My feet are itching. Itching for spring. For getting out there and breath in that electric spring air that’s buzzing with change to come. Our walk up Valle delle Cartiere may have just made it a little worse, the ichting.
The hike was a super easy, almost level tour that follows the Toscolano creek upstream as it winds its way through rocky boulders. You could probably continue a lot further and up Monte Castello di Gaino, but we felt like building our stamina for the season a little slower and still take it easy – very easy.
Toscolano is one of the larger towns on the western shore of Lago di Garda. Other than in Gargnano, in Toscolano the mountains start receding and the valleys lead farther and farther into the hills. According to the two dozen Lake Garda hiking books that we have, Valle delle Cartiere – the paper mill valley – is a classic. With a powerful creek tumbling down from the mountains and enough space for a few buildings nestled alongside the valley has a centuries old tradition of milling. Today there’s only the museum and many ruins left after the last mill was abandoned mid last century. The production peaked in the last 1800s and the valley was lined with production facilities. When mill after mill closed none of the buildings got torn down but rather left for nature to take its course. Now, many of them are so overgrown that they look more like a piece of jungle and only reveal their true nature if you look closer.
While most of the walk is accessible by car, past the museum it’s only open to the handful of residents – and the road gives of a sufficiently path like vibe. Still, once you cross the river over a bridge that (literally) reads “max. load: 120kg” and the path turns into a small trail, the amount of people we met reduced drastically. It seemed like most had spread their picnic blankets earlier along the way. One visitor though that we didn’t think to expect there was this long fellow: an aspis viper.
We’re not sure how far the path truely leads up the valley. After about a kilometer after the bridge we hit a tunnel that lead to a lookout nestled above a turquoise pool but was a dead end. And the walkway above the tunnel entrance was locked.