The weather right now is just right for a good hike. Last weekend we decided to check out the Strada Delle 52 Gallerie. In the Dolomite mountains of Italy not too far from where we live there is a series of 52 tunnels that where cut into Mount Pasubio by soldiers during WWI in order to safely transport supplies. Work began on February 6, 1917 and was concluded in November 1917. It is considered to be an engineering masterpiece for it's day and is one of the few remaining structures from WWI.
The very first tunnel
Getting there was easier then I thought it would be. It took about an hour and a half from Vicenza. We put "Valli del Pasubio" into our gps. From there we continued onto SS46 towards Rovereto. The road goes up to the moutains so there are a lot of switchbacks. About 6 miles up SS46 on the right hand side you will see a sign for Strada delle 52 Gallerie, turn right. (This road is a little bit tricky but manageable. It is a one lane road going up the mountain, so there are some blind corners and it drops off on one side of you. Just go slow and you'll be fine. I have found that everyone goes up this road in the morning and down in the afternoon, so as long as you are there in the morning hopefully you won't have to pass any cars. But if you do happen upon a car coming down, there are pulloffs for passing here and there. It's not a bad road, I took a little four door car up it no problem, no need for an SUV.) You all the way up until you get to a spot where the road goes three different ways. Go left. Go all the way up until you get to a nice big parking lot just for the Strada delle 52 (it's about 5 miles all the way from where you turned off). Get out and take the left hand trail with the fancy entrance and get hiking!
Tunnel number 20 spirals up through this tower
The walk starts at a car park at Bocchetta Campiglia [1216m] and ends uphill at an Italian Alpine Club refuge called A Papa [1928m]. There is an information board at the start of the walk, with a small section in English. Each tunnel is numbered and at intervals there are more boards giving information on the next few tunnels. The tunnels are all different. Some are long and some are short. Some have little lookout windows and some are dark. Be sure to bring a flashlight for the dark ones. My husband is over six foot and had to duck through some of the tunnels a little bit but not too bad.
The tunnels make this a really unique and enjoyable hike. It takes about three hours to get to the top and two to get down. There are some parts of the trail that drop off on the side but the trail is wide so it's not scary at all. We strapped my two year old into a hiking backpack because he is not so good at staying on a trail yet.
Going back down can be tricky because the tunnels can get slippery. If you don't want to go back down through the tunnels there is a road you can follow back down, you'll see it when you get to the top. There is a trail that sort of follows the road but cuts off the switchbacks, so watch for the red and white stripes that mark it.
When we got past about tunnel forty we were up in the clouds. When we got to the top we were above the clouds. It was beautiful up there.