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Hiking in Canzo (Como): Rifugio Terz'Alpe

All that snow last Wednesday? Pfffffft! Gone in 2 days like some flailing lightweight when the sun blew into town. By Friday it was a definite go for spring hiking conditions anywhere on a south-facing trail, and this is a fairly easy one (ascent of 317 meters) that I suggest if you're not afraid of the woods. I felt as if someone was watching me...

All kidding aside, there is, or there should be, an area along the path where carved wooden creatures exist in il Sentiero dello Spirito del Bosco (the path of the spirit of the woods). Well, not that I was expecting an Ent-like entity to walk up and start shaking my hand or anything, but we didn't see friendly tree people and probably walked right past in our quest to reach that steaming bowl of polenta and cheese at the end of the road. I suspect that if we had explored the large picnic area at the first stop/info point, this guy with the owl may have willingly posed for my lens.
Photo credit:, CC BY-SA 2.0

Getting there

The trailhead to Rifugio Terz'Alpe is a short distance from Canzo at the end of via Gaium [B], but we kept seeing "no entry/parking" signs like these on the way up and thought better to park at the designated areas for visitors [A]. Upon reaching Canzo, look for the "P" on brown street signs to Gajum - ample parking where via Rimembranze and via Gasperi intersect at the cemetary. From there it's only about a 20-minute walk on paved road (uphill of course!) with easy-to-spot GAJUM signs pointing the way. I imagine that this trail is quite popular with families, hikers with dogs, and nature lovers of all ages, thus the need to restrict traffic on weekends when everyone escapes to the mountains to let loose in the woods.

To Rifugio Terz'Alpe

This can be enjoyed as a loop trail - percorso ad anello - tackling thigh-busting Via Per le Alpi on the left and returning by way of Via San Miro. The path initially zigzags through peaceful forest on sun-dappled stones, arriving at the first rest point/info center (40 minutes) where I missed seeing the wood sculptures. From this point, Rifugio Terze'Alpe is a half hour away on flat terrain. The return on via San Miro takes about 45 minutes.

The food

There is nothing like a rustic, hearty meal of polenta taragna (corn and buckwheat polenta), pizzoccheri and cheese made on the premises. Add to that a quarter liter of cheap, local wine and you're set for the lazy stroll back home. The total came to 22€ for 3 plates - cheap! No credit cards or receipt given (i.e. they don't pay taxes???)


K and S said…
very hearty portions for that price! That last pic looks really scary!
Rowena... said…
Kat - heh heh...I was like WHOA there! Today I am paying the price though...I always forget that the sun in winter is very harsh, and even if we remembered our shades, we forgot hats/caps! My brains feel fried today, and my ham strings....ooooh....feel the burn. It took me forever to put this post
I would be up for a walk..especially if its for families too! I do prefer Loop walks, cannot stand walking there and back in a straight line.. ha ha
Frizzy and Bird said…
Looks like a beautiful area and what a wonderful lunch.
RONW said…
unusual restaurant from the outside.
Tamakikat said…
Hi there Rowena.

Great photos. I'm hanging out waiting for a brunch date and the food photo has me drooling.

Rowena! not only did you eat well and push fresh mountain air through your lungs you were able to meet TreeBeard from lord of the rings!

jealous over here very jealous!
I made chicken!
Tina said…
i know this is an odd connection but something about these photos with the imaginative carved tree and the texture of the bark is reminding me of the garden with mosaic structures - Giardino dei Tarocchi - have you been there? A different color scheme but also quite imaginative.
Rowena... said…
Anne - I feel the same as you regarding loop trails...lots more fun on the return back!

Frizzy/Bird - I was amazed at the amount of young families doing this hike. There was one little girl that looked to be around 2 years old. Hiking moms and dads start them early!

RONW - I don't have actual details to back this up, but I've read somewhere that the building was once a fortified monastery??

TK - ha! We were famished after that hike and I probably could have gone for another dish, but did not want to roll myself back down the mountain.

naturalselection - from now on I am keeping a sharp eye on more trees. I could've sworn that I heard "Hey you! I want to be on your blog!"

Tina - I've never heard of Giardino dei Tarocchi, so this bit of info will be filed for future reference! The eyes on the last photo is actually my husband's - photoshopped of course - to lend a more eerie look!

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