It is probably worth mentioning that the trail called “Trekking del Cristo Pensante” is now one of the most classic and popular itineraries in the Primiero area. Designed by Pino Dallasega with the aim of allowing young people and families not only to appreciate the natural beauties of the area, but also to have a deeper connection with them, the hike of a few hours, ambitiously called with the name of “trekking”, goes from the pass of Passo Rolle up to the summit of Monte Castellazzo (Castelàz), upon which the statue of the “thinking Christ” or “pondering Christ” (Cristo Pensante) lays. After passing by the statue, the trail then descends to the famous hut of Baita Segantini. Therefore, in a short amount of time and with relatively little effort, the itinerary passes in succession through places that make it simply beautiful!
The starting point is by the mountain pass of Passo Rolle (1,984 m asl), near a large car park located just a few hundred meters from the gap, on the east side, towards the village of San Martino di Castrozza. From the parking lot, the trail starts with an uphill stretch on the gravel road with comfortable hairpin bends that immediately leads to a first crossroads, where you take the gravel road on the right leading to the hut of Capanna Cervino (2,084 m asl). Currently being a restaurant, the hut was born in the 1930s as the base of the ski school founded by Alfredo Paluselli, who gave this name to the building in honor of the peak of Cimon della Pala, called “the Matterhorn of the Dolomites” (Cervino is the Matterhorn) because of its characteristic shape. From the hut of Capanna Cervino, the route continues the ascent by keeping the gravel road and, after a wide hairpin bend and a subsequent curve, you reach yet another crossroads, at about 2,134 meters of altitude.
At the crossroads, the trail proceeds to the left heading north, taking the small path towards Monte Castellazzo, which can be easily seen by its appearance that recalls a natural fortress (hence the name of Castelàz, tr. ugly castle). After crossing some meadows until you reach an almost flat saddle, you head to the left, where the ascent of Monte Castellazzo begins and, developing on the western slope of the summit. The path, well maintained, has some slightly steep sections; it leads directly to the west of the summit, in the area of the “Stóli del Castellazzo” (military outposts and tunnels dating back to the Great War). After passing the “Stóli”, you can easily reach the top of Monte Castellazzo (2,333 m asl) with the statue of Cristo Pensante. The sculpture, made by Paolo Lauton and placed in 2009 on the Castelàz – until then a mountain forgotten from the hiking world – was carved from a single block of white marble of Predazzo (Predazzite). As an additional note, the crown of the statue is made with barbed wire from the First World War.
From Monte Castellazzo the descent follows the path that continues to the north-east of the summit, on the opposite side of the way of the ascent, crossing further areas of remains of outposts of the Great War overlooking the underlying valley of Venegia and reaching the saddle between the peaks of Castellazzo and Costazza.
From the saddle, the path from is clearly identifiable and marked (Trekking del Cristo Pensante) and follows the signs for Baita Segantini. With some ups and downs, it turns around the southern side of the peak of Cima Costazza (2,282 m asl) and reaches, with a final flat stretch, the head of Val Venegia, where the hut of Baita Segantini (2,181 m asl) is located. The sight offered by Baita Segantini is amazing, with an extraordinary view of the peaks of Cimon della Pala, Vezzana, Mulaz and, more generally, of the entire western section of the Pale di San Martino.
From Baita Segantini, the way back to Passo Rolle proceeds initially following, for a few hundred meters, the gravel road towards Passo Rolle, then it takes downhill the path on the left that leads directly to the pass, passing again by Capanna Cervino.
- From the mountain pass of Passo Rolle (1.984 m asl), follow the gravel road ascending towards Capanna Cervino / Baita Segantini,
- From the hut of Capanna Cervino (2,084 m asl), continue the ascent, always following the gravel road up to the crossroads at 2,134 m asl,
- At the crossroads, take the path on the left, towards the north, heading to the summit of Monte Castellazzo,
- From the top of Monte Castellazzo (2,333 m asl), descend along the path that continues north-east of the summit, following the signs towards Baita Segantini,
- From the hut of Baita Segantini (2,181 m asl), start descending by following the gravel road for a few hundred meters, then take the path on the left which heads directly to Passo Rolle. ✓
CASTELAZ: FROM THE GREAT WAR TO THE THINKING CHRIST
- The Castelaz (2,333 m asl), also known as Monte Castellàzzo, is an isolated rock that looks like a natural fortress. The 22nd of October 1915, during the first part of WWI, the Italian troops occupied the summit, building a system of outposts and trenches on the top of the mountain with the aim of monitoring the enemy front line.
