Valle di Gares
Canale d’Agordo | Agordino | Dolomite UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site
The Valle di Gares [Garès or Val de Garès in the dialect of the Valle del Biois] is an enchanting glacial valley of the Dolomites UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site located at the foot of the Pale di San Martino in the Municipality of Canale d’Agordo, Province of Belluno, Veneto Region. The Val di Gares is 7-km long and starts from the last houses of Canale d’Agordo following the course of the Liera River upwards.
The Val di Gares presents itself as a marvellous, pristine natural oasis, scarcely inhabited and because of this almost untouched, rich in interesting tourist attractions: this enchanting hideaway of the Dolomites UNESCO is the ideal place to spend a delightful day with your family as well as to hike on many striking mountain paths or to practice mountain sports in one of the most suggestive alpine environments of the Dolomites UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site.
Institutionally, the Val di Gares is formed by several charming hamlets scattered throughout the main road: Ferrade, La Sota, Campion, Pian de Sabion, Lastei, Palafachina e Pian delle Giare. At the bottom of the valley there’s the small village of Gares that gives its name to the place; it was originally the dwelling place of the miners that worked in the local iron and gold mines, che dà il nome alla valle; si tratta di un nucleo abitativo originariamente sorto come dimora per i minatori occupati nell’estrazione mineraria dalle miniere della valle, now being rediscovered and studied.
Valle di Gares | Shot historical background
The Valle di Gares belonged in the past to its own Regola and was separated from the Forno di Canale’s one. They both were included into the Regole di Soprachiusa (see History of the Agordino).
As for the majority of the Agordino people, also this was in the past a place of mining and metal processing. Metal minerals were extracted from the Val di Gares mines, among which the Sass Negher near Casera Valbona and the Bus de Stol right below Forcella Cesurette (which has recently been restored with a view to future tourism exploitation). After the exctraction operations, minerals were transported near the current Camping Lastei halfway down the valley and then moved to Canale d’Agordo (which was called at the time indeed “Forno di Canale” [Canale Furnace], due to the presence of a huge industrial complex) for the final processing workings.
Nowadays, unfortunately, not much remains from the long mining history of the Gares Valley, but it’s heartening to see how there’s such a strong interest in this and that there have been investments in order to recover and promote this heritage in the whole Agordino area. The hope is that to be able to exploit it for tourism purposes in the next years, in order to further enrich the tourist offer of the beautiful Valle di Gares.
The charming Gares village houses many enchanting, original wook barns of the Dolomites, called Tabià, and the small Alpin Gothic church of the Madonna della Neve (Chiesa della Beata Vergine delle Grazie e di San Gottardo), built in 1732. The Madonna della Neve, celebrated in Italy on August 5th, was in the past the Patronal festival of the valley.
Valle di Gares | Geographical data
The Valle di Gares is surrounded by impressive peaks of the Dolomites UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site, included in the 3rd of the 9 official Dolomites UNESCO Systems, that is the Pale di San Martino, San Lucano, Vette Feltrine e Dolomiti Bellunesi (belonging to the Pale di San Martino Soupergroup according the the International Classification of the Alps SOIUSA).
The valley The valley is set diagonally in a south-western direction between the peaks of the Pale di San Martino and is closed to the South-West by the Altopiano delle Pale di San Martino. On the hydrographic left of the Liera River the valley is delimited by the Pettenassa, Pamina, Tamer and Cimon de la Stia peaks that divede Gares from Falcade; On the hydrographic right the Valle di Gares is delimited by the Monte Pape – Pale di San Lucano Group that divedes Gares from Taibon Agordino.
Famous hiking passes connect the Valle di Gares to the surrounding valleys: Forcella Caoz and Forcella Cesurette on the side of the Valle di San Lucano; Forcella della Stia on the side of Falcade; the Banca de le Fede towards the heart of the Pale di San Martino. These are very famous hiking places among excursionists, with landscapes among the most fascinating of the Pala Group and of the surrounding Dolomites groups.
The so-called Orrido delle Comelle is an impressive natural canyon that connects Pian delle Comelle to the valley floor of Pian de le Giare, forming two marvellous waterfalls (Comelle Alta e Comelle Bassa), also very popular and visited.
Valle di Gares | Infrastructures and Tourism
The Val di Gares is connected to Canale d’Agordo through the Municipal Road, generally open both in Summer and in Winter, and also through the suggestive Canale d’Agordo – Gares Cycle Path. This latter is the ideal proposal to spend a marvellous day in the nature with the whole family, admiring the giants of the Dolomites on a bike.
The village of Gares that overlooks Pian de Giare is a small conglomeration of charming mountain houses in which the beautiful Tabià (wooden barns of the Dolomites) stand out. The charming little church of the Madonna della Neve is open to visitor all-year long; from the village of Gares, following a practical mule track, guests can reach in 45 minutes the charming Agriturismo Malga Stia, the last Malga still present in the Gares Valley, located in a panoramic and marvellous context, or Forcella Stia with a walk of other 45 minutes.
In the hamlet of Pian de Giare lies the Biotopo della Val di Gares, a charming alpine garden adorned with a suggestive promenade around the lake, built with the aim of presenting to the public in an easy and immediate way the faunal and floral richness of the valley. Nearby the Biotopo there’s a modern and cozy picnic area, not far away from the Restaurant Capanna Cima Comelle.
The valley floor of Pian de le Giare is the ideal place for suggestive walks during Summer and hosts the tracks of the Franco Manfroi Cross-Country Ski Center in Winter.
Among the easiest hikes of this area there’s the simple walk that reaches the Comelle Waterfall (Alta and Bassa), a wonder of nature reachable almost to every hiker. With a nice hike, a little bit longer than the one to the Comelle Waterfalls, guests can reach the charming Forcella Campigat, from which it’s easy to access to the Valle di San Lucano in the Municipality of Taibon Agordino, or the Malga Stia and the Cimon de la Stia on the opposite side of the valley.
Among the more challenging hikes there’s the one crossing the famous Orrido delle Comelle and the marvellous Viaz del Bus; from here it’s possible to go up to the Altopiano delle Pale and reach a dense net of high-altitude hiking paths.
The Valle di Gares offers furthermore many climbing boulders, cleaned and prepared by the volunteers of the Appigli Sotto il Muschio Team.
In July 2017, the ASD Dolomiti Sport Republik inaugurated the climbing routes of the falesia “Abisso De Dea” nearby the Comelle Waterfall, a very nice place to practice rock climbing with a marvellous view on the waterfall.
The facility known as El Teazì is a modern alpine Rifugio located a few steps far from Casera Valbona and the Sass Negher Mines; this facility should be active in the next years and be a marvellous point of reference for hikers and nature lovers that visit this valley and the Pale di San Martino.
The particular form of the Val di Gares and its particular weather conditions assure heavy snowfalls and the consequent snow storage until late Spring. These features of the Valle di Gares allowed the cross-country ski discipline to grow and prosper, making the Val Biois a National capital for Nordic skiing and forming dozens of National athletes. In Pian de le Giare nearby the Ristorante Capanna Cima Comelle 8 kilometers of ski tracks are normally accessible to enthusiasts in Winter in the Franco Manfroi Nordic Skiing Center, imminent cross-country ski center dedicated to the National champion from Canale d’Agordo. The center housed in 2017 the Italian National Cross-Country Skiing Championship; it is equipped with rental shop and ski instructors on site; the marvellous landscape is, of course, a remarkable added value to the facility.
To Valle di Gares we dedicatd the following articles:
Tourist Information Office:
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