Via Ferratas In The Italian Dolomites

Strada Degli Alpini (Alpinisteig) – An Amazing Via Ferrata In The Tre Cime Nature Park

Written by

After spending a significant amount of time in the heart of the famous Tre Cime Nature Park in the Italian Dolomites I felt compelled to explore its other corners, especially the eastern one. 

Home to the distinct peak Croda Dei Toni (Zwölferkofel) and a few famous via ferrata routes, there is one that grabbed my attention in particular, after seeing photos of it online – Strada Degli Alpini. 

7 things to know about Via Ferrata Strada Degli Alpini (Alpinisteig)

Via Ferrata Strada Degli Alpini Alpinisteig 4

Via Ferrata Strada Degli Alpini (in German: Alpinisteig) is an incredible traverse underneath the western slopes of Cima Undici. The route is characterized by a long approach, a technically straightforward via ferrata (albeit with lots of cable time), and jaw-dropping vistas of Croda Dei Toni accompanying you most of the way. 

Via ferrata Strada Degli Alpini is one of my favorite beginner-level via ferratas in the Dolomites and I’d recommend it to anyone who is a sucker for beautiful mountain views.

1. The stats for Via Ferrata Strada Degli Alpini (Alpinisteig)

  • Distance: 16 km / 10 mi
  • Time required: 7-9 h
  • Elevation gain: 1134 m / 3722 ft
  • Elevation loss: 1600 m / 5254 ft
  • Via ferrata difficulty: beginner
  • When to go: July to October
  • Map required: Tabacco Map no 10 (Dolomiti Di Sesto)

2. Via Ferrata Strada Degli Alpini – the map

Click on the icon in the top left corner of the map to view the details of the route. I marked bus stops, parking, and huts. This map is for visualization purposes only.

For a detailed route I highly recommend purchasing the Tabacco Map no 10 (Dolomiti Di Sesto). A map or a GPS is something you should always have with you when heading out into the mountains. 

3. Getting to the trailhead of Via Ferrata Strada Degli Alpini

Via Ferrata Strada Degli Alpini 1 2
The signs at the top of the Croda Rossa Gondola pointing to Strada Degli Alpini

Initially, this article described the route going counterclockwise, but after completing Alpinisteig twice I concluded that going clockwise makes more sense. By going clockwise you will gain less elevation so it will be slightly easier. Most importantly though you will have the views in front of you.

The route starts at the top of the Croda Rossa Gondola station near the town of Sesto. The bottom of the station is located in the scenic Fiscalina Valley.

By car (watch out for seasonal restrictions)

To limit the vehicle traffic in Val Fiscalina, the authorities introduced seasonal road restrictions. During certain dates in the summer season, it’s only possible to travel to Val Fiscalina by bus. You can check the exact dates when the traffic is restricted here.

By bus

The bus stop name for the gondola is called Moso (Sesto) Cabinovia Croda Rossa. Lines 440 and 446 operate along this route. You can check the schedule and the bus stop nearest to your hotel on the Sued Tirol Mobil website.

Since the route ends in a different location from where it starts, you will also need to catch the bus back to Sesto from the Pian Di Val Fiscalina bus stop.

TIP: Keep up a good pace if you are doing the Alpinisteig in a day and don’t want to miss the last bus.

Croda Rossa Gondola

During the summer season of 2024, Croda Rossa Gondola operates from the end of May until the start of November. It runs daily from 8:30 AM until 5:30 PM. You will only need to buy a one-way ticket.

4. Where to stay in Sesto

Sesto (also known as Sexten in German) is a small town in the province of South Tyrol and close to the Puster Valley. It’s a great place for a base to explore some of the hikes and via ferrata routes in Tre Cime Nature Park.

5. Turning Via Ferrata Strada Degli Alpini into an overnight adventure

Rifugio Pian Di Cengia (Büllelejochhütte) - one of the huts where you can stay when tackling Alpinisteig
Rifugio Pian Di Cengia (Büllelejochhütte) – one of the huts where you can stay when tackling Alpinisteig

Since it’s quite a long route there is a possibility to break it up with an overnight stay in either of these three alpine huts: Rifugio Comici (Zsigmondyhütte), Rifugio Pian di Cengia (Büllelejochhütte) or Rifugio Carducci.

The first one – Rifugio Comici lies directly en route. The other two require a small detour, approximately + 1 hour. I marked all three huts on the map.

TIP: I also designed two hut-to-hut traverses that include via ferrata Strada Degli Alpini:

6. Via Ferrata Strada Degli Alpini: Stages breakdown

The entire route is marked with white and red paint marks or red arrows painted on rocks. Nevertheless do pack the Tabacco map no 10. with you and study it before heading out.

Stage 1: Croda Rossa Gondola to Forcella Undici

  • Time required: 2.5 – 3 hours

Starting at the top of the gondola station, at first, you will follow a wide gravel path across the high alpine pasture. Monte Croda Rossa (Rotwandspitze) raises straight ahead.

