The hardest hike in Italy is not in the Dolomites. Even alpine guides admit that the Selvaggio (wild) Blu, a 30-mile trek- climb-rappel on Sardinia's isolated east coast, takes the prize. The terrain is rough, to be sure, with some technical sections (up to about 5.6) and an elevation profile that looks like an EKG chart. The hardships also include a labyrinth of animal paths that make the routefinding diabolically complex, plus scarce drinking water. Why bother? "Sleep on a terrace in a limestone cave perched above the Mediterranean, wander through deep mazes of karst, and enjoy perfect white-sand beaches entirely to yourself to swim and watch the sunset," says photographer Dan Patitucci, who hiked the route with local guide Marcello Cominetti (guidestarmountain.com).
Do it: Allow five days for the best 21-mile section, from Pedra Longa to Cala Sisine. Many trekkers hire a guide, but a British expat who operates a local B&B helps DIY hikers with GPS data (and loaner units), shuttles, and water drops (peteranne.it).