Stage 7: To Refuge de Petra Piana

  • Ascent: 1000 meter
  • Descent: 750 meter
  • Time: 6hr 30min

Though harder than the previous stage, stage 7 is relatively easy compared to earlier stages of the GR20. It completes a traverse through the second highest mountain range of the island and takes in two amazing crater lakes. When early in the season, snow can be a problem. Some scrambling is required, but not to the extent experienced on stage 2 and 4 on the GR20. The area from here to Vizzavona seems especially prone to bad weather. Given the exposed nature of this stage, an early start is again advised to avoid the thunderstorms.

Lac du Capitellu and Lac du Melo visible from the GR20 in between the fog
Lac du Capitellu and Lac du Melo visible in between the fog

You start out from Manganu to climb up the valley to the ominous looking Brèche de Capitellu, a rocky gap between two stone towers. This climb is steep and the final scree slope holds snow well into the summer. Once you arrive at the Brèche, in front of you what is best described as a moonscape. Far beneath you lie the crater lakes Lac de Capitellu and Lac du Melo. A scrambly passage to the right leads to a high ridge with amazing views down the Restonica Valley to the left. Note that this passage can hold significant snow fields and a slip down the valley would be very serious.

Ridge view down the Restonica Valley
Ridge view down the Restonica Valley. Note the significant snow fields still lingering at the head of the valley.

After the ridge there is more scrambling. To reach Bocca Muzzella you need to scramble across various large boulderfields. After that, however, the hard work is done. From the broad Bocca Muzzella an easy path countours gently downhill all the way to Refuge de Petra Piana.

View from Refuge de Petra Piana on the GR20
View from Refuge de Petra Piana. The solitary Monte d’oro is seen on the right.

Refuge de Petra Piana offers awesome views down the valley and towards Monte d’Oro. As opposed to Refuge de Manganu, this place is very quiet. There is plenty of camping space available, as well as wine when enjoying the sunset from the terrace.

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