Val Viola offers a long but gentle ascent that leads toward the Swiss border. Situated in the upper reaches of the province of Sondrio, the half pavement/half dirt road running along the length of the valley is popular with people of all ages and fitness levels. We hiked here about a week and a half ago when it was still peak season, and there were mountain bikers pedaling up the path as well. An alpine rifugio/mountain hut (C) awaits hungry appetites at the very end (you can barely make it out in the image above), but we cut the 8km distance down to a little over 7 as soon as we reached the lake. Alternatively you can also avoid walking the whole 8km and hitch a jeep ride from the starting point for 2€ in one direction. It'll drop you off halfway (B) when the service is available, which might be a good idea for tenderfoots.
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Starting in Arnoga (A) at the sharp bend fronting Hotel Li Arnoga, follow the pavement into the woods. The trail is pretty obvious, cutting through patches of forest, green pastures and quiet habitation en route. Asphalt eventually gives way to a mule path and open blue skies everywhere. 7.2 kilometers/4.5 miles was already enough with the heat and glaring sun, so it was a good thing that we had packed our own lunch. Settling down in front of a grouping of large boulders, we could hear marmots calling out - "whistling" - amongst themselves. The valley is also supposed to be rich with mushrooms during funghi season, but you're allowed to look and not touch. Well we were more than content with not touching anything...especially a tiny vipera snake that we happened upon. Final note: parking spots are available a few hundred meters along into the path but you need to get there early to nab them for a small fee. When those are all taken, an ample parking area about 100 meters further up from Hotel Li Arnoga is open for free. And lastly, for those who don't want to/can't walk but would like to chow down at the rifugio, there is transport service upon request. 40€ (8 seats). Don't forget to bring a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.