15 September 2008

Fly like an eagle

Look ma, no hands!

If you have ever wondered what it is like to be a rocket and fly 1200 feet above a canyon at 80 mph I have the place for you. In the Dolomiti Lucane in Basilicata at roughly 3600 feet are located the two mountain towns of Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa on opposing sides of a plunging 1200 foot deep gorge. This location is picturesque in its own right and worth a visit solely to take in the panoramic views of the soaring Dolomiti Lucane and the surrounding country.

These two towns however, have joined together and two years ago they opened Volo dell’Angelo, a high-wire act I doubt you will find anywhere else. They have strung two high tension cables over 4000 feet long across the separating gorge and you can get yourself strapped on for an adrenalin rush as you zip over the gorge head first towards the opposing town. For a round trip you go to the second cable and zip back to the town you started from. Valerie opted out of this joy ride when we were in Basilicata earlier this month but I really enjoyed the flight on the wire.

If you are in that area and are going to do the Volo dell’Angelo (Flight of the Angel) I do have a couple warnings: the entire process is not fully explained on the website or by the local staff. Of course they speak no English. We actually learned more from talking to the navetta driver while Valerie decided if she was up for the ride than from the other staff.

The two cables, called Linea San Martino and Linea Paschiere, are located a good distance from each other and they have a navetta that will take you only part of the way between the two launch points. For example when you arrive in Castelmezzano the navetta takes you about a kilometer then you must hike almost two more kilometers to the launch point to return to Pietrapertosa, and the hike will be up almost a 150 meters change in elevation (part on a dirt trail). On a hot summer day this is no easy task. The launch point in Pietrapertosa also requires a good climb up from the town. The flights last only minutes but the entire adventure will require almost an hour.

For me the launch was the scariest part as the ground rushes by below you but you are quickly out over the gorge where this sensation is replaced by the feeling of flight. The stop at the downhill end is a little abrupt but not enough to cause any discomfort. This is certainly an experience I would recommend to other thrill-seekers.

This is the view for the launch point for Linea San Martino, lower left.

Getting "hooked up" for my first flight.

And off I go from the launch pad for Linea San Martino.

I am the yellow spot on the lower left headed off to Castelmezzano.


erin said...

AUGH!!! I'd be screaming the whole way down...but I'm sure it's fun. Glad to see more photos, b/c I was curious about it when I read in on Valerie's page a couple of weeks ago!

Barbara said...

That looks like SOOOO much fun! I know I'd love it. Thanks for sharing your adventure!

Bryan said...

It was a brief but exciting flight each time. The hike between the "Linea" was more than I expected.

Anonymous said...

You're funny!!