There are two routes to Pania di Corfino, one the regular hike, which runs from Rifugio Isera to Monte Vecchio and which, at Sella di Campaiana, can be interrupted for a "backstage ascent" of the Pania. The other route, which is described here, chooses the direct ascent through the impressive west face of the mountain, a short, but strenuous scramble. Both hikes can be combined (and usually are) to form a loop, the completion of which takes about 3 - 4 hours.
Pania di Corfino is a typical karst mountain with a wide summit meadow, which in the west suddenly drops towards the Garfagnana Valley. Here - not visible at first sight - a route makes use of a ledge-like ramp, which leads to a gully between the north and main summits of the mountain. In its topmost part the route is very steep but the main difficulty arises from the poor ground you have to tread on. The whole ascent is based on the scree slopes underneath the wet face, which unfortunately consist of rather big-sized pebbles. Scrambling to the summit rather feels like falling up the mountain.
Getting ThereSee the main page for the information of how to get to the trailhead at Rifugio Isera.
- Start altitude: 1209m
- Summit altitude: 1603m
- Prevailing exposure: West
- Type: Scramble
- Protection: none
From Rifugio Isera follow the forest road, which starts at the southern (right) end of the parking lot. Signs will guide you to the Orto Botanico. The road switches back and forth in several wide sweeps, which the hiking trail cuts short. Finally you reach a sharp switchback, where the two routes to Pania di Corfino separate. The Sella di Campaiana Route heads onward straight through a creek bed while the West Face Route follows the road and the signs to the botanical garden. It finally reaches the scree slopes above the forest and follows the timber line. The botanical garden (fee) is at the end of the road.
From the Orto Botanico an unmarked path heads towards the west face of Pania di Corfino. The path is plainly visible but in horrible condition. It traverses a field of big scree blocks, which are very difficult to negotiate. The going is steep - you traverse the scree field from south-west to north-east. Up front you can make out the ramp, which is the further ascent route. Head for its bottommost part to the very left (north) of the face. Before you reach it a few boulders have to be scrambled across but finally you reach the ramp.
The ramp resembles a scree covered ledge but is only a path worn out by the multitude of hikers who went there. It is straight as a ruler and heads for a small patch of bushes high in the face. The ramp starts shallow but gets steeper and steeper as you close in onto the bushes. Also, again the path is rocky and difficult to negotiate.
Up at the bushes you enter a gully which comes down from a slightly pronounced saddle between the north and central summits of Pania di Corfino. Take a short rest as it is a wonderful lookout spot. Also, you''ll need your breath for the remaining 100m of steep scramble. Follow the gully - the path switches back and forth between the walls to its side. It is very steep but here finally the ground is easy to traverse (in comparison). You'll top out on the summit plateau where you need to turn right to push for the summit across the summit meadow.
If you don't want to descend by the ascend route, head for the southern part of the summit meadow. A (sometimes) marked path awaits you there which leads through a small batch of trees and down two or three meadows until you reach Sella di Campaiana. Head into the saddle, where you will recognize the Monte Vecchio Route. Turn left and head down a small valley which gets more and more pronounced as you get lower. Finally you hike through an overgrown creek bed at the end of which you reach the forest road to the Orto Botanico. Either follow the road or stay inside the creek bed. The latter leads directly to Rifugio Isera, the former takes a winding detour to the same place.