Overview"Via Italiana" is a rather difficult and very exposed, but interesting ferrata in a beautiful surrounding.
The route itself is in the northwall of Mangart (2.678 m) - a peak of the Julian Alps, located on the border between Slovenia and Italy.
The best season is summer and early fall (July to October).
Depending on the snow conditions, it is as well possible in spring and late fall.
I did this route e.g. mid of November in 2005 and had perfect and dry conditions (even less ice in some small parts of the route than in October).
There are two well known trailheads possible - Mangart plateau or "Lago di fusine superiore".
The whole route is well belayed.
Anyway, it is rather not suitable for children, because it might be too exposed. It is obviously one of the (if not THE) most exposed ferrata's in the Julian Alps.
There are some quite difficult parts – without the "ferrata" it would be a climbing route with a difficulty of IV to V (UIAA), one part even VI (UIAA). If you are used to exposed areas, you will definitely enjoy it!
Time required (ferrata only, without summiting Mangart):
The approach from Mangart plateau to the start of the ferrata needs app. 1 hour, from "Lago di fusine superiore" app. 3 hours.
For the ferrata you need (depending on the conditions, number and length of breaks and your skills) between one hour and one and a half hour.
The descent to Mangart plateau after exiting the ferrata needs only a few minutes.
Getting ThereYou can use the 12 km long Mangart mountain road to reach the Mangart plateau ("Mangart saddle"). You need to pay toll for using this road , which branches off 1.5 km east from "Passo del Predil" (between Italy and Slovenia, e.g. if you are coming from Tarvisio).
The other option is to use the trailhead from "Lago di fusine superiore".
Approach to the ferrata:
1) From Mangart plateau (2.050 m)
From the highest point of the Mangart mountain road (parking lot) you start in the direction of the normal route. After a few minutes you leave the route to the left and follow the track up to the Mangart notch. From there along the westwall of Mali Mangart ("Small" Mangart) a steep way leads down through scree to the Bivouac Nogara (keep slightly to the right, if the way is not clearly visible all the time).
2) From "Lago di Fusine superiore" (930 m)
From the parking lot at the upper lake you continue into the valley to a big meadow. From there a steep way through the woods leads to the Bivouac Nogara (1.850 m).
Route DescriptionFrom the Bivouac Nogara the path leads up (app. 100 m) to two clearly visible caves in the north-wall. There you will find a red arrow sign, showing the start of the real – partly vertical - ferrata.
The first rope leads after app. 60 m to the first cave – this cave you will cross through a small natural tunnel.
If you enlarge the picture above, you can see the first part of "Via Italiana" including a detail picture of the natural tunnel leading through the first cave.
Then a 5 or 6 m vertical wall has to be conquered using the fixed ropes. A couloir leads to the second cave. After a 4 m step you reach a terrace and a lush rock-pulpit. Through a couloir you cross a few meters down to another couloir, which leads to a third cave.
You continue to the left in another couloir - after about 30 m you end up in a place surrounded by walls below a notch. From here to the left to a vertical edge.
Now very exposed up, up and up… until you reach some overhanging parts. You cross slightly ascending app. 150 m to the left, to reach another vertical part of the wall – the crux of Via Italiana, which you will solve using some iron clamps.
Via some crags you reach a small notch and suddenly you will be surprised, because you stand on the flat part of the ridge. You made it! Soon you will reach the normal route. From here you can either continue to the summit (you should use the highly recommended "Slovenian route" - compare the route description of Vid Pogachnik) or you can descend to your trailhead.
You follow the normal route down to the Mangart notch. There you can either go to the right, down to Bivouac Nogara and continuing to the lakes "Laghi di fusine" or you can follow the normal route to the Mangart plateau and the parking lot there.
- Obviously a pair of good shoes (you should feel comfortable with them during hiking and climbing)
- Helmet (because of rockfall danger, due to the steep and partly vertical sections)
- Harness and "Via ferrata set" with carabiners for belaying (there have been already deadly accidents on this route – so take care)
- Gloves (especially on colder days in the early morning)
- In early summer an Ice-axe is recommended for some couloirs, additionally one crossing, which is quite easy in summer can be tricky, if you discover hard snow
Mountain huts- Bivouac Nogara (1.850 m), which is only a shelter
- Mangart hut "Koca na mangartskem sedlu" (1.906 m), Tel. SLO-050 630 863
The hut is located below the Mangart plateau (you will see it, when driving up Mangart road...)
Literature / external links- "Klettersteige / Vie ferrate" from Ingo Neumann (includes 30 routes in Slovenia, Austria and Italy)
The descriptions in the book are given in 3 languages (german, italian, english). Very good route maps. First edition from 2004.
- "Klettersteige Julische Alpen" from Hanns Heindl (includes 73 routes in Slovenia, Austria and Italy)
As far as I know, this book is only available in german.
Third edition from 2005.
- A good map of the region (1:35.000) including GPS-points you can get from "Freytag & Berndt". It’s called "Nationalpark Triglav – Kranjska gora – Planica – Bled" (WK 5141).