Locus Map and The Hero’s Way: Walking with Garibaldi from Rome to Ravenna

Michal, Locus team

by Tim Parks

I came to Locus Map to solve a problem. How to walk 400 miles through Italy, crossing many areas that are hardly popular for tourism or trekking. Italy is not famous for its detailed walking maps.

Why did we want to do this? In 1849, the revolutionary hero Giuseppe Garibaldi, abandoned the defence of Rome which was besieged by 30,000 French soldiers, left the city at night with 4000 men, and tried to march them hundreds of miles north to Venice where another group of rebels had declared Italian independence. They zigzagged back and forth through the Italian Apennines, Lazio, Umbria, Tuscany and the Marches, pursued by French and Austrian armies.

Always a fan of Garibaldi, in 2019 I came across a diary of his aide de camp, Gustav Hofstetter, a Swiss soldier, who describes in great detail the route they took and all the hardships on the way. Suddenly I knew I had to walk the same walk, to get a sense of the epic thing they did, and, since I’m a writer, to write a book comparing Italy then and Italy now.

But nobody walks from city to city today. The only well-marked paths are in the prettiest places, where the tourists go. Google’s route-finder offers only roads and walking along Italian roads out of town is perhaps more dangerous than being hunted by an army. Even when I did find paper maps with paths, they were out of date, and you would need so many they would fill your whole backpack.

Enter Locus Map. My partner, Eleonora, and I downloaded the app, set the algorithm for backpacking and began to plan our route.

I’m not going to pretend it was all plain sailing. The app does everything it can to keep a walker away from busy roads but even Locus Map had trouble figuring out a safe way to walk from the centre of Rome to Tivoli, 30 km to the east. Amazingly, it would know of tiny passages through brambles beneath elevated highways, but then bring you smack up against a huge four lane intersection where you were walking right alongside racing trucks…

… or sometimes it will take you half a mile out of your way to avoid a few hundred yards of road, unaware that you’ll be walking this route at dawn on a Sunday in August and there’s really no problem. There are times when what matters is to get where you’re going before the day is too hot. We were doing the walk at the same time of the year they did: July.

But these are quibbles. Day after day, Locus Map found a way: north up the Tiber river, through the wild landscapes of Sabina, to Terni and Todi…

… across windy plateaus and through deep gorges, up over the high Apennine passes to San Marino and the Adriatic coast.

The facility that allows you to record your movements as you walk with a strong red line is crucial for orientation. You see pretty quickly when you’ve missed a turn, which is all too easy in this kind of terrain where very few of the paths are signed. And it’s great that you can reorganize your route fast when you realize that a path or road isn’t going to work, or that you haven’t the energy to get as far as expected. The profile graph that tells you how much climbing you’ll have to do and, even more crucially, how steep the path is going to be, both up and down, is essential when it comes to figuring out your day and getting in the right mindset.

Garibaldi’s men were poorly supplied, their shoes falling apart, weighed down with rifles and gear; at night they slept on the ground without tents or shelter. We had good light trekking shoes and walking poles, carried only about 7kg in our packs, and managed to find a bed for ourselves every night, even in the most remote villages. Still, we struggled to do the 400 miles in the time they did: 28 days including two days rest. And we didn’t have to do any fighting or shooting on the way. To avoid the armies following him, Garibaldi often took the most arduous routes, through the most empty and magnificent terrain. We’d never have managed to follow him without the help we got from Locus Map. And if we hadn’t managed it, the book would not have been written.

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27 Comments

  1. anonymous
    2. 11. 2023

    Please stop pushing these messages from the app

    • Michal, Locus team
      2. 11. 2023

      Hi, we have taken precautions to keep this particular article out of the system tray. Unfortunately, the precautions obviously didn't work - we'll have to reasses and fix them. Sorry for the inconvenience.

  2. Henk
    2. 11. 2023

    Great story. Thank you for the notification.

  3. Dom
    2. 11. 2023

    En francais, merci. Pensez à tous les utilisateurs.

    • Michal, Locus team
      3. 11. 2023

      Bonjour, désolé pour la gêne occasionnée. Lorsque Locus Map sera utilisé par un plus grand nombre d'utilisateurs français, nous traduirons également les articles en français. En attendant, veuillez utiliser le bouton Google translate.

  4. Basso
    2. 11. 2023

    Locus map funzionava una volta.Adesso non non va

    • Michal, Locus team
      3. 11. 2023

      Hi, we are sorry for any inconvenience. Please, contact our support team at https://help.locusmap.eu/ticket/add and send a detailed description of the problem, including screenshots. We'll do our best to help.

