Despite many visiting Caoria and walking in the Lagorai starting from the near location of Refavaie, there are certainly fewer who have wondered where the large parking lot located two thirds of the road SP 56, connecting the villages of Canal San Bovo with Caoria, leads to. This adventurous hiking tour visits two truly unique and unpopular historical places near Caoria: the Italian trenches of Pralongo, dated back to the Great War, and the nearby copper mines, fully functioning until 1943. The two sites of extreme historical importance for the territory of Primiero, combined with the impressive gullies (once meadows and now immersed in dense vegetation), together with the “Andean” stretches of the path create a unique combination of historical, landscape and imaginary elements that are truly surprising.
The route starts from the wide parking lot of Pralongo (771 m asl), with an initial visit to the Italian trenches of the Great War, used by the Italian army during the first year of the conflict. After a short but steep uphill stretch, you reach the well-preserved remains of trenches, concrete bunkers and artillery positions. The visit to this site, which is located just over a hundred meters from the parking lot, is suitable for everyone, as it only requires a short ascent on the wide winding track that was used to take the artillery pieces to the site.
From the highest point of the trenches, the itinerary continues uphill following the signs towards Caoria / Piazzali e funicolare miniere, in a stretch that goes straight up into the forest, poorly marked but quite intuitive. After less than 100 meters, the path crosses a small gully on the left, after which the section of the clearly visible historic path connecting the downstream structures of the mines with the upper ones begins. This section, particularly fascinating but physically demanding, alternates very suggestive steep stone steps, which climb up to the side of the “boàl” (tr. gully) of Pralongo, in a silent wooded environment. After two passages equipped with a metal rope, in less than a kilometer gaining about 350 in elevation, you reach the impressive – given the surrounding environment – terraces of the upper structures of the mines, alongside which are located the tunnels to the old copper mines (about 1,150 m asl). On the very first terrace, there are three possible paths: the first (slightly downhill to the right) leads in a few meters to the entrance of the tunnel of the so-called “Santa Barbara level” (160 m long and used to reach the Parolini vein), the second (climbing uphill in front of you) allows you to continue the visit to the upper terraces, the third (flat on the left) heads towards the village of Caoria. From this point, it is possible to explore the area by continuing the ascent on the structures that climb between the gullies named “boàl de stagn” and “boàl Parolini”; however, it is necessary to be extremely careful, given the partially aided but always quite exposed sections of the path and the rather unstable and sometimes wet ground.
By continuing the ascent, it is indeed possible to reach other artificial terraces and the entrance of several tunnels, including that of the so-called “Parolini level”, 400 m long and the main one of the mining site. The various entrances were connected with a system of underground tunnels more than 1,300 m long; the extracted material was collected downstream through the use of a cableway.
After having optionally explored the area, the route continues on the obvious and easy track that leads to Caoria, used in the past by mine workers. The track, never too steep or exposed, continues towards NW, descending into a particularly clean forest, once occupied by meadows. After a couple of kilometers, the trail reaches the gravel road above the southernmost hamlet belonging to the town of Caoria (called Caoria de Fóra), visible in front. The itinerary then continues on the road turning left towards the SE, passing over the deer enclosure – located at the entrance of Caoria – and taking you directly to the main road SP 56, which you follow for a kilometer towards Canal San Bovo before getting back to the starting point, at Pralongo.
- From the parking lot of Pralongo (771 m asl), go up to the WWI remains of the “Sbarramento di Pralongo”,
- From the highest visitable point of the WWI remains, proceed uphill following the signs towards Caoria / Piazzali e funicolare miniere,
- Go up the “boàl” of Pralongo on the old service path of the mine structures until reaching the first terrace of the upper structures, at the so-called “Santa Barbara level” (about 1,150 m asl),
- [VARIANT] Visit the mining site,
- From the terrace, turn left and proceed for 2 km on the initially flat path that continues NW, towards Caoria, until you reach the gravel road,
- Follow the gravel road to the left, towards the SE, until you reach the main road SP 56,
- Continue for 1 km on the paved road SP 56 towards Canal San Bovo, heading back to the parking lot of Pralongo. ✓
CLOSE OF PRALONGO
Gadenz, S. Toffol, M. Zanetel, L. (1993). Le Miniere di Primiero, raccolta antologica di studi. Primiero: Comitato storico-rievocativo di Primiero.
Taufer, E. (1977). Guida delle valli del Primiero, Cismon-Mis-Vanoi. Trento: Società Alpinisti Tridentini.