4. Alto Tanaro Tour, stage 4: from Rifugio Mongioie to Rifugio Don Barbera
The Chapel of Sant'Erim and the Selle Refuge in Carnino
The Chapel of Sant'Erim (Chapel of Sant'Elmo) was built following the saint's apparitions here to groups of shepherds. Tradition has it that a mass was celebrated here every year on the day the cattle went up to the mountain pastures.
The Rifugio Selle di Carnino was built from a shepherds hut by the Ligurian Section of the CAI . It was used until the Second World War when it was seriously
damaged and definitively abandoned.
[A. Parodi, R. Pockaj, A. Costa - Nel cuore delle Alpi Liguri, collana Sentieri e Rifugi, Andrea Parodi Editore, 2012, p.42]
The path proceeds for a long time on a slight slope and, ignoring a branch on the left for Viozene, climbs to a crossroads: on the right the path for the Grotta delle Vene branches off, straight on (recommended) you reach the suspension bridge over the stream that flows into the Vallone delle Merged.
A final uphill traverse reaches Colla di Carnino (1594 m, 1:00 hours from Rifugio Mongioie). Descend on the opposite side of the pass with a wide path which, near the ruins of Tetti delle Donzelle (1516 m, 0:15 hours from Colla di Carnino), joins the dirt road coming from Carnino Inferiore.
Follow it to the left and leave it after the second bend to the right: up here, take the path that branches off to the left, descends quite steeply, crosses the dirt road further down the valley, then bends eastward along the hillside and reaches Carnino Inferiore ( 1359 m, 0:15 hours from Tetti delle Donzelle).
Winding through the narrow streets of the village you arrive at the asphalted parking lot below.
Follow the dirt road that branches off to the north-west, leaving it immediately to turn left over a bridge and take the comfortable mule track that goes up to the Carnino Superiore car park (1384 m, 0:10 hours from Carnino Inferiore).
Cross the village, ignore the fork on the left for Passo Lagarè, and enter the Vallone di Carnino.
The tortuous route winds along sunny slopes; after a fountain, the path cuts across the orographic left side of the valley, leaves the crossroads for Passo delle Mastrelle on the right and reaches the narrow notch of Gola della Chiusetta (1811 m, 1h20 from upper Carnino).
The narrow passage, which gives access to the Vallone dei Maestri, leads to a first grazing plain, followed by a second, wider one, site of the recent pasture of the Selle di Carnino and the Chapel of Sant'Erim. Keeping to the right of the buildings, continue on the path which with a long diagonal between pastures and rocks slowly gains altitude, leaves the branch for Colle del Pas on the right and finally, after a short steeper stretch, reaches the Don Barbera refuge (2079 m, 1:05 hours from Gola della Chiusetta).
Access and parking
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The Mongioie massif (2630m) slopes down towards the refuge with spectacular limestone formations up to 350m high where you can climb beautiful rock.
In addition, there are many activities related to the mountain accompanied by typical and seasonal cuisine.
Rifugio Don Barbera
The current structure, in stone and wood, is the result of a complete renovation recently carried out. It is a comfortable refuge, suitable for hikers as well as for groups and schools.
The refuge is located a few meters from the Colle dei Signori, immersed in the austere and uncontaminated nature of the upper Pesio and Tanaro valley natural park.