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, italyGetting there

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 headed today, in the beautiful 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 in temperature from Cosenza to the mountains. Today’s forecast is for definite snow of around 20 centimetres.

Wearing two pairs of socks, beanie, gloves, full thermals, scarf, a couple of woollen layers, a minus eighteen-degree down jacket, layered with another minus ten-degree down jacket, I’m 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 a total 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. The Sila 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 head 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 already with about 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 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.

Monte Scuro, Sila, Calabria, Italy
Amongst nature

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.

Monte Scuro, Sila, Calabria, Italy
Into the wild (Photo credit: Silvio Ricioppo)

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, 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.

Monte Scuro, Sila, Calabria, Italy
Snow diet (Photo credit: Eugenio Pasqua)

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 the 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
Snow dusting (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 9 kilometres covered during the round-trip and by the time we return to the restaurant.

Great exercise trudging in the snow regardless of whether we push ahead in blizzard conditions – exaggerating, but it is snowing heavily intermittently. Sometimes, it stops long enough for a selfie…

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 off more snow from our clothes, opening the door pushes a warm draft across your face and body, whilst entering 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 – just beautiful.

Monte Scuro, Sila, Calabria, Italy
Il Lupo

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

Great service in this very cosy restaurant.

Leaving the mountains

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 -2C to 5 degrees C, 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. 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
Mountain chat

77 responses to “Southern Italy: Trekking in the Calabrian Snow”

  1. Abirbhav Avatar

    For a moment, I thought that you were talking about the Italian Alps..
    The presence of snow in the Southern Part of Italy is quite (pleasantly.. 🙂 ) flabbergasting.. Glad that you could enjoy and trek amidst thick snow..!!
    Calabria is throwing up surprises one after the other.. 🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      It’s a very unknown region of Italy to foreigners.
      The Sila National Park is gorgeous and yes, Calabria gets a snow season. 😉

      1. Abirbhav Avatar

        Lovely..!! What else can a traveler ask for..

  2. M.K Avatar

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog! I hope you will stop by mine as well!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you and I will definitely stop by and check your blog out.

  3. Vish Shaddarsanam Avatar

    Hi! This is a very insightful post and I really liked it. Please follow my blog at I’m an aspiring writer and any feedback/follows would be wonderful! Thank you and happy posting!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi, thank you and I’ve checked out your site also. 😉

  4. Sunaina Das Avatar

    Love the post so much , love reading how you have described it. Keep it up 💕
    Also Please check out my latest post on How to travel Like a Pro –

    Hope you will like it ❤️

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks you and I’ve checked out your post – chic luggage you travel with!

  5. Empty Nest Adventures Avatar

    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.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      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. 😉

  6. Empty Nest Adventures Avatar

    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. 🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      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. 🙂

  7. mixedbaggweb Avatar

    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.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      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. 🙂

  8. lincolnlifesite Avatar


    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you! We had a wonderful time in the snow. 🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Many thanks for the re-blog. 🙂

  9. inesephoto Avatar

    Ah snow, I feel nostalgic. Beautiful photographs.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Inese – it’s definitely a beautiful region.
      Hope you’ve had a wonderful Christmas. 🙂

      1. inesephoto Avatar

        Thank you! Snowless, but nice anyway 🙂

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Have eaten too much and seriously need to diet now! Maybe another trek in the snow. 😉

      3. inesephoto Avatar

        Yeah, to gain appetite 😉

  10. nildamacedopaulino Avatar
  11. Sartenada Avatar

    As a Finn, I must confess, that it looks like real winter. I will start next year my winter photos and until them summer photos. Have a wonderful day!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks! I can’t wait to see your winter photos. I loved Finland when I backpacked there back in 1985 – stunning country!

      1. Sartenada Avatar

        Wow. 1985! Our country has changed, but landscapes not.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Yeah, showing my age. 😉
        I solo-backpacked around the world for almost 12 months. I’m glad to hear the landscape hasn’t changed as in some countries I’ve returned to, the landscape is now scarred – very sad.

      3. Sartenada Avatar

        Age is just number.

        Maybe You have checked my About me

        and thus understand that I am senior citizen, but active one. LOL.

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Ha, ha I already checked out your About page ages ago and remember about you 😉

      5. Sartenada Avatar

        Thank You. When You were in Finland, where did You visit? Maybe I have photos from those, because I have made many road trips around Finland. Merry Christmas.

      6. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        I took a ferry from Copenhagen to Turku. Then a train north to Oulu and across into Sweden, and down to Stockholm. I couldn’t stay long as it was too expensive on Australian dollars. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and 2018! 🙂

      7. Sartenada Avatar

        Wow. Oulu was the key word! We love Oulu! It is one of my favorite town in Finland. If You do not mind, I show the beach of Nallikari (Oulu) in summer and winter.

        Arctic beach in Summer.

        Arctic beach in Winter.

        The difference is huge! In the beginning of next year I will post my second post presenting biking in winter in Oulu. Later reindeers.


      8. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Thanks Matti. It’s been such a long time since I was there that I need to read my travel journal again, which is in storage in Australia.
        I love the photos of the different seasons in your 2 posts and look forward to seeing the biking post photos.

