Between Trentino and the province of Sondrio, there is a via ferrata that takes us to immerse ourselves in the existence of the soldiers who lived, fought, and died up there, at almost three thousand meters, during the First World War that here was also known as the White War due to the perpetual presence of snow and ice. It’s the Sentiero dei Fiori. Come discover it with us!
How to get there
The via ferrata Sentiero dei Fiori is a route that was renovated about ten years ago and follows the very evident and ubiquitous traces of the presence of Italian troops, who conquered these places in 1915 and immediately began fortification works. It starts from the Tonale Pass on the Brescia side, where the cable car station is located, taking us to Passo Paradiso. You can purchase online the combined ticket, called the “Sentiero dei Fiori ticket,” on this website. Upon reaching Passo Paradiso, you continue with the subsequent lifts (one-way ride included in the ticket) that will take you to Passo Presena at the altitude of 3000 meters. Here, the adventure begins! In this regard, we recommend bringing crampons for any eventuality, as it’s possible to encounter snow even in late summer.
To the Passo di Lago Scuro
The trail initially leads us downhill, where you will find the signposts that also point to the Mandrone refuge and Passo Maroccaro. It will be necessary to pay a bit of attention and always follow the indications for the Sentiero dei Fiori. We ascend above Lake Scuro, with the constant background sound of rushing water coming from our left: the glaciers of Lobbia and Mandrone, visible beyond the deep furrow of Val Genova, melt to create magnificent waterfalls that together form the Sarca di Genova river. We continue our walk in this lunar landscape, and after half an hour, we reach the start of the via ferrata, which in a few sections will bring us to the true beginning of the route: thePasso di Lago Scuro.
The life at the front
There would be much to say about this place, but we will limit ourselves to remembering that here was located the highest permanent detachment of Italian troops: a true village capable of accommodating up to 1000 soldiers. We take the remarkable granite staircase (a very hard stone difficult to work) to the right of the pass and ascend to higher altitude, where not far away we will find the rock on which the poor soldiers engraved their names in the granite, and there we reconnect to the safety cable. Not far away, we find a wooden hut, a true small shelter. Reconstructed on the ruins of military barracks by the renowned alpine guide Faustinelli, the “Capanna Faustinelli” Mountain Bivouac of Friends of the Mountain is fully functional, complete with volunteers who will offer you coffee made with a moka on an original military stove in exchange for a donation. We take the opportunity to visit the observatory on the other side of the hut: the view is simply incredible.
The tibetan bridges of Sentiero dei Fiori
We quickly reach the most iconic part of our route, the famous steel Tibetan bridges. They are new, but very similar to the ones used by soldiers during wartime to cross the peak known as the Gendarme. Only later, in 1918, was the tunnel we see on the right carved out. There are two aerial passages, each 52 and 75 meters long. The key here is to not suffer from vertigo and always look ahead! If you don’t feel comfortable, the tunnel is an option to avoid turning back.
The Nido D’Aquila
A little further on, a series of wooden walkways begins. Worth mentioning is the detour for the ascent to the military outpost “Nido d’Aquila” from where you can overlook the entire Presena basin, with an equipped vertical ascent that also serves as the descent route. A little further ahead, the via ferrata ends at the Castellaccio pass with a decidedly somber yet remarkable view: bunkers with wooden debris, and rusty barbed wire everywhere along the border line. Leaving behind us this testament to the human folly called war, we descend thoughtfully along the return path. Arriving at the Paradiso cable car station, for those who wish to delve deeper, there is also a small interactive museum about the White War, housed within a tunnel carved into the rock.
From Passo Presena, descending further, another beautiful itinerary is the one that leads us to discover the lakes and small ponds in the upper part of Val Genova, until reaching the refuge dedicated to the fallen of Adamello, also beloved by Pope John Paul II. But that’s another story… and shall be told another time.
Start: lift Funivia Paradiso
Waymarks: indications to Ferrata Sentiero dei Fiori (white and red)
Lenght: abt 6 km
Traveling time: abt 4 hrs
Families: 👶(kids should be at least 7 years of age, or older)
Pet friendly: Not allowed
Best season: During the summer opening season of the lifts