Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Il Sentiero del Fiume (the River Trail)

A freshwater Blue Lagoon?

Somana, Mandello del Lario (Lecco) - Let me first start out by saying that if you ace this trail with no regrets, then you are definitely EE - Escursionisti Esperti (expert excursionist) - material. This is the hike that gave me a taste of what a via ferrata (english) path might entail, and might I add that it was effin' thrilling? It has been a week since we last hiked this, but the River Trail in Somana left an impression that I can only describe as mind-blowingly incredible. A big thank you to the italian reader who alerted me to this gem of a sentiero!!!


For an easy-to-recognize reference point and beginning from Somana's church square, trailmarker 15b follows along a brief stretch of asphalt before heading down Via dell'Acqua Bianca and the last of the residential homes in town. Great grandaddy fig and cherry trees, and a large clump of tall bamboo line one side of the road before it turns into a dusty mule path leading into the woods. The circle tour itinerary is ideal if you're wanting for a day of adventure, a fair to medium challenge, and are not afraid of heights. Waterproof hiking boots are essential as the path bends, turns and twists in and out of the river, at times becoming part of the flowing torrent itself. It's impossible to lose your way as red paint marks on the surface of rocks/footpath clearly keep hikers from going astray. Simply follow 15b on the way up and 15 on the return down.

La cascataWhen you finally reach the waterfall there is one last, steep climb up (work those muscles!) where it will then point the way back home. This path is not advisable after a recent rain. At the end I've included a list of italian websites that should inspire anyone with the slightest hint of alpine wanderlust, and in the event that you might need a suggestion on where to stay and eat if planning a visit, a link for a multi-lingual b&b (conveniently located at the beginning of the trail) and one of my favorite Slow Food trattorias are also given. Getting to the town was a bit confusing with the gps navigator (it didn't take the one-way streets into consideration) but it's just a matter of following the black on white signs to Somana. Happy Hiking!

Anonymous flowerMotH's GPS tracking of the excursion
Val Meria
www.orsu.it (stunning photos)
.Luca's Flickr (image slideshow)
www.vieferrate.it (click on camera icons)
Bed & Breakfast dell'Acqua Bianca - Somana
Osteria Sali e Tabacchi - Maggiana (in construction)
Google map between the B&B [A] and restaurant [B]



Anonymous RONW said...

hey Rowena, glad you're making the most of the warmer weather.

7:46 PM, June 09, 2009  
Blogger Anne in Oxfordshire said...

What an amazing hike..I would be alright for some of it...but coming down the waterfall would be a scary :-(

8:52 PM, June 09, 2009  
Blogger Rowena... said...

RONW - I grimace as I write this because it dropped down to Haleakala-ish temps within a week from the day of that hike and now. And lest I forget, Mother Nature has been spitting ice pellets at my garden...again!

Anne - Fortunately the trail does not go anywhere near/on that waterfall. It's just for show. The path continues to the left of where I snapped that shot and it's a rapid climb up! A lung buster, I will have to admit.

8:58 PM, June 09, 2009  
Blogger Meagan said...

Packing my pack and lacing my shoes.. Sicily has nothing to compare *sigh* I'm thinking of covering the Cinque Terre for my 30th this August but I dread the heat and the crowds (ohh why couldn't I have been born in May). We'll see how it goes!! Great post, I'll add it to my list!!

10:32 PM, June 09, 2009  
Blogger K and S said...

sounds awesome! though I stopped at "clump of tall bamboo" before reading on...after a rain you may be able to find takenoko (bamboo shoots)!!

1:31 AM, June 10, 2009  
Blogger 2kamuela47 said...

Amazing hike! Enjoy summer!

1:32 AM, June 10, 2009  
Blogger Ciao Chow Linda said...

I love hiking in Italy, but does that trail really require you to scale a mountain and hold onto a chain rail? scary.

2:31 AM, June 10, 2009  
Blogger Rowena... said...

Meagan - if you manage the Cinque Terre in the heat I hope you'll tell us all about it. I've only done segments...not the entire 5...and would love to hear your take on it.

Kat - now this is news to me. Hmmm...maybe I should plant some in our yard! There's a nursery that sells all types of bamboo (and I thought there was only one, the tall kind like in Hawaii).

Laura - is a calorie-burner that's fo' sho'!

CC Linda - yes it does, which is why I strongly advise to forget about doing this hike after a heavy rain. This is just a taste of what a real via ferrata is like. On a scale of 1 to 5, I think it rates as 1 as you aren't using any other special equipment except a firm grip with your own hands. I'm looking forward to the next climb! Wheeeeeee!

8:29 AM, June 10, 2009  
Blogger Coconut Girl Connie said...

When I grow up to be a real blogger, I want ot be just like Rowena...my gosh, you should be Italy's ambassador of Aloha!

9:42 AM, June 10, 2009  
Blogger Rowena... said...

Connie - well you had better start saving up for some basic gear that you'll need on a hike, because rubbah slippahs just won't make the cut. Italy's ambassador of aloha....it does have a nice sound to it!

10:32 AM, June 10, 2009  
Blogger Brad F. said...

Well, what I want to know is... did you pick any of the cherries or figs from the trees you passed, just before it turned into a dusty mule path? ^_^

11:07 AM, June 10, 2009  
Blogger Rowena... said...

Brad - lucky for the figs that they weren't ripe yet, and as for the cherries, they looked to be the sour type that grows rampant all over the woods over here. I don't even think that the birds bother eating them, the spoiled things!

11:56 AM, June 10, 2009  
Blogger Brad F. said...

That's a shame. When I was a kid and we lived in Bell, Germany (outside Hahn AFB), there was a cherry orchard down the street. The old man had two trees set aside for the town kids to climb and pick cherries from. Those things were fantastic. You could also find fresh spring onion growing wild. Rhubarb too. Not that I cared about those two things when I was a kid...

12:16 PM, June 10, 2009  
Anonymous gastroanthropologist said...

I did some Swiss Alps hiking last year when I lived in Geneva - some stunning glaciers but no waterfalls (was April and cold) and certainly no figs or cherries!

7:15 PM, June 11, 2009  
Anonymous manju said...

I love reading stuff like this, but I would be waiting at that B&B (with a good book and bottle of vino) for the group to get back! Where were the pups?

12:02 PM, June 18, 2009  
Blogger Rowena... said...

Manju - the kids stayed home. There is now way we would've been able to haul them along up those chains. Maddie, maybe, but Mister, NO WAY!

9:31 AM, June 19, 2009  

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