When you are about to reach Civago - the last outpost in the Reggio territory before reaching the Radici pass - you cannot miss a rocky peak that overlooks the town. The Penna of Civago (literally "Civago's Feather") is characterized by a sharp profile composed of several walls that rapidly rise to 1400 m. A difficult but short ferrata has recently been completed on this bold wall.
The starting point is the village Case di Civago which can be reached in about 1 hour and 30 minutes from Reggio Emilia or Modena. Once in Case di Civago it is possible to park the car along the abundant parking lots in the dirt road from which several well-trodden paths lead to the Battisti, Segheria and Bargetana huts.
Directions for Google Maps available here.
Park the car, continue on foot on the dirt road for 5 minutes always keeping the Penna of Civago on our right until you see a sign from which a steep track branches off. Follow the path with white trail signs that first climb steeply for a stony ground and then for steep paths. A exposed cross leads us to the beginning of the equipment (30 'from the parking lot).
The via ferrata is characterized by a vertical thrust. The sandstone is sometimes not very climbable and pegs, handles and pegs are optimally arranged to facilitate progression. The ferrata initially extends on two dihedrals to then pass an exposed edge and continue on a demanding chimney. Once the chimney is finished, cross a grassy path where you can stop and rest before the second and more demanding part of the via ferrata begins.
The second part of the via ferrata immediately begins vertical with a slightly overhanging wall in which the metal equipment helps the progression, however, on a fairly high level of difficulty. Once this wall of about 10 meters is finished, you will find yourself on a small ledge where you can recover your strength before the key passage of the route: an overhanging belly on an 8 meter wall. Although optimally aided, this belly requires to be approached with caution and rapidity of movement to avoid finding oneself without more strength in the arms before having finished it. The advice is to study the arrangement of all the handles before facing the overhanging section.
Once the key passage is over, you find yourself in an exposed sandstone slab in which some brackets facilitate the ascent although it is difficult to avoid pulling the cable in at least a couple of points because of the peculiarity of the rock (smooth sandstone).
Once this slab is finished we are in the final stretch of the via ferrata with difficulties now contained. In 5 'we finish the climb of a small wall and the overcoming of an exposed but simple ledge. At this point the ferrata is finished and you can enjoy a beautiful view from above over Civago, over Lake Fontanaluccia and over Monte Giovarello (1h from the start - 1h 30 'total).
Before starting the actual descent you have to continue 5 minutes uphill on a steep path that leads us onto a CAI path. You can return to Civago either by going to the right or to the left. However we suggest to continue to the left (CAI 631 A) towards the Cavallina. This path is less steep than CAI 607 and about the same time (40 ') takes us back to the parking lot. From CAI 631 A you descend until you reach the CAI 605 which will be taken to the left. If you need to stock up on water you can take the CAI 605 to the right for 5 'where there is a source. The path 605 is a comfortable mule track that ends in the dirt road where the car has been parked (2h 30 'total).
This via ferrata is short however it is athletic and a couple of steps can put in serious difficulty the inexperienced or poorly trained hiker. A peculiarity is that the difficult stretches are gradually increasing after the start leaving, in fact, few opportunities to interrupt the ascent and retrace your steps. In the summer of 2018, 2 additional brackets were inserted in the key passage of the route which significantly reduced the difficulty of this passage.
Although there are no other via ferratas reachable without using the car, the via ferrata Barranco del Dolo it is 4 km away from Case di Civago so it lends itself very well to be the natural continuation for the enthusiast hikera.
If you want to continue a more traditional trip you could continue on CAI 607 up to Monte Ravino and then go along the Alpe di Vallestrina and reach the Passone (2 h from the end of the ferrata). From the Passone you can turn left onto the CAI 615 towards Lama Lite (possibility of refreshment at the Battisti hut). From Lama Lite you can descend the valley towards Rifugio Segheria and then towards Case di Civago (4:30 h from the end of the Ferrata).
If you wish to return to the car, it is possible to do one of the following ferrates on the same day:
Approach: 0:30 h
Ferrata: 1:00 h
Itinerary: 2:30 h
Via Ferrata gap: 145 m
Route difference: 480 m
Max altitude: 1505 m
Length: 5 Km
Mountain Group: Appenino Tosco-Emiliano