- From the summit of Castelaz, it is possible to have a complete overview of Cima Bócche, Passo Rolle, Val Travignolo, Val di Fiemme and Buse dell’Oro. The strategic position of the outpost was allowing the Italian troops to point the artillery towards the Austro-Hungarian lines positioned by Cima Bocche, Paneveggio and Colbricón.
- By the plateau called Pian della Vezzana (approx. 1,920m a.s.l.), it is still possible to see the ruins of an old military camp (here is the exact location), used as a lower altitude camp hosting troops and supplying ammunitions (presumably through a lift) to the outposts on the top of Monte Castelaz. About 1000 men from the Calabria and Basilicata brigades were stationed by the Castelaz.
- While the trenches and outposts on the top of Castelaz are now a tourist attraction, the ruins in Pian della Vezzana have never been repaired nor included as part of any WWI itinerary, so they just stand fully abandoned.
- The Austro-Hungarian troops have never struck against Castelaz, thus the summit remained occupied by the Italians until November 1917 when, following the devastating defeat of Caporetto, the Italian troops withdrew to the new line on the Piave river.
- Before 2009, the Castelàz (tr. ugly castle) has been undoubtedly one of the least popular summits in Primiero. Since 2009, tens of thousands of visitors have been walking to visit the statue of Cristo Pensante (tr. thinking/pondering Jesus). The statue was made by Paolo Lauton with a single block of white marble from Predázzo (Predazzìte). Remarkable is the crown of the statue, built with WWI barbed wire. Pino Dellasega is the actual creator of the idea of developing a special trekking around the statue (Trekking del Cristo Pensante), with the aim of enabling young people and families to stay in contact with nature, having some spiritual thoughts at the same time.
BAITA SEGANTINI AND CAPANNA CERVINO
- Additionally to the morphological one, there is a logical line which connects the huts of Baita Segantini and Capanna Cervino; in fact, both of them were born thanks to the artist, guide and polyglot Alfredo Paluselli (1900-1969), also known as “Custode del Cimone” (tr. the guardian of Cimon della Pala).
- Born in Ziano di Fiemme, Paluselli is certainly one of the pioneers of “modern” sports and tourism culture in the region; thanks to work experiences that allowed him to observe different cultures in Switzerland and the United States of America. Once he returned back to Italy, after founding an athletics team in Val di Fassa and obtaining the title of Ski Instructor, he decided to found the first skiing school in the Dolomites, together with his wife Lina.
- Prefabricated by Paluselli with modular blocks in his laboratory in Ziano, the hut of Capanna Cervino was built in the 1930s. The building takes its name from the Cimon della Pala (called “Cervino delle Dolomiti” for its shape, similar to the Matterhorn / Cervino / Cervin). The school was the first one of its kind in Italy to offer accommodation and ski lessons together in one package.
- In 1936, while searching for new inspirations, after having restored a path from the Great War connecting Passo Rolle with Passo Costazza, Paluselli devoted himself completely to the Dolomites pass, building what will be his home for the coming 35 years (including the famous winter of 1950-1951 when Passo Rolle was submerged by more than 25 meters of snow): Baita Segantini.
- Paluselli, known for his frankness, was known to dislike being surrounded by people and to swear at anyone who posed or flaunted harshly. It is also known that Paluselli opened his home to visitors only occasionally, when he left to go back to the valley or to climb, leaving its guests with a simple ticket with the words: “Entrate, bevete, pagate” (tr. come in, drink, pay”).
- The hut, originally built in Bellamonte for then being dismantled and reassembled where is located today by Paluselli, is entitled to the painter from Arco. Baita Segantini remains today one of the most visited destinations in the Dolomites. Among its most illustrious visitors, Alcide De Gasperi, Aldo Moro, Leopold III of Belgium and Pope John XIII.
- Trekking del Cristo Pensante: http://www.trekkingdelcristopensante.it/