1) The ‘Lago di Vedana’ Trail: an Easy Walk Along the Lake of the ‘Certosini’.
Altitude difference: minimal; difficulty: easy; duration: approx. 0h30. Starting point: by the lake shore; marked with vertical signs and themed boards. Environmental features: typical morphology of landslide deposits and ice hollows from the glaciations. The trail can be temporarily impracticable if the water levels are high. Characteristic is the blossoming of waterlilies during the summer months. Fishing is possible, but only with a permit. Historic and architectonic features: beautiful views over the Certosa di Vedana (Charterhouse), but only in autumn-winter (when the canopies of the trees are thinner).
‘Lago di Vedana’ is the name of a trail that goes around the small lake bearing the same name, situated to the SE of Piz de Vedana (1,324 m). Of rather modest dimensions, this small lake is what remains of the landscape carved by the passage of the Cordevole stream, which subsequently chose to travel a rather different route. It is a lake that formed itself after the withdrawal of the glaciers and following landslide phenomena and natural blockages. Its waters are still and seem to rest beside the mountains that tower above it. Only very few water veins feed this small lake, which basically awaits for the rain to fall or the snow to melt in spring in order to replenish itself. The peaks of both Piz de Vedana and Monte Peron (1,486 m) are mirrored in its waters.
Even though basically enclosed by the rugged south-eastern flanks of nearby Piz de Vedana – and despite having been abandoned by the course of the Cordevole – this lake has nevertheless outlived this ‘abandonment’. Open towards the side of Monte Peron, the ‘Lago di Vedana’ conveys a typically romantic atmosphere. On the southern side of the lake, by an outhouse, a board signals the beginning of the trail, which goes all along its banks, accompanied by abundant vegetation and a natural bounty that enriches it. Not just plants and flowers, however; not just animals in this mixed environment already designated as a ‘biotope’: along the nature trail – which is just above 1 km long – one must really train oneself to look closely. While thirty minutes will be enough for the average visitor to cover the distance around the small lake, to the careful observer who likes to pay attention to details a much longer time will definitely be needed.
2) The ‘Masiere di Vedana’: an Easy Trail in the Disorder of Nature.
An itinerary through meadows, patches of woodland and atmospheric nooks in the area of the eerie ‘Masiere di Vedana’. Altitude difference: minimal; difficulty: easy; duration: approx. 1h15. Starting point: by the lake shore; marked with vertical signs and themed boards. Environmental features: small moraine hills; ice basins (residue of the glaciations); gravels from the Cordevole – swallowed by the boulders of the last landslide from Monte Peron – and peat bogs. Historic and architectonic features: view over the Certosa di Vedana (Charterhouse), the church of San Gottardo and the opening of the Val Cordevole. The signs include an orienteering board on the panoramic point, for an adequate geographical overview of the surrounding mountains.
Beside the lake of Vedana, the ‘Masiere di Vedana’ are a chaotic mass of rocks; a varied jumble of moraines (hills), of contrasting aspect. This is an itinerary which has been created by man, about 4 km long. A board located on the southern edge of the lake – in the vicinity of the parking lot – signals the beginning of the ‘Masiere’ trail, which penetrates amongst the vegetation and proceeds eastbound in an environment populated by scattered rocks, where nature appears rather disorderly but nonetheless beautiful. This itinerary is a walk that constantly goes up and down, which eventually leads in the vicinity of a house. A sign indicates to take to the right (towards SE): the fascination of this chaotic landscape is in evidence here; nothing is repeated, nothing stays the same – the materials transported by the Cordevole and those which are the product of an historic landslide from Monte Peron (1,486 m) have deposited and accumulated. But there is also a first clearing – like a small green oasis – where the vegetation has not grown.
Here we are in the vicinity of a locality known as ‘Alla Casera’: the rock boulders seem to have been stopped by an invisible but determined hand. For a few metres, our itinerary follows to the left the road that goes towards the settlements of Torbe and Gron, but we soon abandon it to go back to the greenery of meadows, veering once more to the left, directed eastbound. We are again being accompanied by rocks, stones and dry stone walls; the vegetation is predominantly being composed of Hop Hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia), Manna Ash (Fraxinus ornus) and Pubescent Oak (Quercus pubescens). Some rock boulders beside the trail seem to be about to precipitate on to the walker, and can look threatening; some others, on the contrary, seem to be lying on a soft, sliding bed of rocks; in either case, what we are currently looking at is something that bears the mark of geologic time – so there aren’t really any actual dangers.
