Unmissable places to climb in Italy

There are many reasons why we travel: the desire to know new places, the thrill of adventure, the desire to explore places far from our routines, where we can take a break from our daily commitments, relaxing and enjoying the landscape. Sometimes the journey is also inner, it pushes us to understand our own limits and often to change in the face of new horizons.

Climbing is nothing more than a real vertical journey, which has always fascinated and captured anyone who is willing to make a little effort and wants to put himself to the test.

It is almost an art, which has followed a long evolution in the course of its history: from the first explorations at the end of 1700, to the great mountaineers of our days, much has changed, from materials to ethics, but what all climbers have in common, through the centuries, is the passion for the mountains and the desire to travel in an alternative way!

Even I, although in my brief mountaineering experience, have been captured by the magic of climbing, discovering the beauty of turning our peninsula, looking for new places to climb. The rock, the landscape, the technique of progression and sometimes even the standard of difficulty change! It’s an always new and unexpected game, to be shared with precious climbing companions, close friends and adventure companions!

If you too have been captured by the magic of vertical travel, here are ten places in Italy that you just can’t miss:

Val di Mello – Lombardy

This green valley of the lower Valtellina, is a real paradise for climbing granitaca. It will welcome you with the quiet of its alpine meadows, and the small rural villages of the valley floor, its cool streams and its imposing walls, surrounded by majestic snowy peaks that exceed 3000m, one of them, the Monte Disgrazia. Since 2009 it has also been a nature reserve, the largest protected area in Lombardy.

The valley was discovered in the 70s by a group of young and enterprising climbers who first climbed its walls, inaugurating a new way of understanding mountaineering, seeing in climbing first of all a game of freedom and creativity. Today there are about 300 routes with several pitches: long cracks and blades or compact plates, which allow elegant steps in adherence, on rock always beautiful.

To tackle these routes, however, you need a good mountaineering experience and strong nerves: as the tradition of the place, the protections are often absent or very far away! Among the most famous routes are “The awakening of Kundalini”, “Rising Moon”, “Unrational Ocean”, “Fairy Hands”,…unmissable masterpieces that attract many climbers every year!

The Valley is also well known for its bouldering, practiced on the large boulders that dot the green meadows of the valley floor, made famous by the international gathering held every year, the Melloblocco.

Sarca Valley – Trentino

This beautiful valley extends between the towns of Arco and Sarche, in the province of Trento, following the course of the river Sarca that crosses it in the valley bottom. An infinite number of routes, both mountaineering and sporting, climb up the walls on the orographic right of the valley: today there are more than 500, and they increase every year!

The real fortune of the valley began in the 90s, when a group of passionate mountaineers began to open new lines, taking care of the nailing and access paths, thus creating a real “amusement park”, both for local climbers and tourists.

The mild climate, due to the influence of the nearby Lake Garda, allows climbing almost every month of the year and gives the valley a slightly Mediterranean flavor, with olive trees and holm oaks growing lushly. It’s always an emotion to hang on the wall and watch the life that flows below, in the fields of apples, vineyards, villages that dot the valley, or admire the green peaks all around and the blue of the many lakes in the valley.

Leafing through a guide you’ll be spoilt for choice! There is something for everyone: from classic to sports routes, to artificial, from long and challenging routes to short ones, suitable for an afternoon in the open air. Among my favourite areas “Mandrea” and “Lo Scudo” of Cima alle Coste, even if it is difficult to find a part where there is not at least one route that deserves to be repeated!

Orco Valley – Piedmont

An uncontaminated valley that opens between the Levante massif and the Gran Paradiso Park, an unmissable place for those who love climbing on granite. The first climbers to draw lines on its walls in the 70s were young people who, with the same spirit of Californian climbers in the Yosemity valley, sought the pleasure of staying on the wall and saw in climbing an inner journey rather than conquering the peaks, overcoming the idea of the struggle with the Alps, thus inaugurating the current of the “New Morning”.

Sergent, Caporal, Vallone di Noaschetta or Piantonetto, are just some of the names of the walls where many lines run, especially in traditional style. The best period for climbing in the Orco valley is between April and November.

Rocca Sbarua – Piedmont

About 50km west of Turin there is a historic place for climbing in Piedmont: the Rocca Sbarua (1050m), which rises above the woods of the Pinerolo plain, on the southern side of Mount Freidur, with a splendid view of Monvisio.

Its solid granite walls offer splendid climbs along cracks, dihedrons and adhesion plates. Every year, in all seasons, many climbers flock to repeat the routes opened by important names in Piedmontese mountaineering, such as Gervasutti, Boccalatte and Motti: the fortress boasts a long historical tradition, as well as about one hundred routes equipped for sports climbing, but also routes with a typically classic flavour.

The Melano refuge is a comfortable and welcoming support point, where you can also enjoy traditional Piedmontese dishes.

Ligurian Final – Liguria

Known throughout Europe, especially for sports climbing, are the magnificent walls of Finale Ligure, about 25 km from Savona. In an area of about 10km square there are more than 150 cliffs, where it climbs all year round thanks to the mild climate and the particular exposure of the walls.

The rock here is unique: limestone drawn in holes, holes and drops of water, vertical reeds and cracks … you can clearly see the game of erosion of the sea through the centuries.

Among the best known are the cliffs of Capo Noli, overlooking the sea, where you can experience the thrill of climbing directly above the blue of the water.

But Finale are also famous for the multi-pitch streets of the “Paretone”, the Bric Pianarella, the highest in the area, surrounded by a fascinating environment. Many of the historic routes, opened since the 70s, have now been rediscovered, but these are still lines with a mountaineering flavour.

In the leftmost sector of the wall there are routes of about 150m: don’t miss the “Fivy” and the “L’impari lotta del conte di Montesordo e del drago sanguinio” routes. The central sector is the one where the best routes are concentrated, which are certainly worth a visit. The right side, after the great erosion, offers some ways of satisfaction such as the “Friendship” and the “Temple of the Psychic Youth”.

Stone of Bismantova – Emilia Romagna

The Stone of Bismantova rises majestically and isolated above the profile of the Emilian Apennines, impossible not to notice it as you walk along the road to Castelnovo ne’ Monti, welcoming and good-natured village that stands at its feet, about 40 km from Reggio Emilia.

It is a large sandstone “stone”, with yellow and grey vertical walls, covered with hazelnut woods and green flowering meadows, surrounded by gentle cultivated hills. Set on the slopes of the Stone, there is an 18th century Benedictine hermitage and a small church.

From the beginning of the 20th century to the present day, many routes have been opened, alpine, sports and artificial. Not to be missed are certainly the routes “Oppio”, “Zuffa-Ruggero”, “Italia ’90”, but the choice is really very wide!

Some areas have been equipped with single pitches, even very demanding, and on the boulders all around you can practice bouldering…in short, there is something for everyone! And after a day spent climbing in this magical place, don’t forget to stop and taste an excellent dish of Emilian cuisine: fried dumplings, cracklings and tortelli!