Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Walk from Albino to Bergamo via Monte Misma

Left: The route from Albino to Bergamo. Right: Close to the top of Monte Misma on sentiero 601.
The route from Albino to BergamoClose to the top of Monte Misma on sentiero 601

Panorama from Monte Misma
Panorama from Monte Misma

Hike Notes

Length: 25.6 km (15.9 miles)
Duration: 7 hours and change minus a 15-minute lunch break on Monte Misma
Elevation: 1.646 m (5,400 feet) total elevation gain, minimum and ending elevation in Bergamo 256 m (840 feet), max elevation 1.160 m (3,806 feet) @ Monte Misma, starting elevation at Albino 330 m (1,083 feet)
Location: Italy, Lombardia, Bergamo, Bassa e Media Val Seriana


I got it in my head that it would be fun to walk from Albino to Bergamo, and so we gave it a try today. I wouldn’t say it was one of our prettier walks/hikes due to disruptive trail work after many trees were uprooted in a recent storm, a thick haze with views resembling a very smoggy LA day, and the last bit of the walk on surface streets. On the positive side, this walk contained some classic easy hill walking through roccoli, which are so characteristic to this area.

A roccolo is a big trap for birds, usually smaller migratory birds. You might say it’s a bird snare, but that's a bit of an understatement to describe these often intricate structures. It’s better to describe them as architettura vegetale. Roccoli are built different ways, but commonly are in a circular shape of living material (trees and shrubs) and other materials (wire, poles, netting), built on a hill top. You can often tell that you are approaching a roccolo when you start seeing signs warning about hunters and guns. The signs can seem freaky, but to date nothing has ever happened to us even walking straight through roccoli.

There is an interesting article on roccoli published by LAC, a group promoting the abolishing of hunting. Despite advocating for abolishment, the article gives a good summary of the background on roccoli. The idea of creating a roccolo supposedly came to some priests escaping the plague of the XIV century. The priests headed up into the mountains, but once there, they had to eat something and the story goes that they invented the roccolo. The article does go on to describe many of the not-so-nice ways live birds are used to attract other birds into a roccolo. The article describes the etymology of roccolo as coming from Latin “rocolus”, a diminutive of castle, or that roccolo derives from “rotolus” for the circular form.

Part of the walk (sentiero 513) goes through Parco del Monte Bastia e del Roccolo, which is where we saw most of the roccoli. The provincial profile of the park states that there are dozens of roccoli in this zone. The Wikipedia page for the park states that the roccoli are present in large numbers on the ridge from Monte Bastia to Monte del Roccolo because the area is located on a natural terrace overlooking the Bergamo plain and the mouth of the Val Seriana, which is an area of concentrated bird migration.

Panorama of a roccolo in Parco del Monte Bastia e del Roccolo.
Panorama of a roccolo in Parco del Monte Bastia e del Roccolo.

Two other things to point out on the walk are:
  • Pierina Morosini chapel. Pierina Morosini (1931 – 1957) was killed on the trail where the chapel is located, her life cut short by a brutal act. She was later beatified in 1976 and officially blessed in 1987. We encountered this touching little chapel early in the hike.
  • Maria Ausiliatrice del Monte Misma. We got a bit lost around this, for a lack of better word, sanctuary, which occupies the top of a small wooded hill and includes paths and statues honoring Mary Help of Christians and Saint Joseph. (Information in Italian.) From what we could tell, a local man had several sightings of a dove and la Madonna. Then, the man built the sanctuary with guidance from Mary. It was a bit confusing for us to comprehend what we were seeing perhaps because we were sweating profusely from hiking and in need of some water. It’s an example of the interesting things you find in the hills around here.
Left: Pierina Morosini chapel. Center: Statues at Maria Ausiliatrice del Monte Misma. Right: Ex-votos at Maria Ausiliatrice del Monte Misma.
Pierina Morosini chapelStatues at Maria Ausiliatrice del Monte MismaEx-votos at Maria Ausiliatrice del Monte Mism

The steps to recreate this roll-your-own walk are:
  • TEB tram: Take the tram from Bergamo to Albino.
  • Sentiero 511 (Albino - S. Maria del Misma): In Albino, find 511 and start climbing.
  • Sentiero 601 (Bivio Corna Clima, Luzzana - Monte Misma): At intersection with 601, take it to the summit of Misma.
  • Sentiero 539 (Cornale - Monte Misma): Take 529 down from the summit until you hit 513. (We got lost once or twice here, signage was a little spotty.)
  • Sentiero 513 (Tribulina di Gavarno - Valle Rossa – Monticelli)
  • Sentiero 509 (Villa di Serio - Gavarno - Monte Bastia) You’ll have to walk through Gavarno to find 509.

Particularly useful as always is to print out the maps and gpx tracks from the CAI Bergamo, so you can have them handy.

At the end of the mountain walking we were left in Scanzorosciate, a few kilometers from Bergamo, and walked back on streets to Piazzetta del delfino. This part was boring, except for a stop for a much appreciated ghiacciolo (ice pop). Happy walking!

Left: Allium carinatum. Center left: Cirsium. Center right: Cyclamen purpurascens. Right: Capanno con sparo - Hunting blind with gunshots.
Allium carinatumCirsiumCyclamen purpurascensCapanno con sparo - Hunting blind with gunshots

Left: A sign in Parco del Monte Bastia e del Roccolo pointing out flowers common to this area, vincetossico - Vincetoxicum hirundinariaorchide priamidale - Anacamptis pyramidalisfiordalis di trionfetti - Cyanus triumfettii, and sferracavallo commune - Hippocrepis comosa. Center: Le vie del Misma trails. Right: Graphosoma lineatum - Italian-Striped Bug.
A sign in Parco del Monte Bastia e del Roccolo pointing out flowers common to this areaLe vie del Misma trailsGraphosoma lineatum - Italian-Striped Bug

Left: Azienda Agricola Celinate. Right: Coming down from Monte Misma.
Azienda Agricola CelinateComing down from Monte Misma

Left: View northwest from Monte Bastia toward Nembro. Right: View of Monte Misma from Celinate.
View northwest from Monte Bastia toward NembroView of Monte Misma from Celinate

Views of a roccolo in Monte del Roccolo. Note some artificial trees mixed with living trees.
Views of a roccolo in Monte del Roccolo. Note some artificial trees mixed with living trees.Views of a roccolo in Monte del Roccolo. Note some artificial trees mixed with living trees.

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