A stand of beech emerges suddenly from the ground, and it looks like a water sprout. At a junction we take to the left; the mountains can be glimpsed through the vegetation from here, and they accompany us silently, with discretion. The environment then becomes devoid of vegetation, and instead we have meadows and small cultivated patches of land. We find ourselves just to the west of the locality Prà di Vedana, where water would once stagnate because of the impermeable soils. The mountains here take shape in front of our eyes; then there is a tiny road with houses. We turn right and do not follow the lane that leads to the houses; to the side, there is a chaotic mass of rocks that were abandoned here by the Cordevole ice sheet as it retreated. We then rise in the woodland next to overhanging rocks, immersed in a romantic scenery along the path, which has now become somewhat narrower. Here a sublime landscape dominates, with somber tints and towering rocks. In the vicinity of a great boulder is a stand of Pubescent Oak.
The section of trail that now accompanies us towards a flat area beside a fence also thrives on intense contrasts. A last small rise leads us to reach a modest but panoramic height: to the north the Certosa di Vedana is visible with its historic outline, and it appears as still solidly rooted in the land today as it has always been; then also the church of San Gottardo with its bell tower comes into sight. But towards the Val Cordevole – which lies further to the north – the horizon opens wider, and the sight is closed off at a greater distance. More to the east, sinks the area of the so-called ‘Masiere’ proper and, where the vegetation is missing, there are deposits of rocks and isolated boulders; the place is well-equipped for a pleasant rest.
We skirt to the south a hillock bordered by dry stone walls and small terraces – made less evident because of their state of abandonment and by being invaded by the vegetation; then one returns in the middle of a chaotic nature. We leave some trails to the left, until we close the loop (circular trail) by crossing the carriage way that comes from the locality ‘Alla Casera’. From here, the itinerary corresponds to that of the first section of the trail, but in reversed order. On the whole, covering this route takes a little over an hour – but one also needs to take into account the time for pauses and meditations. On the eastern side of the ‘Masiere’, near a quarry, we would also like to point out some great boulders that are sometimes used for rock climbing; if you are into this sport, there are many signalled and well-equipped climbing routes over these rocks.
3) The ‘Passerella’
(Pedestrian Bridge): A Walk Between Nature and Spirituality.
Circular trail from Peron, through San Gottardo and the Certosa di Vedana. Altitude difference: minimal; difficulty: easy; duration: approx. 1h30. Starting point: at Peron, by the pedestrian bridge; marked with vertical signs and themed boards. Environmental features: a well-preserved section of the ancient landslide (‘macereto’); banks of the Cordevole stream. Historic and architectonic features: church of Santa Caterina and surviving remains of the ancient hostel and ‘stallo’ (stable buildings). There are also commemorative plaques that recall the partisan activity in the area (1944-45), as well as the sanctuary of San Gottardo – with sculpted altars, notable paintings and curious ex-voto (including crutches, as San Gottardo is the guardian saint for those with walking difficulties). In the vicinity is also an aircraft modelling field.
In correspondence of Sass del Peron and of the ancient hostel (‘ospitale’), a long pedestrian bridge suspended above the Cordevole allows to cross the stream and to reach the western bank, in an area which is also quite frequented for its beaches during the summer months. On the western side of the stream, the gaze can linger for a while over Monte Peron (1,486 m), the Palazza (1,909 m) and Piz de Vedana (1,324 m). One then takes to the right, keeping to the side of wide meadows; here and there, are raised earth banks, with trees that interrupt the monotonous aspect of the riverside plains. At the first junction, we bear left, while towards the SW appear for a moment the majestic buildings of the Certosa di Vedana. We then skirt another elevated embankment above the riverside plains, protected by dry stone walls, and thus reach the village of San Gottardo, where the severity of the mountain landscape with its rocky crags is interrupted for a short while, giving way to a small flat area over which are laid a few sparse houses and farmsteads – plus the ancient church.