  12. Patty Avatar

    Fantastic photo’s, but I will visit during warming days 😉

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you for the feedback! Ha, ha, very true and when you do, stop by in Cosenza for a visit. 😉 x

      1. Patty Avatar

        I certainly will…maybe next year, but first I am planning a trip to Indonesia with my father Spring 2018 🙂

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Look forward to meeting you next year.
        Wow, I haven’t been to Indonesia since travelling there for about 4 months back in 1998 – you’ll have a blast! 🙂

      3. Patty Avatar

        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 🙂

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        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. 😉

      5. Patty Avatar

        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…

      6. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        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. 🙂

  13. LuLu B - Calabrisella Mia Avatar

    I need to visit Sila in the winter time. I like the idea that I can go for the day to enjoy the snow and then run back to Cosenza leaving the snow behind hahaha.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Yes, it’s so beautiful in the winter but maybe hailing from Canada, it’s a normal scenery for you? Nonetheless, it is a stunning region and you should try and go at least for the day. 🙂

      1. LuLu B - Calabrisella Mia Avatar

        Yes, we often get quite a bit of snow in Canada. I miss the snow only when I don’t have to deal with it to go to work haha.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Yes, much more than southern Italy. You’ll definitely have to head up into the Sila for your snow fix…

  14. gillmorris Avatar

    Wow. It looks amazing and for some reason I think it never snows in those regions. How wonderful to have all that close to where you live. 🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Everyone thinks of southern Italy as hot all year round as it’s in the Med.
      We’re pretty much at sea leave in Cosenza and it snowed here in January (winter) this year, so yep, it gets pretty cold. 🙂

  15. equinoxio21 Avatar

    Quite an adventure. The key is good shoes and very warm ski/mountain clothes. 🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Indeed it is, but that’s usually not enough for me so I layer up loads then remove layers during the trek.

      1. equinoxio21 Avatar
  16. The Thrifty Campers Avatar

    I never new that it can thunderstorm when snowing, how interesting. Looks like a wonderful place to explore

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      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. 🙂

  17. karenincalabria Avatar

    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.)

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you but not all photos are mine. It’s a beautiful part of Calabria, which you must see.

      My photos of Zakopane are much better as I tool these with The Beast (Nikon full frame camera) that weighs 3kgs.

  18. Kenneth Avatar

    It’s snowing here in the Nethelands as well✌❄

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Must look beautiful over your way Kenneth! 🙂

  19. Suzanne [globalhousesitterX2] Avatar

    Cool 🙂 Okay seriously, it does look like lots of fun. Love the Italian look Nilla 🙂 Your photos confirm that it is indeed fun to get out even when it is cold and snowing!!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hey Suzanne, for some strange reason your comment went into my WP spam folder – how rude.

      Yes, Italians certainly know how to do things in style and with style, as I’ve mentioned before. We had a great day and a lot of fun and laughs.
      BTW I’m trying out this advertising thingy on my site so let me know what you think. I have no say as to where an ad is placed, which is annoying but there you go… 😉

      1. Suzanne [globalhousesitterX2] Avatar

        Yes, how rude of you to put me in the spam folder 🙂 Okay will check will go and check it out and let you know.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        I’m not sure why WP did that, it’s very strange.

      3. Suzanne [globalhousesitterX2] Avatar

        You can’t tell them not to do it that way?

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Nope, I can’t tell them anything.

        If you run a (self-hosted) site, I believe you can places the ads where you want them but not on this site, even though I pay for Premium.

      5. Suzanne [globalhousesitterX2] Avatar

        I have to upgrade as I have very little storage left! So are you getting paid for having the adverts on your blog?. As the unpaid one, the ads are there automatically. Usually at the end of the post

      6. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Nothing yet and it will probably be some time and a pittance, but maybe over time it may pay for my WP yearly fee. 🙂
        Check out the WordAds on your WP Dashboard site. Message me if you’d like the links or more information. Not sure if it’s slowed down my Home page load and my actual post page speed though.

      7. Suzanne [globalhousesitterX2] Avatar

        Don’t ask me about uploading speed etc, slow internet or no internet. The joys of changing abodes on a regular basis, not that we are complaining as we are staying in a holiday home owned by a lovely family we housesit for.

      8. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Ha, ha we only notice when it’s slow, not when it’s quick.

      9. Suzanne [globalhousesitterX2] Avatar

        On your blog, it is amongst your posts which is a rather strange place for it to be. No doubt hoping that people will open their link instead of your post? The advert on your individual post is above your heading which I missed first time around. At least you don’t have pop ups!! Those things are so annoying! Will be interested to see how you go with the advertising.

      10. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Yes, I’ve seen where WP pushes the ads to and although it’s annoying, I don’t have a say. I’ll test it for a few months and see how it goes and let you know if it helps. 🙂

  20. the eternal traveller Avatar

    I don’t usually think of Italy and snow together. Your photos are gorgeous and I can quite understand why you were wearing so many layers.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      I never either, especially this far south…until I experienced my first winter here 2016/2017 and it snowed in Cosenza, the city I’m living in at the moment.

  21. carolineontheglobe Avatar

    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.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      I love it also as it’s so pristine and stunning – quite surreal!
      Wow, it’s going to be a cold winter in Europe then…I can see snow on the hills from my balcony, which is a tad early from last year.

  22. writerankita Avatar

    Good info!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you and glad you enjoyed this post.

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