Piaia – Ciamp – Bramezza – Alleghe
Spring Emotions at the Foot of the Civetta in the Heart of the Dolomites
“[…] and suddenly the Civetta rose up before me like a beautiful ghost, draped in haze against a background of light. I thought it then, for simple breadth and height, for symmetry of outline, for unity of effect, the most ideal and majestic-looking mountain I had ever seen; and I think so still.”.
These were the words chosen by the famous English writer and explorer Amelia B. Edwards to describe the fascinating Mount Civetta to the European audience almost 150 years ago, in her famous Untrodden Peaks and unfrequented Valleys. Undoubtedly, since then, there has been many remarkable changes; the new technologies enable us to explore in a few clicks all the natural beauties of the Earth, accessing almost instantaneously to every attraction of the planet thanks to an unbelievable amount of pictures, videos, reviews and so on. Furthermore, voyagers nowadays have the chance, previously impossible, to reach almost every destination of the planet in no more than a day’s travel.
Nevertheless, in spite of all the wonders that our Earth offers us, the Dolomites are among the few sublime beauties that will never stop to exert an incredible and magnetic fascination on humanity, being able to surprise us with all the strength of their astonishing grandeur.
Today we tell you about a nice post-quarantine trek we did among the peaks of the Marmolada Group; a hike that has Mount Civetta, the “Wall of the Walls”, as its main protagonist. We do this in the hope that our small article will find you well after an epidemic that has shocked the world for months; and in the hope to be able to welcome you soon again in the wild Heart of the Dolomites.
We had the pleasure of being accompanied in this tour by our super Mauro Vattai, Qualified Hiking Guides UIMLA of the Collegio del Veneto, a great friend of ours and sometimes contributor if our blog. We’d like to thank him again for the mervelous hike as well as for the exquisite and generous hospitality of his family.
Mauro is a great expert of the UNESCO Dolomites area (but not only), but he feels in his natural environment above all here, among the peaks of the Marmolada Group, where he walks enraptured and tireless since the day he learnt to stand on his own feet. This young Agordino represents an added value to every trek in the Heart of the Dolomites, because in addition of being a trained and qualified Mountain Guide, he’s a person of various interests and great education, able to make each walk more interesting and pleasant. If you’re around, looking for a valid Mountain Guide to explore the Heart of the Dolomites, Mauro is undoubtedly the person we recommend you to contact and that will never let you down. Thank you again Mauro for the marvelous experience and for the passion you put in your life and job.
A super nice sunny day, with temperatures higher than usual, welcomes us in the marvelous Municipality of San Tomaso Agordino. We had several occasion to talk about this village of the Dolomites on the pages of this blog before, but for those who don’t know the place, San Tomaso is one of that few untouched places of the Dolomites that has maintained practically unvaried its beautiful rural aspects, able to hide marvelous historical and natural treasures and to fascinate more than the majority of the mass-tourism destinations of the Dolomites area. If you want to find out more about this place, feel free to take a look at our dedicated page (click here).
Once we reached the impervious hamlet of Piaia, overlooked by the gigantic Mount Civetta and Mount Pelsa, we found easily the hiking signs to Ciamp and to the Rifugio Sasso Bianco. The trail that leads to these places begins with a wide and comfortable mule track. The road is quite steep since the beginning and made us sweat after a few steps (there are almost 700 meters of altitude gap between Piaia and Ciamp, to be covered on a relatively short road); but the enchanting views on the Civetta (a mountain that will accompany us throughout the whole hike) and aerial views on the Val Cordevole and Conca Agordina gave us the extra fuel to face it without any particular difficult.
After leaving the last houses of the hamlet, we found ourselves surrounded by a very charming Alpine environment, made of beautiful larch woods and small mountain shelters. These lovely woods appear to us dramatically thinned out by the Vaia Storm in October 2018, but not always negatively; the care for the woodlands of the Agordino area, which was a common activity throughout the past centuries, was left aside too often during the 20th Century, when industry became the main livelihood for the Dolomites people. In addition to this, silly reforestation campaigns were carried out during the 60s, by substituting pine woods to the original types of trees present in the area; pine trees consume more oxygen than what they produce during their lifetime and create a humid macroclimate that causes summers to be excessively rainy. So to say, a little bit of cleaning of our woodlands was more than necessary. And everything was fixed carefully after the storm from the Agordino people; along this trail, that finds itself in the core of the area hit by the violence of the winds of the Vaia storm, you won’t find any obstacle. Trail signs are perfect, the paths are carefully cleaned and orderly, no fallen tree impede the passage. This is, of course, the results of the efforts of the Municipality of San Tomaso Agordino and of the many volunteers involved in the care for the territory, to whom our thanks go.
