Southern Italy: trekking in the Calabrian snow

December, 2017

Trekking in the Calabrian snow? Sure, why not, when you’re in southern Italy…

Monte Scuro, Sila, Calabria, italyTravel

With an invitation to join friends on a trek in the mountains on this winter’s day, how can anyone refuse?

Unless you have a car, it’s pretty tricky to catch public transport from Cosenza to where we are going today, in the Sila National Park.

The drive from Cosenza to Monte Scuro in the mountains takes about forty-five minutes.

You can expect about a 10-degree variance from Cosenza to the mountains, and today is a definite weather forecast for around 20 centimetres of snow.

Wearing two pairs of socks, beanie, gloves, full thermals, scarf, a couple of woollen layers, a minus eighteen-degree jacket, layered with another minus ten-degree jacket, I am prepared. Not to mention, armed with chocolate, almonds, Jaffa biscuits, Panini, and water for the trek – all’s well with the world.

Overkill? Never!

Our destination: The Sila National Park

I’ve written scatterings in previous posts about this stunning part of Calabria but today, is going to be different. This will be an immersion in the mountains during the winter, in the heart of the Sila National Park – whilst it’s snowing, heavily.

Monte Scuro, Sila, Calabria, Italy

The start

Diverse pristine woods and mountains make up the five-hundred-thousand hectares of the Sila National Park, which spans over the Cosenza, Crotone, and Catanzaro provinces in Calabria; and is one of Italy’s oldest national parks.

Really hope to also catch a glimpse of Il Lupo (wolf) today, which is the ever-illusive presence that makes this a mysterious animal and legend amongst these mountains.

With so many activities available to nature lovers in summer and winter, The Sila is a popular spot for locals, nationals, and the occasional ‘lost’ foreign tourist.

Monte Scuro, Sila, Calabria, Italy

Available treks

A chilly stroll in the snow

Leaving the cars parked on the side of the road, we headed for the panoramic snow-ladened Strada delle Vette (road of the peaks), which is the start of the trek. This road stretches about thirteen kilometres and descends right down into Lorica eventually, using the ski lift, which we’re not visiting today.

Monte Scuro, Sila, Calabria, Italy

Setting the pace

Although there is quite a lot of fresh snow about with around thirty centimetres on the road we’re walking on, the snow is much deeper off-road and to the sides. It’s still snowing now and doesn’t look like it’s stopping anytime soon.

Monte Scuro, Sila, Calabria, Italy

The long and winding road…

Icy air bites our faces as we walk amongst postcard surrounds of pure fresh whiteness, fit for a Christmas card.

Monte Scuro, Sila, Calabria, Italy

Snow walking, Italian style

This is a stunning region and reminds me a lot of the vistas you experience when trekking in the Tatras Mountains in Poland in Zakopane – another beautiful European region.

The deep silence whilst walking at this height of over 1,600 metres, surrounded by gorgeous tall Pine and Beech woodland is not only relaxing and calming, but also helps to still your mind. Nature is wonderful for clearing your head.

Monte Scuro, Sila, Calabria, Italy

Another trekking group

Walking along this road in the snow mostly with ease, although sometimes slipping, but overall, this is not a difficult trek, even at this height and on undulating slopes.

Monte Scuro, Sila, Calabria, Italy

Wooded stillness

With worsening weather, the thunder grows louder and the occasional lighting is seen in the distance, whilst pushing ahead through this pristine park. A collective decision is made to walk for another half-hour before stopping for a Panini – of course, then heading back.

Monte Scuro, Sila, Calabria, Italy

Forfeited this picnic stop

I never knew that thunder and lightning occurs simultaneously whilst it’s snowing heavily…I have a lot to learn about snow conditions, clearly.

Monte Scuro, Sila, Calabria, Italy

A stroll in the park (Photo credit: Silvio Ricioppo)

If continuing on this elevated trek, you will arrive at Monte Curcio, which is around 1,788 metres and where ski lifts are, then on to Monte Botte Donato at around 1,939 metres. Both are located in the Sila Grande with Monte Botte Donato as the highest peak in the Sila’s plateau.

Monte Scuro, Sila, Calabria, Italy

Dusting off the snow (Photo credit: Silvio Ricioppo)

Although today isn’t the day to reach the scenic lookout of the three peaks (Monte Scuro, Monte Curcio, and Monte Botte Donato), it’s still an excellent trek, with great friends, laughs, and about nine kilometres covered in the round-trip, by the time we return to the restaurant. So, good exercise, regardless of whether we push ahead in blizzard conditions! (Exaggerating, but is is snowing heavily.)

Monte Scuro, Sila, Calabria, Italy

Snow selfie (Photo credit: Silvio Ricioppo)

Back to warmth

After our little jaunt in the snow and feeling quite energetic but cold, it’s time to head for the warmth. Apart from your car, the only place close by is a lovely inviting restaurant, come haven.

