CHICAGO TRIBUNE TRAVEL: Serious Hiking in Italy

The mountains' elevation isn't stratospheric, but the grades can make your thighs burn. For intrepid hikers looking for even more of a challenge, there are the area's Via Ferrata, or "iron paths."World War I troops installed the original ladders, suspension bridges and rope anchors, and today hikers use them to reach areas that can't be accessed by conventional trails. Dolomite Mountains Ltd., a company that specializes in mountain travel, offers the eight-day Alta Via of World War I: Via Ferrata & Hiking Tour.