To the memory of Paolo Carlesi.
Long and demanding stage, marked by the overcoming of the Colle di Valdobbia, with significant differences in height both up and down, even without particular technical difficulties.
The pass opens the door to a new region: the Aosta Valley, among the giants of the Alps.
The Peccia - Colle di Valdobbia section represents a variation of the Sentiero Italia (that reaches the Piana Grande instead), chosen for the panoramic views of the Alpe di Larecchio and Lake Balma.
The stage is very long and tiring: to face if well trained.
MTB: from Alpe Larecchio Inferiore it is advisable to follow path 201, going up to Pian Celletto and then to Piana Grande.
We head towards Riva Valdobbia on the beautiful cycle path that runs along the Sesia River, then we take the road that enters the Val Vogna (approximately 400 m height difference up to Peccia). Once in Ca 'di Janzo, we divert on the path on the right, that slightly climbs and continues on a nice cross path to the town of Peccia, where we admire a beautiful Walser house, with lobbies full of colorful flowers. We cross the Napoleonic Bridge and start the real climb (approximately 1000 m height difference). The first part is quiet, with some relatively short climbs. After the Lancone Chapel, at Alpe Larecchio Inferiore we take the path on the left and reach the beautiful plain of Alpe Larecchio Superiore: a far west landscape. Then we start to climb again with a more decisive slope, but without particular difficulties, to get to Lake Balma (2,316 m). The path resumes on scree: it is the steepest part, but not insidious. Finally, a beautiful cross path suspended over the head of the Piana Grande leads us to Colle di Valdobbia, the steepest part, however not difficult nor insidious. At the end of the scree, a short, very panoramic cross path on the Piana Grande leads us to Colle di Valdobbia (2,480 m), where the Ospizio Sottile stands. It is the regional border between Piedmont and the Aosta Valley.
We eat a bite and proceed on the path, leaving Piedmont (but it's a goodbye). The descent is long (about 1,100 m drop) but easy, in a pleasant and varied environment. After a last stretch in the woods, we reach the Gressoney Valley. The Savoy Castle belonged to Queen Margherita and it is worth a visit.
The first part of the name Gressoney derives from cresson, watercress, a type of grass very abundant in the meadows of this area, especially next to the rivulets of water that flow down from the glaciers.
At the beginning of the itinerary, the church of Riva Valdobbia (hamlet of Alagna), dedicated to San Michele, is worth a visit. On its facade stand out the giant fresco of the Last Judgment and the painting of San Cristoforo - the protector of travelers: it is good to dedicate him a thought.
The Regional Museum of Alpine Fauna in Gressoney was inaugurated by Queen Margherita of Savoy in 1913.
It collects embalmed examples of the local fauna, many of which were provided by the Beck-Peccoz barons. They were the first to understand the need to establish a protected area, guarded against poaching.
For more info, timetables and tickets, follow the LINK.
The Arnad lard is one of the most renowned products of the Aosta Valley, so much so that it has received the Protected Designation of Origin. Above all, it is characterized by two elements: the nutrition of the pigs from which it is obtained, based on chestnuts and vegetables, and the seasoning, with salt, natural flavorings, spices, and mountain herbs.
It is delicious eaten thinly sliced on rye bread (pan dur) spread with honey, or on toasted polenta slices.
Margherita Camping, in Gressoney-Saint-Jean. Tel. +39 0125 355370
Casa Don Bosco, in Gressoney-Saint-Jean. Tel. +39 011 5224449 - +39 011 5224440
In Gressoney-Saint-Jean there are numerous B & Bs.
Starting point reachable by car.
Starting point reachable by bus from the city of Vercelli.
Here the LINK to check the timetables.
Starting point NOT reachable by train.
Va' Sentiero is a grassroot project, thanks to the spontaneous contribution oft housands of people.
Even the most complicated dream, a 7,000km uphill dream,
can be achieved... together.