Ristorante Rifugio Montescuro

All that awaits you when arriving in Monte Scuro is the Ristorante Rifugio Montescuro and a little distance from this restaurant, is a hotel.

Knocking the snow from our boots and dusting more snow from our clothes, opening the door pushes a warm draft across your face and body, whilst you enter the restaurant.

An open stoned fire place blazes a glowing and inviting warmth in the large room, which is surrounded by many patrons escaping the cold. At the back of the restaurant, a massive intricate mural of a wolf is painstakingly painted on the wall – beautiful.

Monte Scuro, Sila, Calabria, Italy

Il Lupo

Finding our place at the lovely rustic wooden tables and benches, thick chocolate Fondente, hot drinks, Panini, and a little alcohol to warm the cockles of your heart, is the flavour today.

Great service in this very cosy restaurant.

Returning to Cosenza

After scraping the ice and snow off the cars, we are off again and return to Cosenza for more warming drinks. It’s still quite icy out but descending down to Cosenza, the temperature quickly creeps back up from -2 degrees to 5 degrees, so, much more civilised.

Can’t wait for another adventure trek in the Sila, as there is so much to see in this gorgeous national park, and what better way to enjoy a trek than with friends?

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more images. More posts on Italy at Image Earth Travel.

Monte Scuro, Sila, Calabria, Italy

Into the wild (Photo credit: Silvio Ricioppo)

Monte Scuro, Sila, Calabria, Italy

Snow diet (Photo credit: Eugenio Pasqua)

Monte Scuro, Sila, Calabria, Italy

Amongst nature


74 thoughts on “Southern Italy: trekking in the Calabrian snow

  1. Boulder is not far from us. Yes, it is lovely here in winter, but fall, spring and summer are pretty good too! Lots of great outdoor activities for all seasons. You’ll have to come back in winter if you like skiing.


    • Thanks for the heads up! I’ve only tried skiing once in my life and after about an hour and a half of trying to teach myself how to ski but landing on my butt in the snow, I gave up and went for a Hot Toddy in front of the fireplace instead. 😉


  2. Very cool post! I’ve never been to Italy, but this looks like a hike you’d find in my home of Colorado. I am like you…bundle up! Coincidentally, I just read a post of a guy who hikes in the winter barefoot and shirtless! Crazy!! I look forward to following you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for commenting!
      I was sent from Australia to Boulder, Colorado for work back in 2011, for 2 weeks, but it was the wrong time of year for snow. I bet it’s stunning there in the winter.

      Look forward to reading your posts also. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This certainly seems like a great place to visit, and I’ve only heard great things from those who have spent some time there. From the stories they’ve shared, it sounds like it a very warm culture and the people are friendly and welcoming. Thanks for sharing with us and happy traveling!

    Share your adventure with us and earn money. Check out our site to see how you can become a featured writer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your feedback, however, these are my stories I am sharing not other feature writers.
      If you would like to share my link on your site, then I’m happy for you to do so. 🙂


    • I hope so…with the volcano at Bali and the recent earthquake in and around Jakarta, I am a bit worried 😉 However, the plan is to explore my roots there, so still looking forward to go and see for myself where my grandparents lived 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • Wow, which part of Indonesia did your grandparents live?
      I wouldn’t worry about recent occurrences as these can happen anytime, anywhere…we’d never leave our house if we thought about these things for too long. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, that’s what I figured too, Nilla. So definitely will go 😉 My biological father was born in Jakarta, so that’s were my grandparents lived. I also intend to find out were the Japanese held Indonesian captured and visit that part, since it played a big roll in my grandfathers life.
      The father (I have three 🙂 I go with, was born in The Netherlands, but has still family in Jakarta. But he wants also to take me to the hot springs at Bali and other places. I have to temper his enthusiasm however, since I can’t get away too long…

      Liked by 3 people

    • Wow, what an amazing story and one which I’d be interested to read if you write about it…let me know.
      Although I picked up a little Bahasa Indonesian, I’ve forgotten most of it, travelling back then, and over to Kalimantan, not a lot of locals in village spoke English. I remember staying in Surabaya for a few days, which was graced with many beautiful Dutch buildings back then, but I suspect much has changed.
      You’ll have an amazing time and look forward to reading your about your experience there. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I thought it strange also but coming from the Southern Hemisphere and only visiting our snow fields once, I clearly don’t have in-depth knowledge of weather in the snow. Those with me from the Northern Hemisphere didn’t think this was strange, so there you go. 🙂


  4. Great photos of your lovely trek. I’ve usually stayed along the coast in the winter, but you’ve made the winter hiking very attractive. (Come to think of it, I’ve been to Zakopane a couple of times, too, but always in warm, sunny weather.)

    Liked by 6 people

  5. Wow so white! I love the snowy pictures there is always something special in them. It`s been snowing quite a lot today in London but I don`t think the temperature is below 0 so everything will melt very soon.

    Liked by 6 people

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