The Ferrata of the Gravina or of the Caldanello is an interesting aided route located in Calabria in the Pollino National Park. The ferrata winds through the Caldanello stream along its two walls.
To reach Cerchiara of Calabria, exit at Frascineto (A3) and for 28 km of winding mountain road you reach Cerchiara di Calabria. The ideal is to look for parking near the Church of the medieval village.
Directions for Google Maps available here.
A peculiarity of this via ferrata is the possibility to undertake it from 4 different points:
The most used point to take the Ferrata Gravina is behind the town hall of the town. To add the Town Hall the direction is to go up from the Church of St. Peter the Apostle for 100 meters towards the town hall and locate the cable immediately behind the building.
Near the Carabinieri Barracks you follow the white red signs in the direction of the Fontava Vecchia purification plant. This is also the point of return from the escape route if the path from the first entrance is taken.
Go up towards the ruins of the Norman Castle from where it is possible to take the downhill ferrata.
The least used starting point is on the opposite side of the stream from Calvario. Follow an exposed and downhill path that will lead us to take the via ferrata starting from the variant.
This report considers taking the route from the first entry. We engage immediately behind the town hall and take the downhill path towards the Caldanello. We will soon reach a crossroads where we will keep the right. After a while you reach the beginning of the real ferrata along a traverse called "Imperial Branch". The traverse exposure has the particularity of having the cable positioned at a comfortable height for the hiker, therefore it requires good arm strength in at least a couple of uncomfortable points. In fact, the rock creates a roof effect in which it is not comfortable to stop. Once the traverse is finished, a stretch of rock is raised vertically thanks also to the metal equipment present. Descend on a ledge to reach the escape route called Briglia (second entrance). Continuing the ferrata, we go up a vertical section where - as in other parts of the via ferrata - there are no nailsums, so in the event of a fall the effect can be severe for the hiker; therefore pay the utmost attention. We arrive at an exposed traverse before going along a long ledge. At the end of the ledge we climb a vertical wall (without intermediate nailsum) from which we will reach the ruins of the castle (third entrance - 1h 15 'total).
There is a variation to this itinerary. Once at the escape route (second entrance), you can descend to the bed of the stream and take a more difficult variant that runs along the opposite side of the gorge. This variant consists of a couple of vertical walls, without grips where the condition of the equipment suggests proceeding with caution (and possibly abseiling). Then proceed on traverses and ledges and cross traverses until the end of the via ferrata halfway up the wall. Here it is possible to retrace the route of the outward journey and complete the via ferrata up to the Norman Castle (2h 45 'total) or go up one of the steep paths and then return to Cerchiara along one of the roads. (3h total approximately).
Considering the classic route that ends near the castle, go back down to the town and, depending on the parking, reach the car (approximately 15 minutes).
This interesting ferrata takes place along a very interesting gorge. On the technical side it is worth mentioning that in the few vertical stretches (uphill and downhill) there are no intermediate nailsums and therefore it is particularly important not to fall, as it would inevitably fall towards the underlying pine. For this it may be useful a piece of rope (20 m) to double down the vertical sections.
There are no via ferratas in the area. The nearest via ferratas are in Basilicata: the 'Via Ferrata Salemm, the Via Ferrata Belvedere, the Ferrata Marcirosa and the Via Ferrata Arenazzo. Moving instead towards the Campania regione, you can reach Volturara Irpina where it is installed the recent Via Ferrata Maroia.
Approach: 0:20 h
Ferrata: 1:15 h
Itinerary: 2:30 h
Via Ferrata gap: 60 m
Route difference: 200 m
Max altitude: 1439 m
Length: 3 Km