Alta Via n.1 - Day 5

4 h 30'
Rifugio Nuvolau
Rifugio Città di Fiume (o Rifugio Croda da Lago)

This stage is useful for those who prefer not to tackle the equipped route that goes down to the Passo Giàu, or for those who intend to visit the charming spot where the Rifugio Croda da Lago Palmieri is situated. This stage is straightforward and easy, but a bit longer than the one above, and it also does not contemplate the visit to the mesolithic site of Mondevàl (unless you go down from the Forcella Ambrizzòla purposely for that).

From the Rifugio Nuvolàu, go back northwards, on path 439, to the Forcella Nuvolàu, and take the little road (always along path n.439) north-east until you come to a crossroads. To the left you can soon reach the Rifugio Scoiattoli, 2255m (privately owned, basic hotel services, sleeps 42, open also in winter tel. 0436 867939), where the Rifugio Bàin de Dònes chairlift arrives at the SS48 Dolomiti road, convenient for anyone wanting to “give up”. Continue to the right and you will soon reach the Rifugio Cinque Torri, 2137m. The Rifugio Cinque Torri, just behind the small and majestic Dolomite towers, the pride of the Cortina basin, is privately owned; open from June to September, basic hotel services, sleeps 16, tel +39 0436 29 02).

From the Rifugio Cinque Torri, go down for a bit until you reach a crossroads. From here, follow to the right a little road (still marked 439), which soon turns northwards in the direction of the SS48 road. You should instead continue to the east on path n.437 which goes down to the Ponte (bridge) de Rucurto, 1708m, on the SS638 road from the Passo Giàu.

After crossing the road, you should immediately re-take the 437 eastwards and go up a wooded hillock and a rock terrace, then pass the torrent of the Val Formìn, north of the Croda da Lago group. Here you will meet the easy path-mule-track n.434. Take this path and go up, first following some steep hairpin bends and then almost on the flat, through the Val Negra, until you reach the lovely spot where the Rifugio Croda da Lago “Gianni Palmieri” is situated, 2046m, on the southern edge of the romantic Lago Fedéra or Lago da Lago.

The Rifugio Croda da Lago is owned by the Cortina Section of the CAI and is named in honour of Gianni Palmieri, who was awarded the Gold Medal of the resistance. It is built on the banks of a beautiful alpine lake, in whose waters are reflected the bold pinnacles of the Croda da Lago Group. Built in 1901 and renovated in 1947, it offers basic hotel services for 51  people and is open from mid-June to October. Water inside; inside and outside toilets; shower; winter shelter for two people; CNSAS 118 Rescue station. Tel: +39 0436 20 85 ; email: ;

From the Rifugio Croda da Lago – Palmieri, take the comfortable mule-track marked 434 to the south, which in about an hour will take you to the Forcella Ambrizzòla, 2277m, from where you continue for the Rifugio Città di Fiume as already described on day five.

Rest points

Berghotel Passo Giau, Rifugio Città di Fiume


From the Rifugio Nuvolàu, after a few metres, you go on to the south-west side of the plateau at the summit and then descend immediately by a rock leap, with the help of a ladder and some metal ropes (the use of a ferrata kit is recommended). After this, follow the path marked with the number 438 that leads to a large valley scattered with grooved rock slabs. From there, you should go up to a crest ridge which leads to a gorge that goes down towards the Giàu. The gorge is crossed by a path along which you may find easy rock leaps (the less experienced should be careful): at the bottom there are even some fixed ropes. Finally, the road leads to the left, at the top of a steep grassy ridge, parallel to the gorge, along which you descend in sharp zigzags. At the bottom you meet the gorge again, and you immediately leave it behind and go on to a convenient path which leads you through rocks and pastures, and finally onto the hill that descends smoothly and easily down to the Passo Giàu, 2236 m, where there is an excellent hotel and restaurant. At the Passo Giau, take path 436, which crosses the vast meadows and leads to the Forcella di Zonia and then climbs up a valley west of the Col Piombìn until the saddle of the same name, 2239m. Beyond the saddle you cross until you enter the wild Val Cernèra, which must be followed to the east. With a final, easy, zigzagging climb you reach the wide Forcella Giàu, 2360m, which was already visible from the Passo Giàu and from where there is an extraordinary view over the Lastoni di Formìn, the imposing base of the Croda da Lago, and the stretch of pastureland that goes as far as the Forcella Ambrizzòla. Passing under the vertical Dolomite walls of the Lastoni (or Lastöi), you pass some 50 metres of gradient above the clear waters of the Lago Delle Baste, 2281m, and then (at an altitude of 2175m), close by the mesolithic site of Mondevàl (worth a visit; it is fascinating) and the nearby Casèra (hut) di Mondevàl di sopra, 2158m, where you can find some simple shelter in case of necessity. If you have stayed at altitude (i.e if you didn’t go down to the archeological site and the casèra), continue eastwards on path 436, until you go up a little and reach the Forcella Ambrizzòla, 2277m. If instead you set off from the casèra and then from the site, you cross the pasture, first to the south-east, then to the north-east on path n.446, and this will take you to the same saddle. From the Forcella Ambrizzòla, continue south, almost at altitude, on path n.436, which soon passes across the Forcella Col Duro, 2293m, from which you go down first among boulders, then pastures, towards the Casèra Prendèra, 2148m. Here the n.436 goes eastwards, and after passing under the four peaks of the Rocchetta, goes down to San Vito di Cadore. Take the n.458 to the south -east, which goes to the Forcella di Col Roàn, 2075m, and then to the Forcella Roàn, 1999m. After a wooded hillock, it reaches a pastureland plain where you will find the Forcella de la Puìna, 2034m, from where you can easily continue south-west until you reach the Rifugio Città di Fiume, 1918m. Owned by the Fiume Section of the CAI, the Rifugio Fiume is the result of the renovation of the Malga Durona, carried out in 1964. Open from mid-June to mid-September, it offers basic hotel services. Sleeps 22; electricity; hot water and shower; inside toilets; winter shelter equipped with 5 beds; CNSAS 118 Rescue Station. Tel +39 0437 720268; cell: 320 0377432; email:


11 km (circa)
Positive elevation gain
260 m
Negative elevation gain
915 m