Climbing Above Riva
Wednesday, June 23
You might think that after the non-stop action of the last few days that we would take a bit of a break. You thought wrong. This was Graham and Alanna's final full day with us before heading back, and they wanted another via ferrata outing before heading off. Today was also the day that I had managed to arrange the 'Home Food' culinary outing (it was the only day available that was within the time period that Alanna and Graham were here AND which was not too far away from Riva). You might wonder about what this 'Home Food' thing is, and that is a valid thing about which to wonder. I will explain completely later.
So, suffice it to say: once again, today was a busy day.
The weather was continuing to co-operate. For all of the continuous rain and dreariness of weeks past, we now seemed to be in a period of extended sunshine. No complaints here!
Starting a hike from home
Our ferrata climb for today was on a route called the Via Ferrata del Centenario. It climbs the huge cliffs that are directly above the town of Riva, to a little summit along the crest at the top of the cliffs called Cima SAT. Rather than do a there-and-back route, we decided to place a car in the higher valley on the other side of the cliffs, saving us a bit of distance and a lot of elevation loss (something important for Graham, who I'm sure still had sore knees from yesterday's somewhat punishing descent). So, while the others packed and got ready, Graham and I shuttled one of the cars to the little town of Biacesa, the end point for our outing. We returned back to Riva, parked the other car back into the parking garage, and went back to the apartment.
The access trail to the start of the ferrata starts just meters from the old section of downtown Riva, where we were located. I found it quite neat that, for the first time that I could ever remember in my hiking / climbing experiences, we were starting a hike directly from 'home'. There we were: boots and packs on in our apartment, heading directly out and onto a trail. Cool!
Out we went, down the stairs, and up through the narrow streets of Riva's old town. We turned left and crossed the main road into town from the west, and started up on the wide hard-surface of path 404.
Path 404 led up in switchbacks through the forests on the lower hillside below the steep cliffs. It's clearly a multi-use path, with two little strips meant for mountain bikes. There were a ton of people on the path with us, presumably mostly headed for the historic Bastione tower which which was reachable from along this path.
Presently we reached the Bastione - a striking round (but semi-ruined) tower of nearly white brickwork, looking out over the city of Riva. The Bastione was constructed in the 1500s as a defensive outpost, but destroyed (well, not completely destroyed) by french forces in the 1700s. It's still quite a neat building, and we took a few moments to tour the ruins.
From the Bastione, path 404 continues upwards in switchbacks, although the smooth paved surface now became much more rocky and like a regular trail. The trail switchbacked higher and higher, still in the trees (although with occasional excellent views down to Riva), until we reached a small rifugio-like building (closed when we arrived), where we took a breather and snack break.
Andrew and Jenn at Bastione
Path 404 becomes more rocky
After our snack and break, we continued on up path 404, and soon reached the junction with the small side path that leads up to the start of the ferrata. A short ways further along 404 is a small but interesting-looking mountain chapel. This chapel is brilliantly-lit at night and can be seen from Riva del Garda as a shining beacon far above on the cliff face. We thought it would be neat to quickly go and visit it, and so Pu, myself and Jenn did just that.
The chapel is quite small - perhaps 16 square metres and built in a simple fashion out of concrete, but sits in a wonderful spot and has a simple elegance. The view from the tiered entrance is stupendous, seemingly straight down onto Riva. The chapel was built as a war memorial, and definitely worth a quick visit.
View from Chiesetta S. Barbara
View from Chiesetta S. Barbara