The landscapes, which can be both gentle and rugged, the sense of wilderness that can be found in some areas just a few steps outside of civilization and the enormous amount of virgin rock that still awaits to be developed. Among all the terrific climbing spots, a winter escape to the crags on the Amalfi Coast, Apulia, and Calabria can give you all of that! If you are looking for a place where you can both visit a beautiful ancient town and then climb in a crag few steps away feeling like an adventurer discovering a new hidden paradise, Southern Italy is the place that you want to travel to.
Within 2 hours drive from the world capital of pizza, Naples, you find a huge variety of climbing. If you drive north to Sperlonga, 18 km of vertical coastline have 600+ single- and multi-pitches.
From the 100 routes on the huge limestone cliff Paretone del Chiromante, where you find also a lot of easy ones, to the overhanging Grotta dell’Arenauta, with lines up to 9a overlooking a beautiful beach. The countryside crags of Moneta and Pueblo also offer 250+ lines. The downside: these crags get crowded, so avoid them on sunny winter days; drive south of Naples, instead, and discover the Amalfi Coast.
The Amalfi Coast, and its crown-jewel Positano, never fails to seduce. The vertical towns, the crystal-clear water, the huge cliffs right on the sea, and the mind-blowing food.
The best part? All those cliffs are crags, still uncrowded. 200+ routes from 5a to 8c, perfect for winter months. Sleep at the organic farm La Selva above Positano, run by Cristiano, one of the local climbers and bolters. Here, routes start from 6a and demand endurance and good technique on tufas.
For easier climbs, Capo d’Orso crag is worth a visit - and a picture! Another gem is Punta Campanella, overlooking Capri island. To get away from the parking nightmare of the Amalfi Coast, drive to Palinuro: you climb right on the beach, Thailand-style! The 50 routes (5a to 8c) on solid limestone were bolted largely by the local Alpine Guide Oreste.
For the warm months, when Amalfi Coast gets too hot and flooded with tourists, drive 2 hours north-east of Naples and discover Molise. This region is famous for one thing among Italians: it doesn’t exist. At least this is the popular joke since it’s such a small and quiet region! A visitor finds here a timeless beauty, made of soft hills and scattered villages. A climber finds a true playground.
Around Frosolone, at 1200m altitude, there are 60 big blocks of very compact limestone scattered on a grassy plateau, with more than 600 sport routes from easy grades to 8c+/9a. We recommend the sectors Morgia Quadra and Gemelli and to contact the local climber Pietro Radassao: he is a 9a-climber, La Sportiva athlete, one of the developers of the area, and runs a climbing gym.
If you are a boulderer, explore another curious little region of Italy: Basilicata. Next to Campomaggiore is Pietra del Toro. A paradise with 450+ blocs of compact sandstone from 3C to 8B+, up to 7m tall and with good landing. Despite being immersed in a forest, avoid it in summer. Once your skin needs healing, wander and get lost in Matera, a spectacular village where you sleep, eat, drink aperitivo, and even view art in caves, the unique ‘Sassi’.
Drive now to the tip of Italy-boot, Calabria. Your jaw will drop in front of the overhanging wall of Stilo. It looks like a painter had 3 buckets, orange, gray and black, and just threw them on this tufa-infused limestone cliff. Routes are long and athletic. There are 100+ lines from 4a to 9a, most of them with shiny new bolts thanks to the expedition of Ragni di Lecco. A trip here is a perfect winter escape, warmly authentic and good for the local economy. And the food is awesome and cheap - try the spicy ‘nduja!
Let’s end on the heel of the boot: Apulia. Statte, close to Taranto has 230+ routes (4c to 8b) on superb limestone in a wild, lush canyon. And at the bottom of the heel-boot, is Salento. A hot, dry region, retaining a flavour of its Greek past, with endless olive trees and stunning sea. For a perfect picture and if you have a solid 7a, climb at Mannute, a cave that opens up on the sea, with huge stalactites. On its right is a more conceding sector, Anga della Mannuta, a 35m cliff on the water. In the Ciolo Canyon, a fiord of rare beauty, are 40+ routes (from easy 4th). Last but not least, the cilindric open cave of Prazziche, for a 3D climbing experience.
Apparently, that's all. Now you have a comprehensive view about what Southern Italy has to offer in terms of climbing, culture, adventure. If this is not enough, you can find several local climbing guides which can help you to find the perfect area where to spend you next climbing holiday.
Still hungry? Cool, that's awesome. Very recently, I answered a few questions during a deep interview with some of the guys from Mapo Tapo. They just published it on this Magazine, here's the link. It is something a little bit more personal: we'll talk about tourism related to climbing practice, new crags here in the South and what does it mean to commit themselves for the local climbing community.
Feel free to get in touch. I'll be happy to give you a few hints about these places.
Words and photos by Francesco Guerra
Special thanks to Francesco Guerra and Pietro Radassao.
You can have a look at La Selva above Positano on the official website
Pietro thanks La Sportiva for its long-time support. You can keep updated about Pietro's most recent ascents via his Instagram
Interested in a trip to Hawaii? We chatted to Matt Lutey, co-founder of Bouldering Hawaii, to find out more about the huge variety of climbing available there.
Rock climbing in Czech Republic is shrouded in an aura of mystery: huge sandstone towers rising out of a lush forest, no chalk, no metal gear, scary runouts... But what should you really expect? Is it worth climbing here instead of the more popular summer destinations?
On the day that this article is published, sport climbing will be making its Olympic debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
The largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife is known for it’s year-round sun, over 400km of coastline, quaint historic port towns, resorts and—of course—excellent food.
Bulgaria may not be the first European rock climbing destination to spring to mind. Yet here you’ll find everything that characterizes the more popular Western European destinations – limestone, quality routes, excellent food, phenomenal landscapes – without any of the polish or overcrowded crags.
When planning a rock-climbing trip in the USA, most people will head to the world famous climbing areas: Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Moab, Bishop. But if you’re looking to travel somewhere where outdoor tourism can have a positive impact on the local community, then Central Appalachia should be top of your list.
Senegal is one of the most forward-thinking and stable countries in West Africa.
Sometimes it can be hard to get to the bottom of what makes an area special, especially when talking about the more well-known climbing destinations.
Although I was expecting Jamaica to have suitable rock formations for climbing I knew developing them would not be easy.
From laid-back sea cliff climbing to unforgiving boulders and classic trad routes, there’s something here for everyone.
This mountain range extends 1,350km from Liguria in the north-west to Sicily in the south, with peaks never reaching the 3000m-mark.
As a reddish light flickers and dances with the curves of a cavernous wall rising steeply beside you.
The West Bank of Palestine, with its bucolic rolling hills, vast deserts, and deep valleys...
Sicily is known for the beautiful sea, the laid-back vibe, and food. Climbing here means golden tufas on vertical or overhanging walls overlooking the sea.
When most people think of climbing in Thailand, they picture vertical limestone walls over a white beach and turquoise sea, with a lush jungle on the horizon.