After leaving the mule track, we went on a proper Alpine path that winds through perfumed larch woods, sunny ridges with marvellous views on the Dolomites, charming little valleys crossed by lively brooks. Hiking signs are perfectly visibile and it is almost impossible to get lost here.
Mount Civetta gave us some of its best views here on its famous northwestern wall, the so-called “Reign of the 6th Degree“. There are just a few other observation points around able to give the visitors such a magnificent glance of what the Italian novelist Dino Buzzati used to call “the most fascinating rocky wall of the Alps”. A magic place that enables guests to be immediately projected in the spectacular world of the Dolomites UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site.
And eventually we reached the wonderful meadows of Ciamp. The thrill we felt in this place can barely be described by words and was surely enhanced by the particular sunlight of the moment, that gave to this natural oasis a refined heavenly and bucolic appearance. We felt projected in a timeless place, in which every mountain lover can’t feel but galvanized and enthusiastic.
We were welcomed in this charming corner of the Dolomites UNESCO by the many cozy wooden barns of Ciamp, lovely scattered on a amazingly well-kept lawn. The warmly welcome we received from the local frequenters of the place and owners of the shelters was something genuine and sincere, the result of a centuries-long tradition of selflessly, essential dolomitic hospitality. And, of course, the surroundings are magnificent, in the middle of the peaks of the Marmolada Group and with a one-of-a-kind view on the Civetta.
The morning after, we left towards Bramezza. Al mattino, zaini in spalla, ci dirigiamo verso Bramezza. The gait is certainly not the one of a sporting performance, indeed we stopped many times to take pictures, admire the landscape and talk about the many fascinating legends that surrounds this area of the Dolomites. We met a lot of hikers on the paths towards the top of the Sasso Bianco, a sign that we hope will be positive for our tourist operators that will face soon a Summer season full of uncertainty.
The Sasso Bianco area is one of the most suitable to observe the totality of the Dolomites peaks of the Agordino area, but not only: the view is beautiful also on the Northern Dolomites, the Friuli Dolomites, the Pala Group, Pelmo, Passo Giau and many others.
The walk was delightful, and definitely recommended. The area is plenty of postcard-storely places, and you have the chance to see so many beautiful mountain ranges, from a privileged position. And of course, Mount Civetta dominates the area, playing the role of an ancestral divinity that leads you to discover the almighty world of the Pale Mountains. Absolutely beautiful.
We met also the impressive Piz Landslide, the one that generated the Lake of Alleghe. This place, that underwent tourist promotional works in the past years, is crazy: it’s incredibile to think that, on a January night of many years ago, almost 10 million cubic meters of rock decided to collapse downstream in a few seconds. Scary, of course, but thanks to this unpleasant event, we have nowadays one of the most beautiful and famous lakes of the Dolomites.
A very steep slope leads us to Casera Bur. We met again this place with absolutely positive feelings; this shelter, always open for free to hikers, is set in an enchanting natural context, absolutely recommended.
And short after, we were in Bramezza. The famous “Turkish village” appeared to us in its best dress, with a marvelous view on Alleghe in the valley bottom. It’s something capable of thrilling, and it’s so close to the valley bottom that it’s absolutely a must to go to Bramezza if you are in Alleghe.
We were eventually on the lakeshore of Alleghe in half an hour, through the classic trail that crosses the charming hamlet of Saviner di Calloneghe.
So, positive signs at the foot of the Dolomites in this strange post-quarantine period. Waiting to see how the situation will evolve in the next few weeks, our hoteliers and tourist operators are getting organized regularly for the Summer season. And although uncertainty remains the most common feeling, it is obviously nice to see many guests around and a dynamic atmosphere that accompanies the enjoyment of nature. And, perhaps, Summer will be a success, or at least this is what we wish to our hoteliers.
The trek described in this article, that we hope you liked, can be done also in one day. It is, of course, just one of the many beautiful walks you can do in Agordino, the Heart of the Dolomites. The return to San Tomaso Agordino is granted by the many public and private transports that are active during the main touristic seasons. We definitelo hope to return soon to enjoy the beauty of our land, a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site, with you. And if you like to be guided by some expert local person, keep Mauro into consideration; with him, your experience won’t be just sport, but also culture, history, and above all fun.
As usual, we invite you to leave a comment below and share the article. We’ll see you soon for new adventures and stories from the heart of the Dolomites – See you soon friends!