EXCURSION to the Amendolea Falls
Municipalities: Roccaforte del Greco, Roghudi (but Gambarie is the closest village)
Elevation difference: uphill 150 metres; downhill about 100 metres (outward leg only)
Altitude: Menta Stream (1,290 metres above sea level) – the Menta dam (1,400 metres above sea level)
Time: 50 minutes
Water: a few fountains along the route
Signposting: red and white n. 132 of the Park’s Pathway register
Ordinance Survey Maps: Folio 602 I Gambarie
The Amendolea (known as Maesano) Falls are among the most visited of the Park’s sights. The waterfall, with its three leaps into as many basins scooped out by the unremitting erosion of the rock by the water, is an imposing spectacle. The hike is short though some stretches, encumbered by landslide debris, require hikers to pay the utmost attention. The view of the lake created by the dam across the Menta River is striking. The work is not as yet complete, yet the body of water is becoming a part of the landscape. Maesano is the name given to the place in the 1980’s and that most frequently used locally, although it actually refers to a townland further south. Its official, generic name is Cascata dell’Amendolea [Amendolea River Falls]. Its true name is Schicciu (falls), from Spana, as claimed by many of the local shepherds and confirmed by a map dated 1874, housed at the State Archives in Reggio Calabria. The toponymic Spanu, according to the German glottologist Gerhard Rohlfs, comes from the Greek spanòs which, when referred to men signifies “beardless, shaven” but when applied to a place means “bare, devoid of vegetation”. The waterfall is situated, in actual fact, in an area where the dense forest yields to barren ridges.
Arriving by car
It is possible to reach the falls by car from Melito di Porto Salvo driving up the SS 183 for about 45 kilometres in the direction of Gambarie. Shortly after Gambarie, turn right for Montalto. After 4 kilometres take the right turn for the Menta dam [diga del Menta]. After a further 7 kilometres, the road ends at the building housing the dam’s control centre. Park here taking care not to impede the passage of other vehicles, and walk down the narrow roadway to the point where the Menta and Amendolea waters meet.
Take the pathway skirting the left-hand bank of the river and, then, close to a small spring, take the dirt track winding through beech, Corsican pine and silver fir woodland. Follow this pathway to the next fork, then, turn right. This trail leads down to the water’s edge.
Some overspill from the river here and there can make the path muddy; however this very stretch is the habitat of the yellow-bellied toad. Have no fear! This is the terrifying name given to a tiny toad (Bombina pachypus) whose yellow-coloured abdomen is used simply to scare predators. The pathway is now steep and uphill, until, emerging from the trees, it ends in a clearing above the Amendolea River Valley. The path now follows the zig-zag outline of the outcrop, runs left and crosses a stone-filled, sloping landslide. It then enters a pine reforestation area and passes a spring at which it is possible to catch a partial view of the falls. Paying attention to stretches of landslide bordered on by oaks, you reach the point where you get a total view of the falls. From here it is difficult to resist the temptation to dive into the pool at the foot of the falls. This final stretch is steep and not very well outlined. Furthermore, do not try to reach the upper pools as the rock is very slippery.
RAFTING requires suitable equipment and the appropriate technical knowhow.
Source: Guida Naturalistica della Calabria Greca– Alfonso Picone – Rubbettino Editore – Collana Parco Culturale della Calabria Greca.