Exploring the Depths of the Gorge of Ponte Alto in Trento, Italy

It’s not every day you can see a waterfall in a city, but you will find two in the Gorge of Ponte Alto in Trento, Italy.

Located on the outskirts of the northern Italian city of Trento, the Gorge of Ponte Alto has been cut deep between two mountains for millennia by the Fersina stream. The Italian name is the Orrido di Ponte Alto. My silly mind thought orrido had something to do with being horrible (because it’s so deep) but it’s actually just the Italian word for “ravine.” I can’t find anywhere that says how deep the ravine itself is, but the two waterfalls have a cumulative drop of over 130 feet! What’s crazy is that, in some spots, the gorge is less than six feet across, meaning that you could reach across and touch both sides.

Gorge of Ponte Alto Upper Waterfall

The river flooded several times over the years, so in the sixteenth century, waterworks were built within the gorge. These are some of the oldest waterworks in the world, and essentially consist of a series of dams deep within the gorge to break up the acceleration of the river’s current.

The canyon walls are a beautiful striation of red rocks. Although not a lot of sun gets down to the bottom, you can still get some fantastic shots of the waterfalls. There are several different viewing platforms to visit. One gives you a vantage of the upper waterfalls. Another suspends directly over the lower waterfalls for that wonderful feeling of vertigo as you see the water disappear into blackness beneath you. My favorite platform was reached by a tight spiral staircase carved into the rock beneath the waterfall, and took you out behind the flow of water.

Gorge of Ponte Alto Behind the Waterfall

I had the chance to see the gorge with fellow bloggers at the Traverse Travel Convention. While the gorge has been a tourist attraction for nearly a century, it was closed for 25 years due to safety concerns, and only reopened in 2015. Now you can take guided tours down to the waterfalls for €5 (about $5.50). It takes about an hour for the tour. Tours are available every hour between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on the weekend, or you can book a private tour from their website. To get there, find the Trento bus station next to the central train station and take the B103, B401 or B402 to the Gorge of Ponte Alto stop (3 stops from the center). Bring good shoes (no sandals or heels) and expect to get a little wet at the platform behind the falls.

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