After circa. 20 minutes the path veers right and starts climbing up into the thick larch forest. Keep following path no. 100 . Around 40 minutes from leaving the gondola station you will reach a fork with signs pointing to Forcella Undici and Strada Degli Alpini.

Soon after the path will start climbing first gently then zigzag until you reach the first cables. It’s time to put your gear on. For the rest of stage 1, you will be scrambling up a steep wall using the cables until you reach the Undici saddle.

This part of the route is arguably the toughest as it’s where the majority of the elevation is gained.

Stage 2: Forcella Undici to Rifugio Zsigmondy Comici

  • Time required: 2.5 – 3 hours

From Forcella Undici continue climbing up until once again you reach a fork with signs pointing to Alpinisteig. The views in your direction of travel (south) grow in grandeur and the twelve jagged peaks of Croda Dei Toni (Zwölferkofel) become ever closer.

The majority of this stage is just a hike with cables placed in the most exposed sections. The trail passes under impressive overhangs before a short protected snowfield traverse (see photo above) brings you to narrow ledges.

To the east, you will be able to see the Zsigmondy hut. This is the most fun and impressive part of the route. Even though you won’t be climbing, only walking along the ledges, the exposure is significant so make sure to make good use of those cables.

My favorite part along this stage of the route was crossing the crack in the wall which required dunking for a bit. Watch your head! Once you cross the ledges you can put away your gear.

TIP: I did this route once at the start of July and once at the end of September. In September there was no more snowfield to cross.

The last section of stage two goes uphill to a small alpine lake (Lago Ghiacciao). The route then continues downhill on a scree-slope directly underneath Croda Dei Toni. You will be able to see the Zsigmondy hut from afar.

Stage 3: Rifugio Zsigmondy Comici to Hotel Dolomitenhof

  • Time required: 2-2.5 hours

From Zsigmondy hut, it’s a 2-hour downhill hike to the Fiscalina Valley. The route finishes as a flat jaunt on path no 102 alongside picturesque fields. Make sure to look back and admire the view. The last alpine hut you will come across is Rifugio Fondovalle (Talschlusshütte), where you can have a celebratory beer.

TIP: It’s also possible to follow the route in reverse to what was described in my article, starting the approach from the Pian Di Val Fiscalina bus stop near Hotel Dolomitenhof and finishing at the top of the Croda Rossa Gondola.

Shop my via ferrata gear essentials

Black Diamond Helmet

Rockfall is a significant concern on via ferrata routes. Unbeknownst to you, other climbing groups above you may accidentally dislodge a small rock and send it down the mountain. If it hits you on the head, it could have serious consequences. A helmet on your head (not inside your backpack) is necessary.

Shop on: Amazon (Worldwide) / Backcountry (US)

71gKk4U+f2S. AC SL1500

Black Diamond Momentum Harness

Another must-have on a via ferrata route is a climbing harness. A harness works as an anchor point for your via ferrata lanyard. Try it before your trip to ensure it fits snugly without limiting your movements. Aim for a lightweight harness that will be comfortable to wear between the cable-protected sections when hiking.

edelrid basis cable kit special via ferrata set

Edelrid, Camp or Black Diamond Via Ferrata Lanyard

A via ferrata lanyard connects the climber and their harness to the cables along the route. Its two arms and a hidden extra coil work as an energy absorption system in case of a fall. The two carabiners at the end of the lanyard clip into the cable. Make sure the carabiners are equipped with the palm squeeze mechanism. It’s the safest and most comfortable.

Shop on Amazon (Worldwide) / Backcountry (US)

91P0f6XnFML. AC SL1500

Black Diamond Crag Gloves

The gloves protect your hands from cuts and scratches you may otherwise get if you haul yourself on the cable without them. I prefer full-finger gloves for extra protection against blisters. If your hands sweat quickly, go for the fingerless version.

Shop on: Amazon (Worldwide) / Backcountry (US)

salewa womens wildfire edge approach shoes detail 6

Salewa Wildfire Edge Approach Shoes

This is my go-to pair of hiking shoes for more accessible trails or via ferrata, where I don’t need extra ankle support. They provide excellent grip on the rock and are very durable.

Shop on: Amazon (Worldwide) / Backcountry (US)


Reeloq Smartphone Securing System

If you want to take great photos on a via ferrata without worrying about losing your phone, Reeloq is the best tool for it. It’s a smartphone-securing system that allows you to use your phone on any adventure. This has been a great addition to my tool arsenal.

Shop on: REELOQ

TIP: You can also rent via ferrata gear in sports shops in town. Look for places on Google Maps called Noleggio.

Other hikes and via ferratas near Sesto

Support my website!

Hi Reader! If you found any of my articles about the Dolomites useful please consider using the affiliate links below (at no extra cost) when booking your holiday. Thank you

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below!

Leave a Comment