took benefit of San Marino’s impartial standing to open negotiations with Archduke Ernst of Austria, who was threatening to bombard the town. We verify in to Resort La Grotta and marvel that the rich little republic ought to exploit its postage-stamp sovereignty to show and promote automated weapons on its primary buying streets.From right here on it’s as much as you. Rimini is a 15-mile downhill stroll, the place seaside and ombrelloni beckon. However for those who nonetheless have the power, Garibaldi gives two extra days’ arduous mountain climbing. Escaping at evening with 300 stalwarts and the ever-faithful Anita, he used one other dry riverbed to sneak throughout the Austrian traces and march 20 miles north by rugged hills and dusty villages – San Giovanni in Galilea, Sogliano al Rubicone, Longiano – earlier than dropping right down to Cesenatico and commandeering a fleet of fishing boats. All I can say is, for those who do make that trek, the odor of the ocean and the tinkling ice in your spritz on the lungomare, to not point out the fabulous second once you dip your heroic ft within the dazzling Adriatic, will appear all of the extra miraculous.Tim Parks is the creator of The Hero’s Means: Strolling with Garibaldi from Rome to Ravenna (Harvill Secker, £20), which is accessible on the Guardian bookshop