This is part of a three-part series. See here for details.

After the organized tour had ended, I took a train from Merano to Rovereto, close to Lake Garda. I stayed in the city for two nights to get some rest before the next hike as well as to stock up on provisions and plan the next few days. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many bus options to get into the mountains from Rovereto. In the end, I had to settle for the only available option with a direct connection: the Passo Pian Delle Fugazze.

Day 1: Passo Pian Delle Fugazze (1164 m) – Rifugio Campogrosso (1457 m)

After a quick breakfast and a one hour bus ride into the mountains, I arrived at the pass at around half past eight. Right when I stepped out of the bus, it started raining heavily. While I was still putting on my rain gear under a nearby roof, the rain turned into a full-grown thunderstorm. I took my time until the rain had ceased a little and finally started hiking.

Thankfully, the path led through a forest first, so I was at least a little protected from the rain. When I stepped out of the woods, I had arrived at the Sellata Nord Ovest and suddenly the sun was shining. The usual option from this point would be to take the path down straight to Rifugio Campogrosso. But as I hadn’t hiked here from the “planned” starting point, the Rifugio Lancia, I decided to include the optional detour as well.

This option took me to the Monte Cornetto (1899 m ASL) first, which is a peak quite close-by. From there I entered the Sentiero di arrocamente – a path that was created during the First World War and alternates between narrow trails and low-ceilinged tunnels. It also includes various points where you have to climb over to the next part of the trail – and your only security is a rusty chain on the wall. I really enjoyed this challenging hike though.

Day 2: Rifugio Campogrosso – Giazza (793 m)

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Steep ascent to the Boccheta dei Fondi.

In my first Italian rifugio, I learned that everything starts a little later in Italy. While we had usually started hiking around 7 in the Alps, I never got to leave earlier that 8 in Italy – if I didn’t want to skip breakfast. But as I was hiking at my own pace anyway and did much shorter breaks during the day, I arrived early in any case.

From the Rifugio Campogrosso I hiked up to the Boccheta dei Fondi. Again, the trail was quite difficult and involved lots of climbing. Only meters before the peak, I got into a heavy thunderstorm. I had just met a fellow hiker from Germany, so we both crouched under a bush and waited for the worst part to be over. Hailstones with the diameter of a fingernail were falling on us and the lightnings were extremely close. All of a sudden, it all stopped and there was blue sky above us. The ground was still white with hail, though.

On the descent to Rifugio Scalorbi, the fog came back – but at least there wasn’t any more rain that week. The rest of the way was rather uneventful in comparison. After hiking through a beautiful, lush green valley, the path wound through a forest, until it finally met the road. I hiked the last few kilometers to Giazza mostly on that narrow, paved mountain road.

Day 3: Giazza – Erbezzo (1118 m)

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Cow drinking at a watering hole at the I Parpari plateau.

From the beautiful village of Giazza, I hiked up to the plateau of I Parpari. After a long ascent in a shady forest, I was amazed to suddenly emerge at a wide, open pasture. It was beautiful to see all the cows grazing there – in a landscape that seemed strangely out of place here.

Next I hiked down into the Vajo de Squaranto valley, where the path was heavily overgrown with weeds. I emerged and passed some deserted villages, that are only inhabited by a few cows nowadays. Finally, I came into the Vajo dell’Anguilla. Another valley, another heavily overgrown path and an exhausting and steep trail to get out of the valley again.

I reached the village of Erbezzo shortly afterwards – and it almost felt like I was finally getting close to the “normal world” again. There were actually other people than just hikers at the hotel’s restaurant and I was extremely happy about my Pizza Quattro Formaggi and my espresso afterwards.

Day 4: Erbezzo – Avesa (97 m)

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I made it to the end of the E5!!

To be completely honest, I had very mixed feelings about my last day of hiking. Sad, that this would be the end of the trip already – but happy to finally get back to civilization and internet and warm showers. This day’s trail was perfectly mirroring these mixed feelings: Large parts of the way, I had to hike on paved roads, most of them narrow mountain roads with little space to escape passing cars.

But there were also amazing parts during the day, first of all the Vajo del Falconi and the beautiful Ponte di Veja – a large, natural stone bridge, which was once part of a massive cave. Another highlight was the Borago Gorge. It was quite difficult to hike through, with steep metal ladders, a riverbed full of slippery stones, and several fallen trees to climb over. Still, the scenery was breathtaking. With the jungle-like vegetation, I half expected a dinosaur to emerge from behind the next bush.

Finally, I entered a lush valley with all kinds of plantations: wine, figs, olives, tomatoes, apricots and pears. A few meters further on, I finally stood before the sign: It marks the end of the E5 long-distance hiking trail and it was an awesome feeling suddenly standing in front of it after so many days of walking.

Verona

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Waiting in line for the opera at Piazza Bra.

A short bus ride brought me from Avesa to the city center of Verona. I really didn’t feel like walking along busy streets just to be able to say I actually walked into Verona. Once there, I checked into my hotel, showered and found a really nice place to eat just around the corner, where I had a great risotto with gorgonzola cheese and walnuts.

The next morning, I got up at my usual time for hiking, so was able to finish a first quick walk around the city center before the tourist masses showed up. Soon it became extremely crowded, so I retreated to a bench in the shadow and read for some time. After lunch and some amazing gelato, more walking around and a quick nap at the hotel, evening had arrived already.

I treated myself to an early dinner close to the Piazza Bra with a glass of Pinot Grigio. Then it was time to head to the opera. In Verona, the opera takes place in a historic amphitheater directly at the city’s main square. I had bought tickets for Carmen and had been looking forward to this night for quite some time.

By arriving early, I managed to secure a great seat. While waiting for the show to begin, I still had plenty of time to watch the sun set and write a few lines in my notebook. The opera then was amazing and the atmosphere in the arena was breathtaking. A perfect finish to a very nice trip.