The following itinerary consists in the combination of two easy Via ferrata that deepens in the rockiest part of Gran Sasso National Park (Central Italy). The Via ferrata Brizio and Via ferrata Danesi will allow you to explore one of the most inaccessible parts of the National Park in full safety and with no particular difficulty. The only material needed is a helmet, a climbing harness, a via ferrata kit, some warm clothing (even in summer), water and food according to your needs. If like us you will opt for an early start, you should know that the first part of the itinerary will be mainly in the shadow.
The Via ferrata Brizio consists in a long and exposed traverse connecting ‘Sella del Brecciaio’ to ‘Sella dei Due Corni’ (during our itinerary we did not reached the ‘Sella dei Due Corni’, but headed directly to the starting point of the Via derrata Danesi) and its vertical development is of 80m. On the other hand, the Via ferrata Danesi climbs vertically the ‘Corno Piccolo’, with a vertical distance of 180m. It starts a few hundreds metres under the ‘Sella dei due Corni’ and few hundreds metres above the via normale at ‘Corno Piccolo’. Both the Via ferrata were renewed recently and are in perfect condition!
In order to reach Piazzale di Campo Imperatore you can choose one of the following options:
Take the cable-car from Fonte Cerreto (10euros round-trip). There are many sleeping options in the village
Park in Piazzale di Campo Imperatore itself (3euros for cars 8euros for campers, but in this case you can sleep there, as we did!)
Park (it’s free) at the bottom of the road bringing to the Piazzale di Campo Imperatore and take the small cable-car that in 5min brings you to the Piazzale (5euros round-trip) or simply walk for about 20min.
Vertical distance of the whole itinerary: 1050m
Total distance: about 15km
Material: helmet, climbing harness and Via ferrata kit. Gloves are a good idea if you are cold from your hands
Departure point: Piazzale di Campo Imperatore, 67100 L’Acquila – about 2000m
Summit: Corno Piccolo 2655m
Total duration of the excursion: according to Italian guides 7h-8h, it took us about 5h
We didn’t find water during the excursion, there’s a fountain with drinkable water in Campo Imperatore in-between the cars parking lot and the motorhomes one (might be hard to spot behind parked cars)
Description of the itinerary
From Piazzale di Campo Imperatore follow the touristic trail number 101 towards ‘Sella di Monte Aquila’. Once reached the Sella (40min), ignore the path proceeding to ‘Corno Grande’ and ‘Monte Aquila’ and take the one heading towards ‘Sella del Brecciaio’ number 103. In about 30min you should reach ‘Sella del Brecciaio’ here a panel indicating the Via ferrata Brizio points to the left, follow it, the Via ferrata will start in about 10min. Consider wearing your harness and kit here in the sun, the Via ferrata Brizio is in the shadow all morning and might be cold. This first Via ferrata presents no difficulties, it lasts about 1h, but it’s quite exposed.
Once out of the Brizio, keep your harness on, the Danesi starts in about 30min. You cannot miss it, on the path there is a panel indicating the starting point of the Via ferrata. Follow the rocks until the summit, the view from here is breathtaking. The Danesi lasts for about 1h, it’s slightly more difficult than the previous, however, it’s less exposed and do not require particular climbing skills.
After enjoying the view from the top take the path down following the ‘Via Normale’. In 45min you will be back to the departure point of the Danesi. From there you just need to follow back the Via ferrata Brizio. Normally, after lunch time everyone is doing the Via ferrata backwards, therefore you shouldn’t meet anybody coming your way. However, if that is the case be sure to stop in safe places where you can let people pass without putting them in danger. Once out of the Brizio, just follow the paths 103 and 101 until Piazzale di Campo Imperatore.
Why we loved it
This itinerary is perfect to discover some of the most inaccessible parts of Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park. It spaces from the beautiful prairies of Campo Imperatore plateau, to the alpine landscape of Corno Grande and Corno Piccolo where it deepens into the beautiful limestone. In addition, the view on the Vallone dei Ginepri reminded us that some trees are able to survive in this extreme environment, protected from the wind and growing close to the ground. In half a day we could explore some of the most impressive corners of this park. The only drawback: too many people along the initial part of the trail number 101.