A lane that rises takes us precisely to the church and the centre of the village, where once was located an hostel for the pilgrims. In correspondence of a bend to the right, under the church – where a country lane branches off to the left – we take a path that is directed in a SW-ly direction. Here the environment becomes tormented, and the rock boulders are amassed to our left; shortly, we reach the road that connects the village to the Charterhouse. Beyond the high walls of the Certosa – that have protected the peace and silence of this spiritual oasis for centuries – one can glimpse a chapel, to the side of which a small cemetery hosts the remains of many monks who have lived in this place of meditation and prayer. We now proceed towards the south, accompanied by the walls – painted pale yellow – that protect in part the view over the Charterhouse and its cells, over which the sight can linger for a short while. In a little, the lane is over, and we enter the road that connects Mas to Mis; here, the view over the sanctuary – together with the surrounding nature and the mountains overlooking it – is really atmospheric.
The eyesight does not tire to observe; to browse over the many details: this work of man is perfectly inserted in the surrounding environment; in the relative wildness of this landscape. It is hoped that this magic; this spell created by a harmonious symbiosis between man and nature can last that much longer, despite the changes all around. From here, the bell tower of the church at Vedana – elevated above the building and displaying an open-air turret – appears to be competing in height with the bold pyramid of Piz de Vedana in the background: time seems to be holding still; after the disappearance of the ‘Certosini’ (monks) – even though that time will not come back – still to this day one can hear the nostalgic toll of the bells that dispense their sound over the surroundings: the only sign of the life that once was to have remained intact. We then take from here the tarred road towards the SE that leads to Mas, leaving it for another lane to the left that takes to San Gottardo, and following the latter for a short stretch. With another untarred lane to the right, we finally reach the pedestrian bridge above the Cordevole, which we then cross again, thus returning to the starting point and closing the roundtrip (loop).
4) Girolamo Segato Trail: a Trail Through the Places of this Eminent Erudite.
Circular Trail from Torbe through the ‘Bosco di Gron’, the Masiere di Vedana, the hamlet of San Gottardo and the Certosa di Vedana. Altitude difference: about 200 m; difficulty: easy-medium. Parking: in front of Torbe social centre; marked with horizontal and vertical yellow signs. Environmental features: views from the Loere and in the area of Mede; Miocenic sandstone with molasses outcropping in the locality of Forzela; rock-climbing and ‘bouldering’ training site in the vicinity of Prà Vedana; fossil imprints of Zoophycos at the junction for the locality of Le Rosse. Historic and architectonic features: church of Santa Teresa in Torbe; Peron Pedestrian Bridge (‘Passerella’; see trail no. 3); hamlet and sanctuary of San Gottardo; views over the Certosa di Vedana.
Girolamo Segato is perhaps the most mysterious among the famous man to have lived in the region of the Belluno Dolomites: he was a naturalist, explorer, Egyptologist, and the creator of a technique (secret to this day) in order to conserve – by petrifying them – organs and tissues. To him is dedicated this itinerary that starts from the locality of Torbe (387 m), in the vicinity of the small church of Santa Teresa, and which goes initially along a lane that leads towards the locality of Gron (in the SW-ly direction). We will walk for about 100 metres while flanking cone-shaped moraine deposits (the so-called Mede); then, we take a tiny tarmac road to the left that needs to be abandoned to turn right after a short while.
Rising amongst the thick vegetation by following a zig-zagging tarred lane, and reaching the summit of a 457 m high hill (through the so-called ‘Bosco di Gron’ – a beautiful woodland patch, with magnificent chestnut specimens), we climb over the hill, thus descending on the opposite side through a path, then turn left along a carriageway that must be followed in order to reach the locality of Case Loere. We keep going along a tarred country lane, but soon we will need to leave it, turn right, and follow a grassy track that subsequently veers to the left among the vegetation while crossing a clearing. At a junction, we continue straight on another tarmac road; at the successive junction we take right, then left, leaving the tarred lane for a unpaved road in the locality of Forzela. We skirt a meadowland that allows our gaze to roam; then we start climbing again. After a short stretch, at a junction to the left, we cross another tarred country lane. Still to the left, is a house with an annexed rustic building and then – in correspondence of a second house to the right – we abandon the tarred lane to pass under a large boulder. We ignore a private road to our right and continue on the path along a modest rise, until we cross a flat grassy track and intercept the ‘Masiere di Vedana’ itinerary (see no. 1), with which we will share a section.
