Our summer holidays may have required a rethink and while seeking things to do closer to home, it doesn’t take long to come up with an exciting alternative: geocaching, an international treasure hunt that simply requires a good pair of walking shoes, a pen and an app.
Adventure is far closer to hand than you might have realized. No need for costly flights or expensive tickets, downloading the official (and free) Geocaching app grants you access to a community of global wanderers: those who seek to make memories, to track down untold treasures, to head into the wilderness for the glory of escape and the thrill of the unknown. Shut the door on your stress and get geocaching. Delve deeper into the Tuscan landscape, savouring the sights and sounds of the place we’re lucky enough to call home.
So, what actually is it? Geocachers hide containers—sometimes containing trinkets—and log their GPS coordinates. You find them, sign a logbook and put them back. There’s not much more to it, but the adrenaline and enjoyment found in thrashing thickets to see what lies there, the gaiety of leaping across streams, climbing trees or even taking a second look at a well- known landmark brings back the childhood thrill and carefree happiness that lies in embracing our surroundings and appreciating them, all the more valuable having been removed from them for so long.
There are over three million caches worldwide and a thriving community in Italy with over 25,000 caches to be found nationally, including those in Florence and nearby. Take the usual and make it unusual by glancing again at a field you drive past on your commute; perhaps it’s the hiding spot for a logbook signed by hundreds throughout the years, each signature enriching the relatively recent tradition. In fact, this year, geocaching celebrates its 20th anniversary with a celebration in Seattle on August 21. You might not get that far to join in the festivities, but you could always mark the occasion by embarking on one of the routes closer to home.
Everyone who wanders the historic streets of Florence wonders about the secrets its narrow alleys hold or the magnificent adventures that took place in years gone by, but you may not have imagined its more contemporary puzzles. Florence bears a Dante-themed cache, a quiz-cache on the Arno, one called “Tracing Leonardo”, and even a cache about Tuscany Wines. Gallivant across the cobbles and experience the city like never before.
There are a few rules to this game. Permission must be granted before you plant something on someone’s property. It must also be marked clearly to avoid creating panic amongst non-geocachers who may come across it accidentally. There is even a wide variety of cache-types. This is no mere hide and seek! From the simple “cache and dash” for an easy urban stroll to a higher difficulty rating across tough terrain, there are even complex puzzle caches for a mental, as well as physical, workout. Events are also held that gather together cachers to clean up areas in a sociable and eco-friendly day out.
Come up with your own cache by sourcing a waterproof container, add camouflage to increase the difficulty, choose a great hiding spot (with permission from land owners) and include a logbook for finders to sign. Place the GPS coordinates in the official Geocaching app and website, and voilà, you are part of the geocaching club! Whether it’s a solitary soul-seeking saunter or a family frolic on a Sunday, geocaching is for all.
The official website at www.geocaching.com lists all the worldwide caches awaiting discovery.
For a local adventure, see www.geocachingitalia.it.