7º Alpini refuge and Bus del Busòn

Dream hiking in the heart of the Belluno Dolomites

“April is a sweet sleep” is usually said, but today I'm sure the adventure in the Belluno area will be much better than a restful sleep. Joining me today is the legendary Andrea from Montagna di Viaggi who will accompany me on this fantastic excursion in the heart of the Belluno Dolomites.
We reach the town of Case Bortot, just above Belluno, and leave the car in the large adjacent car park. Before leaving we must spray ourselves liberally with anti-tick spray as the whole area is full of these annoying parasites. Let's put on our boots, backpack on our shoulders and the adventure begins!
We take the CAI 501 path which starts right at the end of the car park and enter a comfortable grove. After a few minutes the deviation towards the gem of the day is evident: the Bus del Busòn. We descend on a rough but comfortable path, be careful in some places where there are a couple of crashed trees. We descend on this wooded ridge to the lowest point where, following the rocky walls of an ancient gorge, we reach the entrance to the wonder. A vertical rock crack through which a timid dry track passes. A colossal fissure that creates a magical canyon in the Dolomites! We enter this ravine constantly turning our eyes to the sky to enjoy this spectacle in every detail. Nowadays the Bus del Busòn is used as a venue for outdoor concerts thanks to the fantastic acoustics. In the central part of the canyon, in fact, it seems to be in the center of a rocky amphitheater. Once the exploration is finished we emerge in a Neolithic village with attached huts that recall its history. We follow the path that goes up again in the middle of the beech and hornbeam forest until we rejoin the CAI 501 path again.
We are on the final stretch of Alta Via number 1 which crosses the Dolomites from Val Pusteria to Belluno. "An absolutely wonderful excursion, a true conquest of the Dolomites, an enchanting, dreamlike landscape. Every single kilometer of the one hundred and fifty kilometers of the path will make a profound impression the mountain lover who does not intend to face the immense, steep walls". With these words, in 1966, the Bavarian journalist and mountaineer Toni Hiebeler described this Alta Via.
The route narrows into the most typical of mountain paths. Always comfortable, even if some aerial sections may not be suitable for everyone. The trail continues halfway up the slope between beech trees, conifers and carpets of wild garlic which, if in flower, spreads a scent that is exactly reminiscent of salami with garlic! You arrive at a summit from which you begin to glimpse part of the Schiara wall. And here is also the legendary Gusela! From here the climb temporarily ends and you descend with a slight slope still among wild garlic and false nettles, until you reach the Ponte del Mariano at an altitude of 681 metres.
We are in front of the impetuous Ardo torrent which gives its name to this impervious and wild Belluno valley. The Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park begins here and also the final climb to the 7º Alpini refuge. We have to reach the refuge at 1500 meters then another 800 meters of climb. The path is really pleasant, initially with hairpin bends up to the ruined Albèrch dairy. It then continues with a constant slope on the left orographic side of the Ardo, skirting very characteristic rock faces. Dry stone walls reinforce curious aerial passages, never dangerous, which give that sensation of being in the high mountains. The track returns halfway up the hill and, after a series of steep bends in the woods, we cross the Ardo on a spartan concrete bridge (1037 metres).




16.04 KM

Hike type



1186 mt

  • Mountain

    La Schiara

  • Address

    Belluno, Veneto, Italy

  • Altitude

    1502.00 m

  • Refuges

    Rifugio 7º Alpini

  • Information

    Rifugio VIIº Alpini

A few more turns in the woods, and we come out in front of a rocky wall on our left which creates a gentle waterfall that crosses the path and flows into the Ardo. Here, large potholes and cadini filled with emerald water offer a postcard of the valley (Val de l'Art or Valle dell'Ardo). We continue until we reach a magical succession of three waterfalls with the Schiara behind us for an unforgettable photograph. We return to the left orographic side, between steep bends that allow us to reach a new ford and move again to the right orographic side of the Ardo. Here too, the roar of water and small waterfalls offer peace and relaxation.
The final ramps called Calvario begin and the name has never been more apt: a succession of large hairpin bends always uphill allow you to gain the last meters of difference in altitude before the grassy terraces where the VII Alpini Refuge stands (1502 metres).
Here is this typical little house isolated in the middle of the grass, a small church on its right which gradually appears as you go up. Behind, the majestic, imperious, unbeatable Schiara wall: a vertical wall that ideally embraces the entire valley. On the left stands the solitary spire of Gusela which crowns this truly breath-taking view. We reach the terrace of the refuge and enjoy the view towards Belluno too, looking to the right you can see the Zimon de Terne still covered in snow, the fork Oderz can be reached from the impervious Val de Piero. We continue to admire the Schiara again, which is difficult to take your eyes off, up to the Pelf and the Pis Pilon fork which concludes this magical 360 degree panorama.
We enjoy a well-deserved break after the 1000 meters of altitude difference achieved. The beauty of this grey-orange dolomite is truly stupendous! We retrace our steps and walk back along the same path as the outward journey where we must stop more calmly to observe the beautiful waterfalls, the emerald water, the sun permeating through the new tender spring leaves of the beech trees.
Upon rejoining the path towards the Bus del Busòn we meet the friendly Aronne (Mountain Aron) and his splendid family. Worthy of note is the legendary mother Gabriella who successfully completed the Bus del Busòn ring and an honorable mention for her exceptional biscuits!
We then return to the Case Bortot car park and this magnificent adventure in the Belluno Dolomites ends.
The excursion to the Bus del Busòn is simple for even untrained hikers, difficulty E, with a total difference in altitude of 150 meters and a travel time of approximately 30 minutes. To reach the 7º Alpini refuge, however, I recommend the excursion for trained people given the approximately 1100 meters of altitude difference (not counting the Busòn bus). Without the intermediate stage of the canyon it takes 2 hours and 30 minutes of constant walking to reach the refuge. Same time for the return too.
I end the story with the words of Dino Buzzati, a journalist and mountaineer from Belluno, who well describe the beauties of this place: “No one, or almost no one, knows that an authentic Dolomite looms over Belluno with a damn wall of a good eight hundred metres. Those who go up to Cortina usually pass through Belluno with such haste, they don't even stop for a coffee, they don't even lift their eyes for an instant to look at Schiara with her immortal Gusela".

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Expert hikers - are generally signposted itineraries but with some difficulties: the terrain can consist of slippery slopes of grass, mixed rocks and grass, stony ground, slight snowy slopes or even single easy-to-climb rocky passages (use of hands in some places) . Although they are routes that do not require particular equipment, equipped sections can be presented even if they are not demanding. They require a good knowledge of the alpine environment, a safe step and the absence of vertigo. Physical preparation must be adequate for a fairly continuous day of walking.