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: www.flickr.com/photos/finny1975, CC BY-SA 2.0
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.
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???)