The route across Passo della Tambura has an interesting story. Between 1738 and 1751 the Prince of Modena demanded a road to be built from his home to his property near the Tyrhenean Sea. Due to political complications the road had to built on the prince's property, which forced his engineer, the abbot Domenico Vandelli, to build it across the saddle of Passo della Tambura. Unfortunately the slopes on both sides are very steep so that it took all his engineering science to construct the endless switchbacks which lead across the pass. However, the prince's coach proved to large for the switchbacks which drove Vandelli into suicide.
Today, the road has fallen into disrepair, though it definitely remains an excellent hiking route. The lower parts have been used for marble quarrying in the 19th century, before the advent of dynamite quarrying increased the size and output of the quarries. The upper part of the route, as well as the north-south running ridge between Monte Tambura and Monte Sella were fortified during the last months of WW II when Germans and Italian partisans fought for the mountain range. There are numerous artillery positions on the ridge and Passo della Tambura used to be of strategic importance at the time, being the easiest pass in the north of the mountain range.
Getting ThereThe route starts at the marble quarry above Vagli di Sopra. Take care with the huge marble trucks, which use the narrow road. See the main page for th itinerary.
- Start altitude: 890m
- Summit altitude: 1894m
- Prevailing exposure: East, later east and west
- Type: Hike, Steep and moderately exposed in the upper section
- Protection: None
The tour starts at the entry of the big marble quarry of Vagli di Sopra. Follow the road into the quarry until you reach a house, located underneath a big rock. A few steps behind the house a signboard explains the history of Via Vandelli. A sign leads away from the road towards the south-west. Follow the path through a dell. On the far side the track leads into dense bushes and heads up an extremely steep and sometimes very brittle slope. There are no marks here and the path is almost invisible in several sections. It finally tops out above the slope and a few steps take you to Via Vandelli.
The route can be easily distinguished - in most sections there are small walls to either side, which, however, have broken away in the steepest parts. Turn right onto the road which turns back northward. You reach a first small marble quarry and after a few hundred metres a second, larger one. The road passes this second quarry, then turns south again and heads through the slopes directly above the quarry.
It now runs southward for a while until a shar turn takes you across a slope traverse back to the north. The eastern cirque of Monte Tambura is thus traversed. Finally you reach the northern end from where the road starts in endless switchbacks steeply up the mountain. A shoulder is reached, from where the road turns south again heading for the summit of Monte Focoletta, a small mountain overlooking Passo della Tambura.
Right before the mountain, Via Vandelli turns right and heads through Monte Focoletta's north face (danger: rockfall!) towards Passo della Tambura. Head through the gate-like pass for the view of Monte Tambura but return for the remainder of the route.
The south ridge route starts to the east of the pass, where WW II fortifications lead the way. The path first runs through the east face but soon tops out onto the ridge, which it follows to the top. Two side summits need to be climbed and here the ridge is moderately exposed. The final climb is steep, though in its topmost part the ridge becomes quite wide.