  5. peer-j
    2. 11. 2023

    Sehr gut, mache doch mal bitte eine kurze Info über die Einstellungen, die du für die Tour bei Locus Map genommen hast
    Mit freundlichen Grüßen peer-j

  6. André S.
    2. 11. 2023

    Inspirierend!

  7. Matthias
    2. 11. 2023

    Nice testimonial!
    M.

  8. Frank Stoop
    2. 11. 2023

    Nice story, though with a little over the top advertising of his own book. He is apologized for that, because of his great enthusiasm for LM, of which I am a big fan and multi-user too.

    I do not envy Apple users who still cannot benifit all the great advantages of LM (will this be settled in near future?), but I do understand people who do not want to possess an Iphone, because of a lot more reasons, though..
    Luckily I have an Android device.

    To conclude, LM is -in my opinion- the best routeplanner of this moment, with great features and a flawless recording of your trip. I experienced this on my coast-to-coast-GR11-trip through the Pyrenees, without missing a turn in the not always acurately signed path, as Tim Parks apparently did.

    Thanks Jiří and LM-team. Keep up the good developing work for a better hiking & biking world!
    Frank (bikingbanker.com)

    • Michal, Locus team
      3. 11. 2023

      Hi Frank, thank you for your kind words of support. As for your iOS remark, yes, we're working on an iOS version and the first lite version is being publicly tested, see https://help.locusmap.eu/topic/32424-locus-map-lite-ios-beta-program-open-for-new-testers.

  9. Piotr
    2. 11. 2023

    Great story. Thanks for the notification. I may be even tempted to buy a book, why not?

  10. Cartonio Capazzi
    2. 11. 2023

    Lol the guy that wants the article in French because you should think about all of your users... You should write an article in every language of the world ROFL

    That being said... Exciting trip. Too bad Garibaldi was a disgrace to Italy, which would have had much more prosperity by actually not becoming Italy but remaining two separate states.

  11. Péter Horváth
    3. 11. 2023

    Thanks! It was very interesting!

  12. Luigi da Rimini
    3. 11. 2023

    Grazie per la notizia. Uso LM Classic da anni con soddisfazione e mi fa piacere che venga pubblicizzata con articoli così avventurosi. Continuate così.

  13. No name
    3. 11. 2023

    Dobrá hovadina. Takových příběhů mám stovky, ale Češi jsou národ debilních oslů, takže cokoliv napsat je zašlapáno. Takže ne jen to, co chcete slyšet zde je.

    • Michal, Locus team
      3. 11. 2023

      Nechápeme, co jste se nám tímto snažil sdělit, ale příště prosím bez urážek, abyste se nemusel stydět podepsat.

  14. PetrF
    3. 11. 2023

    To support the other side, let me share that I am happy to be notified about great stories like this by Locus, thank you! Besides learning about the story, it is reassuring to hear that my favorite app keeps rolling!

  15. Anthon
    3. 11. 2023

    Like!

  16. Pedro F
    3. 11. 2023

    While I didn't expect a notification for a short post, it made me want to click and read the whole thing. Sure it is an ad for your App and a Book, but it's nice to read, short and to the point. I love LocusMap by the way. Haven't found anything better in over 5 years! Greetings from Germany.

    • Michal, Locus team
      6. 11. 2023

      Thanks Pedro! Funny that originally we didn't want this article to emerge in the system tray but somehow our "promo-selection" system failed and it made its way there :) So we are happy that almost nobody complaints and on the contrary, everybody finds Tim's journey fascinating.

  17. Hans
    3. 11. 2023

    Fascinating idea. Are the GPS data for this tour available?

    • Michal, Locus team
      6. 11. 2023

      Hi Hans, unfortunately, we don't have the track but I think the author of the article wouldn't mind. Just ask him at www.timparks.com.

  18. Ralf
    5. 11. 2023

    I love the story and I love locus maps. Wherever in the world I am traveling, it has been so useful and detailed, that I never got lost. Even without a internet signal. I tried other map apps, but they do not have the same functionality like locus maps. If I would program a map app, it would be just as locus maps.

    • Michal, Locus team
      6. 11. 2023

      Thanks Ralf! And good luck on your travels!

  19. Johann
    28. 1. 2024

    Great story, thank you. My daughter spending some times vacations at the sourrounding of Terni. (Monterivoso). Would be great, if she could walk a part of this trip.

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