This ferrata is located on Monte Frasassi, a stone's throw from the homonymous "Frasassi Caves". Its peculiarity lies in a huge natural cavern that crosses the mountain from side to side (hence the name "Foro Degli Occhialoni" meaning "Big-glasses hole") making the journey incredibly suggestive and rich in views of rocky towers, overhangs and surrounding mountains. There are no brackets or pegs, the hiker will move exclusively on rock, passing through natural tunnels, traverses on terraces, ledges and spectacular aerial ridges.
The starting point is near San Vittore Di Chiuse (Genga) in the province of Ancona. Once you reach the village you can safely leave the car in the parking lot in front of the hermitage.
Directions for Google Maps available here.
Alternatively, if the parking spaces were occupied, there is a large parking area in the immediate vicinity of the village.
Leaving the car at the hermitage, we set off towards the Roman bridge behind us. It can be recognized thanks to a tower with a small vaulted arch that defines its access. Cross the bridge and head towards the obvious sign of the CAI paths, we will always follow the signs for "Foro degli Occhialoni". In about 1 hour of walking we will reach the start of the via ferrata. Only note, pay attention to the first junction that you will encounter on the way: at the sign "Sulfuria" take the path ascending to the right, from there the indications CAI continue normally. The start of the via ferrata is found inside the evident cavern (or Foro) that you will find at the end of the route, after a short and easy passage on rocks.
The via ferrata starts descending through a rocky tunnel carved by water. There are always handles and supports for the feet. The route runs downhill on some rocky traverses until it reaches the gravelly bottom of the cave. Here ends the first section of the ferrata, keeping to the left of the gravel bottom you can see a small path below, bordered by a tree. As soon as you get off the path, the ferrata resumes, continuing on a long traverse that will first pass through a natural tunnel, then onto a ledge and finally onto a rocky terrace. At the end of the rocky terrace, the ferrata climbs vertically on a leaning slab (key passage) leading us on a thin aerial ridge. Continue on the ridge until the end of the steel cable. Once the cable is finished, go along the ridge in its entirety, reaching its peak. From here you can see a track with an elbow bend that begins the downhill section. Immediately after the curve, he takes the last stretch of the via ferrata which will help us to descend with passages in climbing. The ferrata ends (about 2h 40 'from the parking lot) after this last cable. From here we will continue on a path with short exposed stretches (but always protected by the surrounding vegetation) and stretches aided with rope sections.
Continuing on the path that descends from the ridge, you face two steps in climbing aided with ropes (both of about 2 meters). Continue steep descent on a dirt track until you reach the forest below. The vegetation always helps to continue in the steepest stretches. Keep on the track until you reach the "Buca del Colonnello" (a small cave that leads to the complex of Frasassi). From here they resume the normal red signs left by the CAI. Continuing uphill, you rejoin the path that you faced at the start. Once you have crossed the main path, turn right to return to the starting point (total arrival time 3h30), practically retracing the entire approach path. Alternatively you can turn left to arrive at the hermitage of Santa Maria Infra Saxa (see "Opportunities").
the path is not suitable for neophytes since it is devoid of brackets and changes. It is recommended to bring along a piece of rope to help any people in difficulty in the key passage.
Once rejoined on the main approach path, you can turn left to visit the hermitage of Santa Maria Infra Saxa. The trail climbs passing in front of the "Foro degli Occhialoni", but this time we will overtake it going left uphill. Here begins a track on rock called "i Gradoni", literally some steps with aided tract (EEA steel cable) that climb to a short aerial ridge. After the ridge, continue along a narrow path (EE) which offers a breathtaking view of cliffs and the valley below. The path is always marked by CAI signs. Going through it in its entirety you arrive on the main road that leads to the hermitage (left turn). Visited the hermitage and its caves it is possible to go down to the paved road that in about half an hour will take us back to the parking point in San Vittore di Chiuse (total 6 hours: ferrata + hermitage) Alternatively you can leave a car in the parking lot of the hermitage and thus avoid the return on the paved road. Needless to say, you can end the via ferrata with a visit to the famous Frasassi caves (ticket office and shuttles at San Vittore).
Review by Francesco Palazzetti.
Approach: 1:00 h
Ferrata: 1:45 h
Itinerary: 3:30 h
Ferrata height difference: 200 m
Route difference: 400 m
Max altitude: 610 m
Length: 5 Km
Appenino Umbro Marchigiano