Corno Stella

CornoStella013It is a mountain name I often heard pronounced when we spent a week at Foppolo during summer holidays in my childhood, but I’d never climbed it. When I was deciding on Saturday what to do together with my friend Veronica, a quick search made me choose this place. The weather forecast was not rosy enough to embark on the long haul to the Rhaetian Alps that we’d envisaged doing in the first place, so we were looking for something nearer and this lent itself as an easily accessible place in a valley branch I never happen to visit.

The starting point is Foppolo, 60 km from Bergamo, an end-of-the-valley village that could easily be defined as an eyesore, as all ski resorts tend to be. The building boom has completely annihilated the mountain character of this once secluded place. The 1970’s have left a scar in the landscape a bit everywhere, but places that were “lucky” enough to be chosen as holiday resorts bore the brunt of the building onslaught. Now Foppolo looks like a mountain concrete town made up of rather tall buildings for its high elevation, mostly holiday homes and hotels.


CornoStella002To be true, the architectural style is not ugly in itself as it retains some mountain character along with a nostalgic flavour of those decades. Moreover the buildings appear in a respectable state of repair and some are undergoing an overall facelift that will probably enhance their vintage look.

There is a big horseshoe-shaped building, for instance, with a roof futuristically sinking in the middle and picking up at the ends, its façade covered in dark timber to give it a dash of mountain appearance. Another apartment block, maybe 5 storeys high, directly at the foot of the ski run has portions that stick out and play with the surface in an interesting way…

Appealing as the architecture may be, this is nevertheless not the setting I’m used to find when I start a hike in the mountains. The ski slopes and lifts add to my feeling of heavily modified landscape and remind me of the perverse effects of mass holidays.

Leaving this devastation behind, we followed the ski run up to its upper end and from there we continued along the dirt road to Lago Moro. This is a beautiful round alpine lake that has not been exploited for the generation of hydropower, presumably because its basin didn’t have a shape adapted to the construction of a dam with adequate holding capacity.

The lake shore was hosting a drove of summer camp children on their daily outing who had come up here by the chairlift. We slowly gained height from their hubbub following the signpost indicating Corno Stella only 30 minutes away, but we realised it took us longer to trundle up the steep ascent from just over 2200 m to the summit 400 m higher.

From the top, which you can get to after walking along a short ridge, the view is all-round and encompasses the Rhaetian Alps to the north and the valleys lying to the south. Although the visibility was not perfect, is was a rewarding scene, that offset the disappointment of not making it to the top of Mount Aga two weeks ago. Corno Stella is only 100 m lower than Mount Aga, which we could discern with its tricky, still snowy side thanks to a summit compass.