The Nature Reserve of Val di Mello
If you could spend a single word to define Val di Mello, that word could only be “paradise”. An almost flat valley floor that requires no effort to be covered. Waterfalls that descend to the right and left of the numerous side valleys. A torrent that suddenly spreads out into a puddle with a huge boulder in its center. Trees and meadows that rise to lap rounded walls of gray rock, which seems almost like a metal casting, crossed by deep cracks or by white veins that make up for climbers privileged lines of climb. And steel huts that are confused with the characteristic blocks sprinkled on the lawns with unsurpassed randomness. Add a lucky exposure to the sun and the magnificent effect that makes the end of Mount Disgrazia with its more than 3,600 meters of elegance that earned him the name of Pizzo Bello.
The human history of this valley is truly unique: mainly pasture belonging to the farmers of the village of Mello, a village placed half-way on the Rhaetian side of Valtellina, has been crossed for years by mountaineers directed to the high peaks above and access it is made more comfortable by the presence of the Allievi-Bonacossa shelter and the bivouac Manzi, without, until the 70s of the twentieth century, worthy of a look, which was not simply contemplative, the walls that rise even 500 meters from the valley floor. His discovery took place on the merits of young climbers, who complicit in the wind of news that he had taken in those years to blow on the rocks, ventured up those almost apparently unstable plaques. Thanks to the Milanese group that had its leader in Ivan Guerini and the Sondrio’s rock climbers, the first seventh-degree streets of the Central Alps were born, almost all characterized by evocative and fascinating names that at the time made to shout to the scandal.
But together with the desire to climb, indeed from that, the awareness arose that due to its fragile nature, the risk of overcrowding, the desire to get as far away as you can with cars, for a misunderstanding desire for security that leads to the construction of more invasive protection works than any damage they want to remedy, as well as the ancestral need to exploit the natural resources of the place, Val di Mello was exposed to too many different attacks to defend itself.
Meanwhile, the fame of the Valley exceeded the Italian borders and some of its streets became pilgrimage destinations for climbers first Italians and then coming from all over the world, many of which gave new impulse to the search for new paths, creating increasingly difficult and increasingly beautiful, in a challenge that is open to new contributions.
It was the climbers who had the foresight for their “playground” to be preserved. These were the years in which the fruits of the preaching of Antonio Cederna, the true pioneer of the defense of the Italian territory, began to be reaped, but the road ahead was still long and full of mediations. The most complex of which had as its object the right of those (“melat” farmers and granite quarrymen) drew their livelihood from the valley and saw a legislative intervention aimed at its defense as the umpteenth complication in a centuries-old struggle to wrestle their sustenance to a stingy nature. Mediation has been long and complex but has proved fruitful. So, when in January 2009 the Lombardy Region has placed this paradise under protection, the history of the Valley has embarked on a path in which those who love this strip of land have really seen the completion of a journey.
Since then, the valley has been a unique nature reserve that completely engulfs it, pushing to the peaks that surround it. Inside it is protected by an Oriented Nature Reserve, while an area of its left hydrographic side, near its outlet is protected as an Integral Nature Reserve, the maximum protection: in that area is even inhibited access to people.
But the Valley whose fragile balance is entrusted, in addition to the appropriate protection of the law, to the grace and intelligence of those who frequent it, is above all a magical place. You can appreciate it in every season: try to visit it with snowshoes in winter, on a midweek autumn day, or when the walls start to shake off the snow in the beginning of spring and bring back unforgettable sensations.
The road to Val di Mello is open to vehicles with some limitations:
- the access is allowed to max. 40 vehicles/day only after purchasing the ticket of 12 Euro provided by a dedicated parking meter placed in the parking area next to the Tourist Office.
We strongly recommend WALKING TO Val di Mello, when possibile. (20 min. about on foot from San Martino)