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Translated Jeff Matthews

We often convince ourselves that in order to live grand tales of adventure we have to go off to some exotic place of distant peaks. This mistaken belief often leads us to overlook our own backyard, imagining similar economic or logistical complications. It is almost never like that! For some time now, I have been convinced that the natural beauty here around us has nothing to envy in comparison with more heralded and far-off sites and that you can find adventure without undertaking excruciating migrations.

The other day, thanks to a welcome truce with the weather, which offered us a beautiful sunny day, I set off with a few friends to discover another jewel hidden in the mountains of the Matese massif: the Torano canyon. The area is between the towns of Piedimonte Matese and San Gregorio Matese, where the Torano river in its infinite and slow act of creation has been scultpting the limestone of these mountains, creating a deep wound in the flank of the massif.

The trail begins at the small square of the Piedimonte Matese aqueduct (via Sorgente) and climbs up the valley in a northerly direction. The stretch of the hike, almost never overly steep, winds through a green of wild lush vegetation that, the higher you go, quickly turns to bare canyon rock. In places the walls are so steep and high that direct sunlight never shines on the bottom. That is the reason I was not able to do what I usually try to do on outings—take GPS readings. Even my faithful and sensitive Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx, which I normally carry with me into the mountains, couldn't pick up the satellite signals. The terrain in places is so dark that you almost have the feeling you're underground, wandering in a cave.

Although the water of the Torano stream is sparse, there were still places we had to wade across through cold water. It's a good idea to take some spare socks if you don't want to have wet feet for a few hours. It's a simple enough trail; you just have to be wary of the slippery rocks along the way. At the halfway point, you'll have to make your way over a large rock-slide, for which you'll need some rope and steel cables to use as hand rails. After a few hours the valley opens up again; the canyon is finished and we are at the spring that marks the beginning of a new path, one that we were over some time ago. It leads to Valle Orsara and Valle Inferno.

After a short break to refresh ourselves with sandwiches we had picked up in town, we started to climb again. This time we put a little more effort into it in order to reach and get over the crest, which is the eastern side of our canyon, and start the descent back to Piedimonte Matese and our car, closing the ring, so to speak. In the meantime, the sky had darkened a bit and a few drops of rain were starting to fall. Somewhere up there, the gods of rain were about to make their presence known.

The entire hike lasted about 5 hours. It was about 10 km in distance with an up and down elevation differential of 535 meters. It gave us, as we knew it would, glimpses of rare beauty and a dose of healthy adventure.

Participants: Alessandra, Nando, Leonardo and yours truly.

Here below are some photos of the hike and, where possible, a GPS trace. Feel free to download what you may be able to use for your own outings.

Have a good hike.

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