The Ferrata delle Balze del Malpasso is an easy route that extends on a wall that runs along the Dolo river in the Reggio Emilia hills. The wall is located in an interesting landscape area between limestone hills, Tibetan bridges and waterfalls. The via ferrata is at low altitude and therefore not recommended in the summer period.
To undertake the trip it is necessary to reach the hamlet of Castagnola in the municipality of Toano in the province of Reggio Emilia. The town is not far from the hamlet of Quara. It is advisable to park in the small parking lot next to the chapel or beside the road that leads to the hamlet.
Directions for Google Maps available here.
The goal is to get to Castel Pizzigolo. From the chapel, go down the dirt track following the CAI 613 path. At the crossroads follow the 613 Bis for Castel Pizzigolo, reaching the Quara springs in a few minutes. After a while you reach a picnic area and turning right you go down until you see the first Tibetan bridge of the ferrata. Watch out for the slippery terrain that precedes the bridge (30 'from the car).
The bridge is about 50 meters long with wooden planks. At the end of the bridge, go up an oblique wall aided with steps and reach a wall where you descend about 8 meters. After the descent there is a junction with two alternatives.
On the right, go up towards the zip line. Both zip lines require the use of a high performance pulley (eg: PETZL Tandem Speed) compared to common pulleys (eg: PETZL Tandem Cable) with which it is practically safe to get stuck in the middle of the line. With the pulley you pass the canyon first in one direction and then you return a few meters below the starting platform.
To the left of the junction, the main route continues and descends steeply towards the second Tibetan bridge. Crossing the Tibetan bridge - shorter than the previous one - continue to the right on a comfortable ledge until you reach a short, slightly overhanging vertical stretch where the handles and equipment effectively eliminate the difficulties. After this stretch, continue to the left on another ledge and reach a crossroads: the easy route continues on the ledge, the expert route starts again to the right, continuing on pegs.
The easy route continues on the ledge to then climb an easy inclined wall optimally aided with brackets and reach the end in just over 5 minutes from the junction.
The path for experts starts following a series of pegs for the feet and faces a vertical wall of 15 meters in which there is the key passage of the route: despite the abundance of pegs and brackets the wall is particularly smooth and in a passage requires arm strength and athletic hold. Passed this passage in a few meters you reach the end of the via ferrata (30 'from the start).
From the end of the via ferrata, you will soon reach the picnic area encountered on the outward journey and then backwards along the path taken on the outward journey until you reach the car (30 'from the end of the via ferrata).
The rock is particularly slippery - especially in ledges - so it is particularly important to use a helmet to avoid problems in case of falling rocks. After the first Tibetan bridge it is possible to descend a path until reaching the Dolo river. It is not uncommon in summer to meet hikers who bathe in its fresh waters.
There are no via ferratas that can be connected in the same itinerary without returning to the car. However there are via ferratas reachable by car on the same day:
Approach: 0:30 h
Ferrata: 0:30 h
Itinerary: 1:30 h
Ferrata height difference: 100 m
Route difference: 200 m
Max altitude: 955 m
Length: 2.7 Km
Mountain Group: Appenino Tosco-Emiliano