In Italy, the Club Alpino Italiano (CAI) was founded on August 12, 1863 by Quintino Sella, a scientist and a statesman from Biella (close to Turin). Just after having climbed M. Monviso, the mountain from which the Po river originates, Quintino Sella had the idea to organize Italian mountaineers into a club, as it had happened the year before in Great Britain and in Austria, and only few months earlier in Switzerland. At the beginning, CAI had its only location in Turin. It soon spread nationwide, from big cities to small towns, from the Alps to the South. CAI is based on the enthusiasm of the members and their voluntary activities.
Today, CAI has over 322,000 members divided into 509 sections and 313 subsections and operates around 749 alpine shelters. Individuals traveling to Italy for alpine hikes, climbs and other outdoor adventure can benefit from membership in CAI. The extensive range of club sections in Italy offers many opportunities for hiking, bicycling, rock climbing, caving, back country skiing, and cross country skiing. Additionally, they promote scientific, educational and cultural events as well as building and maintaining trails.