Originally thought to date back to the nineteenth century via Ferrata is more strongly associated with the First World War as a means of moving troops across mountainous regions as quickly as possible. More recently its popularity has seen the number of routes increase to over 1000 across the European Alps.
In essence Via Ferrata is a series of steel cables, iron rungs, pegs, carved steps and even ladders and bridges designed to provide added security to the relatively inexperienced and seen as a step up from regular mountain walking. It allows more people to access dramatic locations and difficult peaks normally the reserve of professional mountaineers and climbers.
Distances can vary from routes that take an hour to those that cover significant distances and altitudes. In some locations, such as the Dolomites, routes can be linked together with overnight stays in characterful ‘rifugios’ many of which serve excellent local food.