Yet another way to have fun in the snow
People have been using some form of specially adapted footwear to get about more easily in the snow for thousands of years.
The history of ciaspole
It is thought that snowshoes as we know them first appeared in Canada some 6000 years ago.
Used by the North American Indians during hunting expeditions, by the arctic populations to move more easily across the land, and by the inhabitants of the Italian Alps when out hunting, collecting wood and transporting hay from the mountain meadows to the lower valleys, in the past, the "craspe" or "ciaspole" (as snowshoes are called in Italian), were made using a solid piece of wood and strips of animal skin or cord to keep them in place.
Today's snowshoes are not unlike the North American originals only they are now made from light weight aluminum, with rubber to keep them in place.
Snow shoes are an excellent choice for both small children and adults keen to experience the pleasures of a winter excursion through the mountains without necessarily ever having to ski!
Itineraries and guides
Edizioni Liberia dello Sport has recently published a series of books indicating the best snowshoe itineraries in Trentino Alto Adige but also in Piedmont, the Parmense Apennines, Lazio and Abruzzo.
Trentino Alto Adige is undoubtedly the region of Italy offering the greatest number of activities for snowshoe fans. The tourist offices in every mountain town list the itineraries to be completed with or without the company of a local guide.
The Alpine guides of San Martino di Castrozza teach beginners how to perfect their snowshoeing technique before accompanying visitors of all ages on excursions along the snow-covered mountain paths.
One of the most enchanting walks is that through the Venegia valley, in the Paneveggio Pale di San Martino Nature Park. The valley's woods of Norway Spruce trees have been given the name Forest of Violins because, for centuries, the top quality resonance wood has been used to make violins, but also cellos and pianos
Each January and February, on the high plain of Brentonico, near Rovereto, the "Golosneve" is organized; featuring both day and night time snowshoe excursions with plenty of stops for tastings of typical products.
The undisputed Italian capital of snowshoeing is the Val di Non where almost 40 years ago the first Ciaspolada competition was held.
Now one of Trentino's most important sporting events, the 8km Ciaspolada race has great international appeal and attracts some 6000 contestants, including professional sportsmen and women and excursionists from every corner of the globe.
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