At a junction to the right and at the limit of the vegetation – as the ‘Masiere’ trail veers more to the right to ascend the Col Belvedere, via a tarmac road – we skirt the houses of Prà Vedana, with rewarding views over the surrounding mountains. We now take a carriageway on the left that reaches the road connecting Mas to Mis; we continue to bear left for another 50 m (circa), then take to the right in correspondence of a parking lot, to rise along the banks of the Cordevole and gain first the Peron Pedestrian Bridge (‘Passerella’) – which crosses the stream – then the hamlet of San Gottardo. We now follow the little lane that takes us towards the Certosa di Vedana (Charterhouse), then abandon it to turn right just after the village sign.
This section of the trail takes us round the walls that have defended for centuries the spirituality of this incredible building – now unfortunately somewhat faded – until we cross an unpaved lane which we will follow down for a while, to subsequently meet the road for Le Rosse. Always descending, we then reach the Mas-Mis connecting road and follow it to the left in the direction of the Charterhouse, until – in correspondence of a rest area with a spring and benches (known as ‘Le Fontanelle’) – we abandon the road, take to the right and cross an area rich in water. Lower down we reach the Laghetto di Vedana, which we will circumvent until an outhouse on its southern side. From the clearing in front of the building, we then exit onto the road that leads back to Torbe and take it to the right until – after about 100 metres – we turn left along an unpaved lane towards some isolated houses, and finally reach the village of Torbe, with its tiny church of Santa Teresa.
Medium-Long Distance Trails in the Vedana Area.
The territory of the ‘Masiere di Vedana’ is crossed by some important medium-long distance trails, of either spiritual or historic-natural interest:
a) The “Sentiero delle Chiesette Pedemontane” (‘Trail of the Abandoned Churches’)
Indicated with signs, vertical boards and illustrative panels: marked with horizontal purple-and-white bands. Altitude difference: about 1,200 metres; duration: approx. 6 hrs; difficulty: medium. Parking: in the area of the ‘Masiere’, in the vicinity of the bridge at Regolanova.
This is an itinerary in 13 stages on the southern border of the PNDB, from Croce d’Aune to Ponte nelle Alpi. The territory of the ‘Masiere di Vedana’ is covered by stage no. 10, from Santa Giuliana di Regolanova to the church of San Giorgio at the foot of the homonymous Ponta situated at the south-easterly margin of Monte Peron. Website: www.dolomitipark.it
b) The “Via degli Ospizi” (‘The Hospice's Way’)
Indicated with signs, vertical boards and illustrative panels. Altitude difference: about 550 m; duration: approx. 7-8 hrs; difficulty: medium. Parking: in the vicinity of the Certosa di Vedana.
medium-distance trail follows the track and the ancient connecting
lanes between the Val Belluna and the Agordo region along the course of
the Cordevole stream, from the Certosa di Vedana to Val Imperina. It coincides with stage no. 7 of the ‘Cammino delle Dolomiti’ (the Dolomites’ Walk). In its southern section, this trail intersects some of the other itineraries suggested here. Website: www.dolomitipark.it
c) The “Via dei Papi” (‘The Popes' Way’)
This medium-distance trail in 15 stages
along and Cordevole connects Lorenzago (in the Piave valley) to Canale
d’Agordo (in the Cordevole valley). It is part of a wider itinerary that
covers the whole of Veneto and is connected to a network of European
spiritual trails. A stage crosses the territory of Sospirolo – also in connection with the “Sentiero delle Antiche Rogge”
(the ‘Trail of the Ancient Irrigation Ditches’). Website:
www.viadeipapi.org. An information leaflet can be downloaded by the
d) The “Cammino delle Dolomiti” (‘The Dolomites’ Walk’)
Indicated with vertical signs and logo; marked with horizontal red-yellow signs. Altitude difference: about 630 m; duration: approx. 8-9 hrs; difficulty: medium. Parking: in Sospirolo.
A medium-distance trail in 30 stages through the whole province of Belluno. Stage no. 7 (Sospirolo-Val Imperina) skirts the territory of the PNDB and the ‘Masiere di Vedana’, just before entering the Canale d’Agordo. Website: www.camminodelledolomiti.it