Italian Mountain Terms Dictionary

Just what all Alpine Curious Researchers have been wanting: An Italian Mountain Terms Translations Page!
If you are doing your own research on Italy and its mountain activities, and keep coming up with Italian language sites, here are some terms that you can spot that might help smooth out Google translate. Some are technical, some practical and some just fun to use.

Bolletino neve -  Snow forecast. Snow report on current conditions, can also include information on "impianti aperti" (lifts open).

Funiculare -  Funicular, cable rail up a mountain. Being such a wonderful way to move up a mountain, the one built for Mount Vesuvius inspired the Neopolitan song "Funiculì, Funiculà". You know the tune, made famous by recordings from Andrea Bocelli and Luciano Pavarotti.  How many lifts have inspired music? 

Funivia  - Cable car (really it is a better name than the very literal cable car ,  fun- i-via almost like saying  way of fun! and it's true as cable cars often transport us to places for having fun)

Impianti  - Literally machinery, but in the context of ski areas the word refers to lifts. Ski areas and a bolletino neve will report  the number of "impianti aperti" (lifts open). 

Montanaro - (montanara for the ladies, montanari plural) If you are here and reading this you are probably one of the montanari. As our about page indicates, it is someone of the mountains. In the spirit of full dictionary disclosure, it can also mean someone red-necky or hillbilly, but we will stick with the purer definition of someone with mountain heritage. 

Mulatierra - A mule path paved with stones, many hiking trails in Italy include  a mulatierra . Usually quite a bit of work has gone into these, the pros are that they make the trail easy to find, the drawback is granite paths can take their toll on the joints. If you become a devotee of the mulatierra, don't miss the 2600 granite steps on the trail to Val Codera. 

Rifugio - (plural rifugi) Mountain hut or shelter. Found throughout the Alps, a managed shelter where you can get something to eat and usually reserve a place to sleep in a hostel like setting. For long hikes or ski tours or climbing you can use them as a base camp or plan a multi-day journey staying the night in different spots. If hungry it is recommended you enjoy polenta as this is the most common menu item at Italian rifugi. Distinguished from a bivacco which is smaller and self serviced. 

Scialpinismo -  Ski mountaineering, back-country skiing, or the more mild-mannered sounding, ski touring. 

Sentiero -  Trail, path

Spallone -  (plural spalloni) Literally "large shoulders" the term refers to the smugglers who crossed the borders between Italy and Switzerland, carrying  contraband in large packs ( weighing over 60 lbs) on their backs. Read more about them and their gear.

Via ferrata - (plural vie ferrate) Literally the iron way.  Trails that offer those who do not suffer from a fear of heights a way to scale vertical walls. May include ladders, steps, chains, cables. They require the use of a via ferrate kit, which includes a harness, lanyard and helmet. The lanyard is specifically designed to handle the forscs of a fall on a via ferrata and is different from rock climbing slings. If you have never attempted one, best to go with a guide. 

Zaino -  Backpack