canyon exploring with Michele Angileri

Fosso San Michele

An ancient and solitary rupestrian hermitage overlooking the dense woods of the Turano valley is the starting point of a canyoning descent which, in the right season, offers pleasant sceneries and emotions.

Name Fosso San Michele
Area Lazio
Nearest village Montorio in Valle
Elevation loss 300 m
Length 900 m
Highest cascade 20 m
Rock Limestone
Rating3
Shuttle Recommended
Explored by Michele Angileri, Andrea Pucci; May 2005
First descent in water conditions: Michele Angileri, Giuseppe Martino; December 13th 2020

 

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What you find in the detailed description

I remember ...

At Turano valley the often dense and thorny and sometimes impracticable vegetation can put a strain on canyoneers and make them conclude, wrongly, that that stream or that area is not interesting ...

Seen from below, Fosso San Michele was the most promising among the creeks on the left side of Lake Turano. The exploration of that part of Turano valley, at that time unknown to canyoning, must start from there.
We left shuttle car by the lake, then we went up to San Michele's rupestrian church. Very little water was flowing in the creek, much less than I had seen in the previous weeks, in reconnaissance. There was some flow, however, so we put on our wetsuits. There was much vegetation. The creek was quite open and steep, featuring an almost continuous sequence of falls, but soon water disappeared and all went dry.
Below, at some point, the valley became more open, and we met a brambles barrier, then another, then another again. They were too dense for us to be passed (we had not machete or billhook), so we began avoiding them passing far from the bed, and still it wasn't easy because vegetation was dense and thorny on the valley's sides too.
At last we arrived at the shuttle car definitely tired, our wetsuits half-ruined by shrubs and thorns. We concluded that Fosso San Michele was not worth the descent, so we classified it an uninteresting canyoning route. And since the San Michele had looked as the most promising of the torrents in that sector of Turano valley then, evidently, the full sector must be uninteresting: better go searching for canyoning routes in other areas.

Years pass, experience increases, and so do my technical skills and familiarity with dense and thorny vegetation ... One day, passing over there, my eye goes to a valley parallel to San Michele. It looks a bit like a canyon, and now the jungle does not scare me, indeed it amuses me. So why not go and explore it? gorge or jungle it would be a beautiful day of outdoor activity, anyway!
So I go. It is february 2019; it's a dry winter, very little water in the stream, but there are waterfalls and pools and little vegetation. Interesting, but should be descended with more water.
Two months later, in spring, the flow-rate is good, so I go there again. Pleasant, interesting, not trivial ... beautiful! and it also changes my perspective: because if there is a pleasant and interesting stream here then there must be others in this area as well. Maybe even the San Michele ... Perhaps we were shallow in judging it uninteresting. It would be appropriate to repeat it. So that same day, in late afternoon, I go to the hermitage to take a look.
I am greeted by sound of waterfalls, telling this would be the right time to repeat the descent. I will come here in a few days, I thought, but I could not before a couple of weeks ... and it was already late, the stream has turned dry again, though not entirely: from the balustrade of hermitage I could hear the sound of water coming from some springs downstream.
I wanted to descend the San Michele in best conditions, so that day I preferred to go for a walk in search of gorges.

Summer came, then autumn and rains. But to bring flow to Fosso San Michele, the rain must first fill the aquifers emptied by summer drought. The right conditions came in late november, but my commitments (including canyoning ones) kept me far from Fosso San Michele long enough to let autumn rains end, and winter drought arrive. I consoled myself by exploring two other streams in the area (Sereotta and Bulgarett), but then ... the COVID-19 lockdown came, and a beautiful spring that none of us nature lovers could enjoy, imprisoned at home by the stupid rules with which the government thought to counteract the epidemic. Months spent eating our hearts out, surrounded by an atmosphere of fear and anguish. When at last we were free to go canyoning again, the San Michele has got dry ... ... but I didn't want to wait anymore, no, so I went there anyway with some friends, ready to open the way through the brambles ...
And unexpectedly there were no brambles, no thorn barriers! The bed was almost completely free from vegetation, so I could not understand why or where we had stopped years ago ...
At last we found the great thorn barriers, and they were impassable as I remembered, but ... that was the end of canyon, so I finally realized that the whole interesting part was clean and free from brambles.

Oh yes, in Turano valley the dense and thorny vegetation can put a strain on canyoneer and confuse him to the point of not making him understand where he is and what he has seen.

In autumn, when rains returned, I could finally descend the San Michele in good water conditions, as you see in the photos and video.

Photos and video by Michele Angileri and Giuseppe Martino

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