Saturday, April 26, 2014

Top 10 wild swimming locations in Italy

by fejisa loren  |  in maggiano's little italy restaurants at  5:20 AM

1 Torrente Fer, Piedmont

Torrente Fer, near the forest of Cignas, is a beautiful place. It is easy to see why Camillo Benso, the Count of Cavour, was devoted to this area: natural pools running between large, smooth rocks, where emerald waters flow from one waterfall to another. It is also a great place to go canyoning. A picnic area is not far from the first set of pools, but it does get crowded here on summer days. Walk for a few minutes to reach the upper pools where it is secluded and quiet. The large boulders that surround the pools allow you to dive or lie in the sun. A truly spectacular place.

2 Spiaggia Giamaica, Lombardy

In this region of great lakes, the Dolomites, and stunning green valleys, the landscape is perfect for trekking, having fun in the sun, or a dip in the water. In front of the Villa di Catullo is Spiaggia Giamaica: a large slab of rock creating a beautiful, smooth, white-rock beach surrounded by crystal-clear waters. Behind it is the famous villa Grotte di Catullo. If the lake level is low enough you can walk around to Lido delle Bionde: a beach with a pier, a bar and a lawn shaded by olive trees.

3 Riva del Garda, Italian Lakes

Riva del Garda.
Photograph: Michele Tameni
This relaxing area of meadows and an immaculate beach is equipped for all sorts of activities. It makes a pleasant break after a visit to the village and the view of the lake is simply magnificent. From Limone head north on the SS45 for 10km and park on the road shortly after the entrance to the village. Explore the streets of this pretty town and visit its Museo Civico. Walk east for 15 minutes along the shore until you cross a bridge over a canal and there you will find the beach.

4 Pozze Smeraldine, Dolomites

In the Dolomiti Friulane natural park, down in the Cellina valley on the way to the village of Barci are many wild, unspoilt pools and gorges. The gem in this valley is higher in the mountains, though. The Pozze Smeraldine are a short walk from the village of Tramonti di Sopra on a mountain path. The colour of the natural pools justifies their name: Emerald Pools. They are in an isolated and enchanted area.

5 Candalla, Tuscany

In between the Alps and the Apennines, in northern Tuscany, in the historic regions of Lunigiana and Garfagnana, the jewel is Candalla. Here, among ruins and fig-scented woodlands, the Lombricese stream runs over waterfalls and between natural pools. A trail starts from the old mill of Candalla, and follows the stream on a tempting route through an enchanted valley with many places to stop, dive (from the top of the waterfall or into the pool below the mill) and relax in the shade of the beautiful woods. There is also a great place that serves food on terraces and balconies overlooking the river. A great place to eat is Osteria Candalla.

6 Bidente di Pietrapazza, Emilia Romagna

Bidente di Pietrapazza 
From the village of Santa Sofia you can begin to appreciate the beauty of the Monte Falterona national park. The Pietrapazza river is a tributary of the Bidente, near Poggio alla Lastra, where over the years the river has carved out large slabs of rock, creating eddies and waterfalls. You’ll find natural pools, with boulders and slabs of rock for sunbathing and diving; upstream from the bridge, small waterfalls descend between boulders into lovely pools.

7 Mercatello sul Metauro, Abruzzo

The Marche region is full of surprises. The Cascata del Sasso, on the Metauro river is one of the 10 largest waterfalls in Italy and is a favourite spot for fishermen, too. Just 10 minutes upstream to the west, on the edge of the medieval village of Mercatello sul Metauro, a stunning river bends under a high cliff; here you will find small waterfalls and two pools, among flaked rocks that seem to fall apart in the sun. It’s perfect for picnics, as large trees and small clefts in the rock provide shade. Nearby there is a pleasant park with tables and a barbecue.

8 Terme del Bullicame, Lazio

Terme del Bullicame. 
If you prefer to escape the tourists, and the hustle and bustle of the city, do as the Romans do and retreat to the green hills and volcanic lakes of Lazio or visit charming Umbria, with hot springs and majestic waterfalls. Just outside the ancient city of Viterbo in northern Lazio are the Terme del Bullicame, mentioned by Dante in The Divine Comedy. These are free thermal baths and the water comes from a small crater now protected by a fence. The water temperature is about 58C and it flows through a series of small channels to feed into a pair of turquoise pools (the smallest pool has this high temperature; the larger pool is much cooler). There are no facilities, so remember to bring drinking water, and perhaps a sun umbrella and suncream, as the few fig trees around the pools don’t create much shade.

9 Cascata Capelli di Venere, Campania

In this wild green area, just a short distance from the spectacular Amalfi coast, you’ll find breathtaking rocky canyons with freshwater pools, streams and sparkling waterfalls. Head east from Morigerati towards the town of Casaletto Spartano, to see the Cascata Capelli di Venere, a waterfall named the “Hair of Venus”, made up of delicate cascades. This is a truly spectacular spot to swim, so plunge in and cool down under the fast-flowing rivulets of the small waterfall, which flows over a cave covered with moss. From the car park another path goes further downstream, leading to a bend with other beautiful pools to explore. There are quiet places where you can pitch a tent. If you walk up the slope of the hill above the pool, you will find a picnic area.

10 Rio Pitrisconi, Sardinia

Thanks to its geology Sardinia offers plenty of watery gems, from volcanic plunge pools, lava-heated springs and gorges, to valleys carved into limestone. Italy’s second-largest island is better known for its beaches but in the north-eastern hills, above San Teodoro, the Pitrisconi is a wild, narrow stream ravine with shiny granite pools. From its highest “infinity” pool you can swim right to the edge and peer over the huge waterfall below, with views of the sea beyond. The granite rocks glow in shades of yellow, pink and orange, with the scent of juniper and myrtle all around.


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