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canyon exploring with Michele Angileri

Valli Cupe

The eastern side of Sila Massif features harsh young hills made of tender sandstone and conglomerate. These rocks are so tender to be easily carved by the streams, but they are compact enough to make walls more than 100 meters tall. So the landscape here is tormented, and the roads go winding for many kilometers even for joining the nearest villages, avoiding walls and ravines. Moreover roads often fall down with landslides.

In the tender rocks of these hills streams dug nice narrow canyons. The most famous among them is the Valli Cupe, situated in the countryside of Sersale. Its notoriety is the result of a skillful work of tourism promotion operated by the Commune of Sersale within the overall promotion of the gorges and waterfalls of its territory.
The most interesting part of Valli Cupe consists in a majestic narrow dark corridor that doesn't require any technical skills to be visited.

Name Valli Cupe
Area Calabria (Sila)
Nearest village Sersale
Entrance altitude (above sea level) 290 m
Exit altitude (above sea level)
Longest rappel 0 m
Rock Limestone
Shuttle No
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I remember ...

I have a goddamn vice: I always think to know about places, valleys and paths more and better than the people who was born and live in those places.
The vice comes from the fact I'm almost always right: it's me knowing the right path, and the canyon is exactly where I supposed to be despite what local people could think. However, "almost always" it's not exactly "always" nor "necessarily"...

That time I was sure I knew the most convenient access to Valli Cupe, and it was different from the tourist path, the one used by the guides and their clients. I was sure because I had seen it on Google Maps satellite image: it showed an unpaved road going up along the Valli Cupe valley, ending very very near to canyon's entrance. I thought that road was not used by Sersale's guides because it started much farther than the other one, and because the road surely wasn't suitable to 2WD vehicles.

We were accompanied by Ivona, who works as a tourist guide to Valli Cupe and the other cascades in the Sersale area. Ivona comes from the plains of Poland, but she lives in Sersale since a few years, in such a village on eastern border of Sila massif, surrounded by ravines and joined to the other villages by kilometers of winding roads that sometimes fall down with landslides ... and she loves it! She loves working as a tourist guide because she loves the hills of Sersale, the ravines, cascades, natural pools, rocks, forests, flowers, the climate and the very fine view over the sea and the villages perched on sandstone hills.
Ivona was really happy coming to show us the Valli Cupe canyon, but a few minutes before I had spoken of the countryroad ending at the canyon, and Ivona didn't knew it: she had never been in the lower Valli Cupe valley. You know, what pushes us on is curiosity, so Antonio said: let's go and see. Ivona had some doubts about it: Uhm ... we had a lot of rain: are you sure the road is still there? however, let's go and see! I never had been there and I'm curious

Curiosity, will to discover, to see the landscape flowing on car windows while it's pulling away every thoughts but the game of looking at Nature. Away the worries, stress, monotony, the usual ... around the beauty and a bit of inevitable adventure.
My 4WD car takes us down to the valley on a bad unpaved road, till it gets a "provincial road". But here, only here, in this corner of Calabria, a road like this can be called a "provincial", so tight to be in fact an alternating one-way. And it's getting tighter because the bush growing on its borders, and there are big holes in the asphalt.
We get to the bridge over the fiumara: is it still passable? surprise: it is, however we have to pass below it and go up the valley.

But our trip is going to end: a recent flood has destroyed the unpaved road. We can't go on by car, and Valli Cupe canyon is 5 kilometers away. We try once, twice, by wading by car the dry bed of the stream (it doesn't make Angela really happy, being bounced up and down and right and left ...), but there's no way but going on foot.
Ivona's doubt was right: here, in Calabria, unpaved roads don't last a long, and at present the best path to Valli Cupe is the one used by tourist guides.

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.

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