Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lake Como: the Brunate - Montepiatto - Torno trail

Ahhhhh...the celebrity allure of Lago di Como (no small thanks to Georgie). This is a repeat hike accomplished in full compared to the shortened version that we went on 6½ months ago in Hiking above Lake Como: 2 hours tops. This itinerary includes a steep descent to the village Torno where a slow boat takes you back to Como. The path is easy to follow if you look for the Strada Regia signs at the beginning and stick with the Montepiatto trail markers along the way. It's advisable to take the funicular tram up to Brunate (10 minutes). From there, exit the tram, go down the steps and head right. At each of the two forks in the road keep to the left. At the very end of the campo sportivo (sports field) the trail begins.

The main points of interest are ice age stone formations and several tombs which have been carved out of granite rock. (Don't worry, there are no dead people in them.) The tomb (masso avello) has an interesting history in relation to the Roman Empire and more info can be found in the english translation at the end of Pro Loco Torno website. I'm continuing this post 60 minutes into the path from the chapel where we cut it short the first time around.

Comments disabled because we're away for an extended weekend. It's La Vacca or BUST!

Sasso del Lupo (Wolf Rock)

Soon after the chapel, a granite monolith comes into view. Formed by impressive glacial movements that have made it possible to eventually come to rest in the valley, there is a myth which claimed it as the cave of a wolf. According to popular tradition, in this den hid a terrible wolf who kidnapped bad and disobedient children. (A bad apple in every bunch eh?)

Trailmarkers for Torno or Montepiatto

It's worth the extra time to go right and visit the church and Pietra Pendula (suspended stone). After the steps, take the first stony path on the left, then right, then immediately left again through the neighborhood. Signs at the church point the way to Pietra Pendula.

Pietra Pendula

Looking like a gigantic mushroom, the suspended rock is reached a few minutes after the church. From here on we retraced our steps and headed down the rapid, steep decline to Torno. It rivals the Stair Stepper any day.

View of Torno from the lake

We passed on seeing the tombs and took the shortcut to Torno (sharp left at the shrine with Joseph/Baby Jesus). When the town comes into view, head toward the church belfry where the boat landing is located. Map below. This hiker has great photos of the tombs from his trek.

Mr. B says: “That was better than riding the chairlift but when do I get my prosciutto bone?”

*Map of Torno: a yellow arrow with paw prints and purple dots mark the shortcut. To see the tombs, continue straight ahead after the small shrine.
*Public parking: cheaper (3.50 euros for the whole day) at the huge spray fountain a couple hundred feet beyond the Como-Brunate funicular.
*Funicular: 1-way for adult/2.45€, child/1.60€, dogs/0€ (kids under 1 meter travel gratis).
*Torno-Como by boat: dogs pay children's fare at ½ price. 2 adults + 2 "kids" = 9.60€
*Quick bite and yummy gelato: at gelateria Al Molo as soon as you exit the boat landing.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Initiation of Mister B

How to break in a 6-month old dachshund to the thrills of alpine hiking

We're going WHERE?
Wake him out of his cozy dog bed, fasten the collar and leash, and tell him that you swear, you SWEAR on Maddie's prosciutto bone that he'll have the time of his life. And what better trail to work out his solid little legs than one that is named, sort of, after himself — the Sentiero dei Tedeschi, or German's Path.

In Italy a dachshund is a bassotto tedesco, coming from the word basso (short) and the italian word for german (tedesco), as the breed is originally from there. Pondering the Sentiero dei Tedeschi, you don't need to be a history buff to reason that this mountain path was once used by soldiers during World War 1.

The clincher, you may be surprised to learn, is not for the sake of the path's name, but as to how we were going to reach the starting point. Walking was an obvious option but with an altitude difference of 764 meters (2506 feet) spanning between the base town of Peio/Pejo (Trento) and the beginning of the trail at the top of the mountain, it would take forever by foot and on paws. So we did what all young puppies need to do on their initiation to alpine hiking -- we took to the air. A gondola lift would be the first half of the trip. A ski lift, or better yet, single-person chairlift would be the second. A few hikers far below us thought we were quite mad. “Isn't your dog frightened?” one woman yelled out. [Well, yeah...that's why she's staying put in my arms and not wiggling around like a worm, but then that's Maddie. She just knows when to keep her cool.] What went on between Mister B and the Moth is only between those two. All I can say is that when asked if he enjoyed the ride and was ready to do it all over again, all I got was a look that said, “Ach du scheisse!!!” — Holy SH*T!

The details for this hike can be found on MotH's description of Todeschi's path.

What goes up, must come down.

Maddie the alpine westie. She goes where no other westie has gone before.

Looking a bit worse for wear...