With regard to the effort it requires and the incomparable beauty of the surrounding environment, this loop is a “classic” of the territory of Primiero. Although it is widely popular, especially during the summer season, this route should be done at least once in a lifetime by all lovers of the Dolomites and, more generally, of the Alps. Along the whole itinerary, the hikers are going to be surrounded by the vast pastures that extend to the north of Passo Rolle. The loop is also characterized by the presence, in the center, of a rocky relief with a rounded appearance and steep porphyritic walls called Castelaz, also known as Monte Castellazzo. The Castelaz rises from the pastures of Passo Rolle completely isolated, if compared to the other surrounding mountain blocks. The proposed trail tracks a complete loop around Castelaz, in its classic version (with start and arrival in Val Venegia), also reaching the top of the mountain. In addition to being an exceptional panoramic balcony on the northern chain of the Pale di San Martino and on the Val Travignolo, Castelaz has several remains of the Great War, consequently adding historical background to the hike.
The itinerary starts from the car park of Malga Venégia (1,778 m asl), which can be easily approached from the road that leads from the location of Paneveggio up to the Valles pass. The first part of the route follows the gravel road named Val Venegia towards the Baita Segantini, which develops along the Travignolo stream. The road gradually climbs between the wide pastures, offering a remarkable sight of the main peaks of the northern block of the Pale di San Martino mountain group: Mulaz, Bureloni, Focobón, Val Grande, Vezzana and Cimon della Pala. After about 45 minutes, you arrive at Malga Venegiòta (1,824 m asl), where the road continues uphill through the forest, until reaching the wide basin of Pian della Vezzana (about 1,930 m asl), for then proceeding through its last of ascent towards Baita Segantini.
After about 2h 30 from the start, you reach the hut of Baita Segantini (2,170), with its beautiful landscape, where the route begins the descent towards Capanna Cervino / Passo Rolle. Just before reaching Capanna Cervino, take the path rapidly climbing to the summit of Castelaz, on its eastern side. In about 45 minutes, you can reach the top of Castelaz (2,333 m asl), which offers a 360 degree view, with the Pale di San Martino in the north, the Lagorai mountain range in the south and Catinaccio and Marmolada ranges in the west.
The itinerary continues by descending from Castelaz and heading back to Capanna Cervino (2,082 m asl). From the hut, the track follows the comfortable gravel road that leads to Malga Juribello (1,868 m asl), which can be reached in about 45 minutes. Just before reaching the hut, about 300 m upstream of the structure, you leave the main path turning right towards the north east, following the signs to Malga Venégia / Malga Vengiòta. This last stretch proceeds along a fairly technical and sometimes slippery path, which leaves the pastures of Juribello to descend into the forest along the western slope of the Castelaz, leading directly to the hut of Malga Venégia.
- From the hut of Malga Venégia (1,778 m asl), follow the gravel road named Val Venegia towards Baita Segantini, passing through the hut of Malga Venegiòta (1,778 m asl),
- From Baita Segantini (2,170 m asl), keep following the Val Venegia road towards Passo Rolle, towards Capanna Cervino,
- Right before reaching the hut of Capanna Cervino, take the path heading to the top of Castelaz, until reaching the summit,
- From the top of Castelaz (2,333 m asl), head back to Capanna Cervino,
- From Capanna Cervino (2,082 m asl), continue along the Val Venégia road and then take the gravel road towards Malga Juribello,
- About 300 m before the hut of Malga Juribello, leave the main path by taking the other towards the north-east, pointing to Malga Venegia; follow it until reaching the starting point, in the proximity of the hut. ✓
- The Valley of Venìa (Venegia), which extends from Pian dei Casoni up to the Travignolo Glacier and is characterized by the large grassy basin that acts as a natural amphitheater on the northern block of the Pala Group, is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful valleys of the Dolomites.
- In addition to the watercourse of Travignolo, the valley has two historical huts: Venìa (Venegia) and Veniòta (Venegiòta), historically managed – respectively – by the breeders of the villages of Transacqua and Tonadico.
- Apart from the west entrance at Pian dei Casoni, Venìa is a valley closed on all sides and it is possible to reach it only through high altitude gaps, in the past without trails and practically uncrossable. From the wise words of Samuele “Pape” Scalet: “this helps to understand the origin of the correct name Val Venìa which means Valley beyond which there is no nìa (nothing), and so it has always been called until a few years ago, until the invasion of the Venigie, which have no meaning at all. And it is a real shame to lose the original toponyms because these arose from precise meanings captured on the spot by the people who lived and worked in that place”.
- A second hypothesis that has been circulating in recent times, for which the name Venìa / Venegia derives from Venice because of the timber that was transported from Venìa to Venice, is geographically very unlikely.
- Until the 1960s, Venìa was also a place of military exercises and the erratic boulder, which now lies at the foot of the (former) Travignolo Glacier, was used as a target for light artillery.
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.
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.