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Alberto Graie and Loretta Spaccatrossi climbing Ouverture San Fin.
Photo by archivio Ivo Ferrari
Pilastro di Cristiano (in memory of Cristiano Delisi), established in 2005 by Bruno Moretti, Bruno Vitale and Paolo Bongianni
Photo by archivio Ivo Ferrari
Climbing up Via Sciuscià, first ascended in 1983 by Fabio Delisi, Angelo Monti, Marco Forcatura and Simone Gozzano
Photo by archivio Ivo Ferrari
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Photo by archivio B. Vitali

Sperlonga, rock climbing, memories and beauty by Ivo Ferrari


Ivo Ferrari and the simple beauty of climbing: 3 rock climbs at Sperlonga and the pleasure of climbing, of feeling the sun and the rocks, and delving in the past (Fabio Delisi) and present.

"I've got a lot of friends at Sperlonga" Ivo Ferrari wrote to us "they work hard at keeping the routes in good nick... there's a box where the ever-demanding climbers should leave their change... that money is used to buy bolts and hangers." These words were followed by a little story that shares something which many climbers have in common. A "normal" experience, with ingredients such as rock, light and sky and also memories, beauty and happiness. In short, all the pleasant things that climbing can offer.


Sperlonga, hot sun, Mozzarella di Bufala, Tielle and hospitality! At Bruno's "Ristoro da Guido" restaurant you can sit back and get to know climbers from all over Italy, exchange ideas and advice. It's a great and beautiful place where to start your day before climbing at Sperlonga. Autumn, winter and spring are the best times of year to discover more about Sperlonga's vertical delights...

That morning I met up with Loretta and Alberto. They'd come down from Rome, I'd slept in the campsite with Federica and the children. The sky was blue, calm was in the air, we weren't in a rush, tomorrow is another day and... we'd see! Our plans? Check out to routes which have been neglected of late, two of the first multi-pitch routes to be established here: "Ouverture san fin" and "Sciuscià". Created in the early '80s and left there as historical milestones and to show how time moves on.

The Pilastro di Ponente is Sperlonga's "wild" rock face, few climb there, there aren't any single-pitch routes, the approach is a bit less straightforward and on routes like "Overture" the gear is, by modern standards, both out-of-date and run-out. As we turned the corner the noise disappeared, the cars that drive down old Via Flacca disappeared from view and we were left with rock, plants, scents and the sea. A small corner of tranquillity!

Alberto and Loretta guided me along a path past dry branches and scorched plants; the summer sun beats hard here and water falling from the sky is sometimes a mirage. I was elated, I knew nothing about what surrounded me: names, routes, everything was hearsay. Now though the time had come for the journey back in time: Ouverture San Fin lay above us and my guests kindly let me take the lead. My forearms were ready, but there was the thrill of the first time, reading the rock always creates some difficulties and I started off slowly, touching hand and footholds. I slowly try to follow the rock's logic and fortunately it shows the way.

At the first belay all three of us looked upwards! A slab, apparently completely blank, was were we had to go. White powder on my hands and off I went, with more conviction in my arms than in my head, upwards, dancing on small footholds, climbing '80s style, balancy, where power only serves to create resistance, one move, another, my friends get further and further away! "Those two were strong" I said to myself as I passed the crux and climbed a ramp which led to the belay. Fabio Delisi and Dario Brighenti, yes, they were "ahead of the times" to have first ascended this compact slab ground-up in 1984. Fabio was one of "those strong ones"...

As we descended to the base we were taken in by the desire to try nearby "Sciuscia", a route established by Fabio once again, this time with Gozzano, Forcatura and Monti. This is possibly the most logical line on the entire face: a crack straight up into the blue sky which, recently, has been tamed by bolts!

How strange, I've never met Fabio and his friends, I was a little boy when they were not much more than youngsters, I didn't know a thing about this fantastic game when they began to change the rules. But, oddly, touching "their" holds made me feel closer to them. I was overcome by respect for their climbs, and while I ascended and really mistreated my forearms up this wonderfully linear crack, while my quickdraws clipped into the bolts, I was overcome by a feeling of sadness: a scarred masterpiece, human strength and boldness rendered similar to many others! I don't know the reasons for all of this, but one thing is certain: if only a few repeat the bolted Sciuscià, even fewer would climb it as the first ascentionists did back in 1983.

At "Da Guido" I joined Dario, my son, who was intent on devouring an enormous sandwich. It was almost as if they hadn't noticed I'd been away, the sea and having fun had kept them busy all day.

Some time passed and now it was I who was guiding Silvano towards Pilastro di Ponente, to the Eden sector. We'd got our sights set on "Il Pilastro di Cristiano", a modern route created by two completely in love with Sperlonga, two who had first ascended a large part of the area, Bruno Moretti and Bruno Vitale. This route was fabulous: fantastic rock, pumpy moves, safe bolting. Something "modern" created by those who know how to create fun!

I'll certainly return to climb on this Great Wall, because my son is crazy for Bruno's sandwiches! And he's not wrong!

A special thanks goes to all those who, through their love and commitment, have rendered Sperlonga and its sunny rock faces a small paradise for climbers from all over Europe. Sperlonga is one of the largest self-financed cliffs in Italy so please don't forget to leave a small contribution in the green bow at "Ristoro da Guido". Thanks and happy climbing.

Ivo Ferrari

OUVERTURE SAN FIN - Fabio Delisi and Dario Brighenti, 1983
SCIUSCIA’ - Fabio Delisi, Angelo Monti, Marco Forcatura and Simone Gozzano, 1983
PILASTRO DI CRISTIANO (in memory of Cristiano Delisi) - Bruno Moretti, Bruno Vitale and Paolo Bongianni, 2005





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