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canyon exploring with Michele Angileri

Gola del Raganello - 1

Born on northern side of Dolcedorme (the highest top of Pollino range), Raganello creek goes down to the near Ionian Sea through am unbelievable scenery, grand and sublime, made of huge walls and long narrow corridors surrounded by hanging woods of ilex and embellished by oleander flowers.

It's the scenery of Raganello Gorges, a natural monument of unparalleled beauty, produced by a unique geological situation. It's a famous place, today, attracting thousands of tourist every year. Each summer many groups of hikers go through the canyon, most of them without any proper gear or clothing. In the hot summer days the sound of fresh water jumping on boulders, echoing on canyon's walls, is like a siren song that's impossible to resist. The surprising forms of erosion and the majesty of the high walls enchant and hypnotize. Hiking and scrambling through the canyon soon becomes a mystical experience of contemplation and communion with nature, but remains always alive and strong the dimension of play and adventure. In Raganello you always feel like small children who move into a kind of giant playground.

Raganello has 2 main canyons and a short one (that is in fact a part of second one). The first is Barile canyon, the giant rift with which the Raganello passes the high wall of the Timpe, the tall mountains of nude rock layers that are one of the most grand and beautiful natural monuments of Pollino National Park.

Then Raganello becomes a wide fiumara flowing in the valley between the Timpe and mount Sparviere, on whose side there's the village of San Lorenzo Bellizzi. But soon the path to Ionian Sea is obstructed again, this time from mount Sellaro, and again is a huge rift allowing Raganello to pass over. This canyon is the one known as Raganello Gorges.
Just before the Gorges, Raganello flows through the short, beautiful narrows of Pietraponte. The name Pietraponte comes from a huge boulder embedded on the top of narrows that was used as a bridge to pass the canyon. In fact Pietraponte narrows are the first part of Raganello Gorges.

The Gorges are a continuous sequence of sceneries of extraordinary beauty, a source of inspiration for thousands of photographs. Even wanting to be concise, the minimum number (truly minimal) of photos that can represent to an acceptable extent such a beauty is too high for a page of this site. That's why you find 2 pages dedicated to Raganello Gorges. The pages have the same texts and detailed description, but different photographs and videos. This page shows Pietraponte narrows and the first part of Raganello Gorges. The second part is here.

Name Gola del Raganello - 1
Area Calabria
Nearest village San Lorenzo Bellizzi
Elevation loss 250 m
Length 6 km
Highest cascade 11 m
Rock Limestone
Shuttle Needed
Explored by G. Braschi, S. Frisenda, V. Mancini; august 2 1980


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What you find in the detailed description

I remember ...

I was lucky for having gone through Raganello canyon many times, and each of them gave me unforgettable memories ... of awe, fear, joy, fatigue, adventure, serenity, ... and beauty, infinite immense beauty, every time, always. It's impossible to tell everything.

First time was in 1986. Canyon had been explored since a few years, but it was not known yet to the wider public. Even the locals knew little, and I can say it with certainty because I'm one of the "locals".

I came to the canyon going upstream along the fiumara. I thought all the Raganello was a wide fiumara, up to San Lorenzo Bellizzi and beyond. Instead, at some point, the river bed reduced to a few meters enclosed by high walls. Before that point the strong sunlight fell on grey boulders and green water; then was twilight, lit by glints on the walls that amplified the sound of water jumping between big boulders. Above, a stunning medieval arch-bridge (I knew later that it was called Ponte del Diavolo, Devil's Bridge).
An unbelievable place. It was august, and we were alone in the presence of such a giant environment.

Today, 30 years later, you can see dozens of tourists on every day of August in the narrows under Devil's Bridge. Much less than in Alcantara narrows, luckily, and as you go along the canyon you finally find yourself alone with Nature in such an unbelievable place. In the rest of the year, in june or september and also in most July days, you can be alone even under Ponte del Diavolo.

Of course, I'm happy for having lived the "pioneer" age of Raganello canyons and their tributaries, when inexperienced groups went along the canyon without wetsuits, harnesses, kegs, grip-sole shoes, nothing of what today makes the canyoneering gear. A grappling hook made from an iron rod cut and shaped, tied to a nylon rope bought at the hardware store of the village helped us to climb the falls, a k-way protected us from the cold, and for keeping dry our backpacks the only thing we had was launching them to the first who had passed the pool.
Unrepeatable moments and situations that will always remain with me, who have become part of me.

Photographs in this website show ultralight ropes (6 mm ropes made of high tenacity fibers). Read multimedia book Ultralight ropes canyoning technique to learn how to use them.

Copyright © 2002- Michele Angileri. All rights reserved.