The difficult Ferrata Ernesto Franco extends for long crossings near the Passo di Monte Spino in the province of Brescia near the eastern shore of Lake Garda. The Ferrata is short but this should not mislead the difficulty of the itinerary. To travel if in good shape and with experience of via ferrata.
The starting point of the itinerary is San Michele near Gardone Riviera on the Brescia side of the Lake Garda. Once in San Michele we go towards Val di Sura. We reach the Colomber Restaurant near a saddle in the road. Here we have two options:
Directions for Google Maps available here.
From the car park we continue on the road until we reach Voghere, we pass it and follow the CAI 1 path. We climb the wide path fording the Barbarano stream twice and we will reach a crossroads: on the left the CAI25 / 1 Bis that we ignore as we continue straight ahead staying on the CAI 1. We continue along the CAI 1 path to Cascina Gemelle (950 m - 1h from the parking lot) where at the junction we will keep the right going up the path until the start of the Ferrata Ernesto Franco on the right of the path marked with sign and directions (1h 30 'from the parking lot).
The Ferrata begins with a traverse to the left in overhang (providential a metal bracket) which soon changes direction and proceeds diagonally to the right. The first section of the traverse offers good grips for the feet, we go beyond a plant and begin the most difficult and least appealing section. Carry on trying with your feet in adherence to continue to the right until you reach a crack in the rock where you can rest before leaving again in the direction of an edge. Climb up the decidedly challenging corner with scarce natural grips among which a dried up plant stands out. It will probably be necessary to proceed in adherence on the rock in this passage. At this point the via ferrata continues with a lightly downward traverse to the right. The rock is particularly smooth but there are some fractures here and there where to place your feet. This stretch is challenging and it is convenient to move quickly and easily to get out as fast as possible. After the downhill section we continue for a few meters diagonally across to then climb a new exposed and smooth edge where it will be difficult not to pull on the cable. We continue diagonally to the left now on a more trapped crossbar until we get back some rocks. We are now on a vantage point from which the last section begins. This trait becomes pleasant, climbing and relaxing after the efforts of the previous 15 minutes. Then we reach the final ridge where the short ferrata ends (20 'from the start - about 2h total).
From the end of the via ferrata we descend a few short sections that are aided but not difficult and we return to the start of the route. Then we proceed in the direction of the Passo di Spino where following the signs to the left we will return to Cascina Gemelle for the path traveled to the outward and then to the car (1h from the end of the ferrata - 3h total).
If you want you can reach the visible Pirlo Hut in about 10 minutes and get off the very direct path that joins the CAI 1 further downstream.
The Ferrata Ernesto Franco is a decidedly physical and largely non-climbing via ferrata. The route is characterized by many horizontal and diagonal ascending and descending traverses. This will put a strain on the athletic estate and a quickdraw may be advised to stop if the forces fail. Beyond the traverses, the points of greatest effort are a couple of edges and the last vertical wall. The rock is very solid but in many places it is smooth and leaves few grips and will need to proceed in adherence. The equipment is good and some are characteristic of the point where the rope splits and seems to be positioned to create a rope "bracket".
An alternative itinerary is to combine the Ferrata Ernesto Franco with the neighbor Via Ferrata Spigolo della Bandiera. From the junction at Cascina Gemelle you will soon reach the Spigolo della Bandiera. This could be done either on the way there or back. It will be evaluated if you want to go to the Pirlo hut. In this case it is perhaps convenient to go first along the Ferrata Spigolo della Bandiera and then the Ferrata Ernesto Franco.
If you wanted to change areas to take another ferrata you could go to the Casto and Lodrino area. In that area one could opt for the Via Ferrata Caspai, the Via Ferrata Nasego or one of the various routes to the Ferrata delle Fucine di Casto.
Approach: 1:30 h
Ferrata: 0:20 h
Itinerary: 3:00 h
Ferrata height difference: 40 m
Route difference: 650 m
Max altitude: 1165 m
Length: 11.6 Km