EXCURSION to the Ferraina Forest
Municipalities: Roccaforte del Greco, Roghudi, Samo (although the closest village is Gambarie)
Elevation difference: 494 metres, Materazzelli (1,825 metres above sea level) –the Aposcipo Torrent (1,331 metres above sea level)
Time: 6/7 hours
Water: a number of drinking fountains on the downhill, none on the uphill stretch.
Signposting: red and white on the section from Pollìa in the direction of Materazzelli (part of the Bova- Delianuova route, n.102 in the Aspromonte Park’s pathway registry). Near Serro Priolo you will find some red and white signposts: these indicate the Park’s n.104 pathway, from Samo to Montalto, which borders on our itinerary.
Ordinance Survey Map: F° 602 I Gambarie
The proposed hike is circular and takes you through some woodland tracks providing ample views of the Aspromonte area’s most unspoilt valleys. It brings you to the old Taglio di Pollia wood, one of the five being studied by the Park’s experts. It also provides you with the opportunity to observe variations, due to altitude, in the vegetation: beech, fir, pine and oak. In the 1950’s, a number of forestry contractors built bases at Canovai; which explains why some Ordinance Survey map still refer to the place as the Villaggio [Village]. It is possible to observe eagles here.
Arriving by car
You reach Materazzelli from Melito Porto Salvo by driving up the SS for about 45 kilometres in the direction of Gambarie. Just before reaching Gambarie, turn right for Montalto. At the following fork (4 kilometres on) continue left for roughly another 10 kilometres until you meet an abandoned farmhouse on the right in a small clearing. Park here.
Take the dirt track east of the clearing, and pass through the barrier. A little farther on, the tarmacked route begins. At about 2 kilometres from your departure point, you will come across a dirt track to the left which soon brings you to the Pagliai shelter. The track will take you through woodland populated by dense beeches and some very old silver firs and then to the main trail crossed by several streams (actually passing through the Ferraina Torrent’s catchment basin). Some gaps between the trees allow you catch sight of large expanses of forest and of Montalto. Across the fence bordering the trail, you will be able to admire the age-old durmast oaks of Taglio di Pollia. After about 6 kilometres you will reach the Zomina pass (this place name does not appear on the Ordinance Survey map) which you will recognise thanks to a triple fork (the left turning leads, after a few kilometres, to a vantage point overlooking the Valle Infernale, lit. Hellish Valley). Take the middle of the three turnings (the right-hand one is a shortcut) and after 1 kilometre you will meet the Ferraina Torrent with a dense riparian belt of alders. Cross the stream and after another kilometre, having walked down a lovely avenue of poplars, you will arrive at the Canovai shelter.
Close to the gateway of the chalet, two dirt tracks branch out: the upper one takes you to Materazzelli and is 8 kilometres long (also mostly tarmacked) while the lower pathway follows a stretch of the Ferraina Torrent’s right bank. Take this pathway as far as the first fork, then, turn right. After a short walk you will come to the Aposcipo Torrent, with pools of pure, crystal water and a barrier bounding the reservation. Having forded the stream, follow the trail which now begins to climb through a series of narrow bends surrounded by larches, until you reach the Pollia locality where your pathway crosses another trail. Continue right uphill. Ignore all the right-hand turnings-off which simply lead back to the Aposcipo. After about 6 kilometres from Pollia, join the tarmacked road again. Turn right here, and after less than 1 kilometre you will be back in Materazzelli.
Source: Guida Naturalistica della Calabria Greca– Alfonso Picone – Rubbettino Editore – Collana Parco Culturale della Calabria Greca.