The Ferrata Cuore alla Croce at Monte Palabione is a via ferrata that does not present difficulties for the expert hiker. However, it is exposed and follows a beautiful grassy ridge so it should not be underestimated. The ferrata has few vertical stretches, while there are abundant stretches leaning against and even short rocky leaps.
The starting point of the itinerary is Aprica in the province of Sondrio. Go up the Valtellina up to Sondrio, reach Tresenda and then turn right to Aprica / Brescia until you reach the village. Alternatively, going up from Lake Iseo to Edolo and then left.
Once in the village you will have to assess whether you want to approach by cable car or by path.
If you opt to go up with the lifts leading to the Palabione, you can park in the large square of the cable car in Via Adamello.
If you wish to undertake the approach on foot, from the provincial road turn right uphill along Via Tonale, then continue along the narrow Via Ospitale to a junction where you will notice a parking lot on the left. You should park your car in this parking lot. Directions for Google Maps available here.
If you decide to continue along the path, return to Via Ospitale from the parking lot and start climbing on the paved road for 500 meters until the paved road becomes a forest road with white-red signs. We are on path 327 which uphill will take us to Dosso Pasò then to the top station of the cable car under which we will walk several times.
From the top station of the cable car (1h 15' from the car park), continue uphill towards Lake Palabione, you will notice towards the east the ridge of the Monte Palabione where the ferrata extends. We are heading in that direction following the white-red signs towards the white slab that indicates the start of the via ferrata (20' from the top station of the cable car - 1h 40' total).
The via ferrata extends on an edge and therefore preserves in some sections a certain exposure which, combined with the grassy bottom and not always very stable, is the greatest difficulty of the route. The route is a mix of ridge stretches with some rocky leaps. Shortly after the start we find the key passage: an exposed vertical wall to climb up by climbing. In many places you climb diagonally taking advantage of some rock holds. The ferrata is short and after the difficult stretch we face some small leaps and then reach the final stretch of grassy ridge that leads us to the summit cross (40 'from the start - 2h 15' total).
From the opposite side to where the ferrata extends the descent path (partly aided) is undertaken. The path is steep but not difficult and leads us to engage on the path traveled to the outward journey (CAI 237). If from here we want to descend to the parking lot on foot we retrace the route going backwards (1h 15' from the summit - 3h 45' total). If, on the other hand, you want to return by cable car, once you reach the junction with the forward path, you have to travel uphill for 10 minutes to the cable car station.
An alternative is to go down to the other side of the Aprica valley. You could go up to the cable car station and go to the nearby Rifugio Valtellina (CAI 329). From the Valtellina hut continue on 329 up to Malga Magnotta and then downhill on 301/326 up to Aprica (calculate 1h 30 'more for a total of about 5 hours of itinerary).
The Ferrata to the Monte Palabione is an ideal itinerary to try out an exposed ferrata but not difficult for hikers who have mountain experience but who have not yet gained much experience in aided paths. The via ferrata is not particularly difficult but it is exposed and a couple of steps require more attention.
The cable is sometimes slightly loose and tends to flaunt.
The Valtellina is an area that offers many trips, but few actual via ferrata. If you wanted to stay in the province of Sondrio you could opt for the Ferrata to the Torrione Porro. You could ride both on the same day provided you use the lifts for the ascent to the Palabione.
Going down in the Brescia area there is an embarrassment of choice even with challenging and mountaineering routes. Not far from Aprica there are in the order of increasing difficulty la Via Ferrata of Pizzo Badile Camuno, the Ferrata Terzulli (mountaineering trip) and the Ferrata del Corno del Grevo (very difficult). To stay on easy routes, however, lengthening the road a lot could lead you to Lake Iseo to travel on Aided path Trentapassi.
Approach: 1:40 h
Ferrata: 0:40 h
Itinerary: 3:30 h
Via Ferrata gap: 252 m
Route difference: 666 m
Max altitude: 2361 m
Length: 7 Km