This weekend instead of going to the seaside, I opted for the mountain together with Alle and another friends’ couple. We stayed at our friend Gregorio’ house in Tonezza del Cimone, a small village in the mountains of Vicenza, Veneto, which was our base for the two days.
On the first day, Saturday, we hiked up Mount Pasubio and its famous 52 Galleries Road – an itinerary built by the Italian Regiment during World War I as a safe trail during the conflict with the Austrians. The road is used nowadays as a point of interest of both landscape and historical importance, offering some unique views while walking through history.
We made our way by car from Tonezza beyond passo Xomo, and parked at Bocca di Campiglia, a closer parking lot to the entrance which is however charged: €5 for the day, but careful as it only accepts coins.
From the main entrance (where you will see some panels explaining the history which I suggest you take the time to read) we made our way up on our pace to Rifugio Papa, at 1928m above sea levels. Normally it shouldn’t take more than 3.5 hours to get there, but we went quite slow to truly enjoy the fascinating landscape – and because Alle’s shoes literally fell apart at the very beginning, so we had to stop and fix them every ten minutes… Luckily at Rifugio Papa he was able to buy a new pair, as apparently he wasn’t the only one to have this problem!
Tip: Always check your trekking shoes, as after 10 years the glue goes rotten and before you realize they’ll fall apart at your feet!
Shortly after departing you will encounter the first tunnel, under the name of Captain Zappa, and all the others follow. Some are fairly short while others are very long, such as number 19 which is almost 300m long. These tunnels go upwards in a spiral direction inside the rocky mountains, and they were used during the Great War not only to move up but also as a shelter, guns deposit, and strategic points of attack.
Even though there are a few ‘windows’ in the rocks that let some light in from time to time, the tunnels can be very dark – especially when coming from outside, your eyes are used the the bright light. So don’t forget to bring a torch with you.
I am unfortunately very claustrophobic, something that often has led me into avoiding certain activities around the world. Besides this, I hate finding myself in peach dark places, so you can imagine I was a bit worried about this trek… However, I found it not so difficult as I tried to think about something else while inside the tunnels, and focused on where I was walking (it’s super slippery) and the few bright open-air spots.
Unfortunately after just over 40 galleries we had to change route as the main one with the rest of the tunnels was closed for rock falling risk. And so we took a narrow path surrounded by beautiful greenery that led us to Rifugio Papa in about 45 minutes, just in time for a late lunch! We had the ‘dish of the day’: polenta, sausages and mushrooms (€12), a mixed cheese plate, and a good refreshing beer.
After resting a little while, we moved on downwards through the ‘easy way’, the Scarubbi Road. It would have been also possible to continue the itinerary to the sacred spots, the exact points where the Italians fought with the Austrians, but it was unfortunately too late for us to do so.
In around 3 hours again we were back at the car, having lost the sensibility of our legs, but proud of ourselves for our achievement. 🙂
The day after I was still dead but I agreed on taking another shorter hike, as we took the shorter route (normally it takes you 1.5 hours), but no less beautiful. We left the car at the parking lot in front of the little church on the main road, and in 45 minutes we were on top of Mount Spitz, a mount that sits over Tonezza and is defined by a huge iron cross build in 1950.
We sat there for a long while enjoying the wonderful view that surrounded us…
On the way back we stopped for lunch at Rifugio Melegnon, just after the church, where we had a simply fantastic (and cheap!) lunch.
Finally, it was time to go back home and in a few hours I was able to give a rest to my body on my bed!
Here’s some more photos of us hiking from Alle, enjoy! 🙂