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canyon exploring with Michele Angileri

Canale Franciardi

Fiumare feature the landscape in the eastern side of Calabria and Lucania. They are born because here mountains are made of grinded rock. Here streams can drag enormous quantities of detritus, enough to fill the valleys' bottom, which become deserts of stones where water finds its path like a thin snake.
A majestic landscape! at the valleys' bottom slowly flows a still river of stones, sometimes larger than 1 km.

The most beautiful fiumara in northern Calabria is made by torrente Saraceno. From the village of Alessandria del Carretto to sea Ionio it meanders at the bottom of a deep wild valley, far from human activities. No comfortable path reaches the fiumara, and the few existing hidden paths are going to be caceled by the bush.

Saraceno's tributaries flow into steep valleys surrounded by badlands, forest and impassable bush. They are easy canyoning trail, because flysch rock usually makes no cascades. IMHO the most worthing among them is Canale Franciardi. It meanders in a majestic wild environment and has a beautiful impressing cascade to be rappelled (30 m), the highest in Saraceno valley.

Name Canale Franciardi
Area Calabria, Pollino
Nearest village Albidona
Entrance altitude (above sea level) 600 m
Exit altitude (above sea level) 420 m
Length 1700 m
Longest rappel 30 m
Rock Flysch, marl
Rating3 (winter, spring)
Shuttle Possible with 2 SUVs, though not indispensable.
Explored by Michele Angileri; august 1998


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I remember ...

In Calabria a hot summer can be really HOT ... And the worst place to be is the fiumara (the typical large river bed of Calabria torrents) where it is dry ... It becomes a desert of hot stones able to cook you ...

Canale Franciardi is a tributary of Fiumara Saraceno. In summer it has very very few water, disappearing and re-appearing from under detritus. Too few water to make acceptable temperatures, but I didn't know it. Moreover I didn't know the path to return up to the car, I had to search for it with try and error method.
I begun descending at 11 AM. I had in mind to spend the hottest hours inside the canyon, to exit and come up in fresher hours, not before 4-5 PM. I believed I would be well in the canyon, because canyons are usually fresh places.
In one hour I was at the top of 30 m waterfall, going slowly, shooting photographs, keeping my head wet with stream's water. Some low pools let me cool. It wasn't hot, not yet. But rope wasn't enough to descend the waterfall, so I had to belay placing 2 bolts while hanged. And the waterfall was under the full sun of 1 PM ...
No more water beyond the waterfall, no flow, no pools. A beautiful place, but open, sunny and totally dry. In a few minutes I come where Franciardi opens wide becoming itself a Fiumara, half kilometer before the confluence with Saraceno. There was a path on the left which might be right to come back, but it was too soon. Better to remain under a tree, eating something and waiting a cooler moment to move up. But where is the cool? under the trees it was really hot, maybe because the stones of the fiumara made hot by hours of sun. Better to move up now, the woods above must be cooler than this.
So at 3 PM I begin moving up, slowly, very slowly. Forces abandon me 70 meters above the fiumara, suddenly. I don't swoon, but can't move. Put on head the few water I still have, lie down on my rope (which is wet) and wait. Termometer tells me there are 35 Celsius degrees in wood!! At 5 PM wind rises and temperature ... goes up!! 36.5 C !!
18,30 PM, the temperature is still that, but some forces have returned, enough to begin moving up again though without backpack and gear. Only pants and documents and keys ...

The morning after, at 5 AM, I was there again to recover backpack. Then 2 days of headache. After all I was lucky ...

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.