Via Mala – Colere, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Via Mala is a stretch of an ancient road that links Val di Scalve to Valcamonica along the Dezzo river, which runs at the bottom of a deep gorge. On one side of this gorge, a precarious road was carved out of the rock. Water constantly drips from the sides and ceiling of the overhanging rock, stopping only in winter, when pillars of ice form along the road. To one side of the road is coarse rock, and to the other is an almost vertical ravine of several hundred feet.

The earliest mention of this road is from 1473, a document outlying its upgrading. Archaeological findings along and beyond this road, however, suggest that Via Mala may already have been used in prehistoric times. What remains of Via Mala today was upgraded in the 1960s, but the upgrades have not aged well. True to its name, Via Mala (Evil Road) claimed numerous victims, and it was eventually deemed unsuitable for transit. New tunnels were constructed in the 1990s that bypassed the most terrifying (yet spectacular) parts of Via Mala.

Via Mala remained in a state of disrepair for more than 20 years, when a local initiative secured one kilometer of the road and opened a walking trail along what once was a busy road. Before the new tunnels commence, there is a parking lot that gives access to the walking trail. Protective nets prevent rocks from falling on the trail, metal posts support the ceiling in the most precarious passages, a proper fence runs along the road, and a panoramic balcony was installed. 

Where the walking trail comes to an end, Via Mala continues on. This section of the road, however, is dangerous.  Parts of the fence have disappeared alongside sections of the road itself, big and small rocks have been falling on the road, and the freezing and thawing have created deep cracks in the road.  Another kilometer further uphill, the road disappears altogether and turns into a narrow path cutting through the vegetation that has reclaimed the road.

It is possible to descend to the Dezzo river via a trail and admire Via Mala from the bottom of the gorge, but it is a steep hike that should only be attempted in good weather conditions.

Know Before You Go

Please be cautious of the conditions before attempting this hike.

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September 6, 2021

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