Moderately strenuous stage (quite long, with medium height difference) on the Grande Traversata delle Alpi.
The day is rewarding both for the landscape (the enchanting Val Maira and its small, precious villages) and for the cultural inspiration (traces of Occitan culture). The postcard of the day is certainly the Fremo Cuncunà, the large boulder suspended in the void.
The descent after Colletto presents some parts of muddy and slippery path in the undergrowth: be careful.
We take the GTA path and walk on a long and very scenic cross path, overlooking the Vallone di Elva and its peaks: the Pelvo d'Elva (3,060 m), Monte Chersogno (3,023 m) and, behind, Rocca La Marchisa (3,072 m). Staying sideways, we enter the Paulasso Woods up to Colle San Giovanni, where we find the circular chapel of San Giovanni. Here a small detour is a must: taking the path to the left of the chapel, in a few minutes we arrive at Fremo Cuncunà, a flat boulder suspended in the void.
Returning to the chapel, we continue across to Colle Bettone, where alternating some parts of road with the GTA path (in this section not always in good condition), we begin the descent (approximately 900 m drop) towards Stroppo. Arriving at the hamlet of Ciamino, we take the old mule track, very comfortable and panoramic on the now nearby Val Maira. We overcome Paschero (a fraction of Stroppo, where we must be careful with the many dogs that roam the town, quite tame even though without owners) and, continuing the descent, we arrive easily in Bassura (the largest inhabited center of the municipality of Stroppo), with its many ancient inns. We cross the village to the west, on the main road. Out of the village, just before the bridge, we take the path (not very evident) that goes down to the bottom of the valley. We cross the Maira torrent and, always on the GTA, we start the climb (approximately 400 m height difference), on a comfortable path in the woods, with a constant slope, never aggressive. After a flatter section, we arrive at the Madonna Chapel (1,301 m).
We continue on a flat cross path and cross the hamlet of Maurengo (the most tired ones can take advantage of the nearby Rifugio Palent, where they produce excellent grappa). Stil in the woods, we effortlessly reach the hamlet of Colletto (1,414 m), on the ridge, with a beautiful 360 ° view.
After a break, we start the descent (approximately 350 m drop), which offers some picturesque parts, alternating small villages with glimpses of vertical walls. The slope is sometimes hard and we encounter short slippery and slightly exposed sections, to which to pay attention.
Once in Combe, we walk along the road, on flat ground, for a short time and again take the GTA path, halfway up the hill, up to Matalìa. Afterward, we start the last climb (about 200 m height difference), quite regular, except for a few small climbs, which those who are tired can bypass using the asphalted road, cut by the path. Finally, we arrive at the small hamlet Chiesa (the largest hamlet of Celle di Macra).
The Val Maira is now famous for the model of tourism they have been able to develop: it has been able to say no to ski resorts to keep its wild nature intact. Today it has a wide offer of rafting, trekking, alpine skiing ...
The origin of this excellence is to be found in the 90s' when some young people returning to the valley (decidedly against the tide), wondered how to reactivate these places and had the idea of opening the Percorsi Occitani, some ring paths that retrace the entire valley. The initiative, very well structured, allows you to explore a natural environment among some of the best-preserved in Piedmont and to get to know a territory rich in culture, traditions, art, and history. The appreciation of the Occitan musical tradition has also helped to awaken interest in the valley.
Many foreign tourists, especially Germans and Dutch, appreciate the essence of Val Maira.
The Fremo Cuncunà ("the crouching woman", in the Occitan language) is a huge stone suspended in the void, near the chapel of San Giovanni di Elva. With great attention, you can look out and admire the entire valley and the surrounding mountains. The suspended spur and the other rocks below seem to represent a sleeping woman, hence the name.
In Val Maira it is possible to retrace the Sentiero dei Bottai, Path of the Coopers: many inhabitants of the area dedicated themselves to the production of the barrels which in autumn left, along these paths, to reach the Langhe, where they were used for the famous wines.
The ravioles are small dumplings made of potato, flour, and water, with an elongated cylindrical shape.
The name derives from the Piedmontese word raviulé (to roll) which indicates the movement that the hand makes to make them. Traditionally, they are seasoned with melted butter and local toma.
Rifugio Palent, just above the village of Maurengo. Tel. +39 349 858 8268
Locanda Maraman (GTA stopover), in the hamlet of Celle di Macra Church. Tel. +39 349 532 6880 - +39 340 900 1573
Starting point reachable by car.
Departure point NOT reachable by bus.
The nearest location reachable by bus is Stroppo, starting from the city of Cuneo with a change in Dronero.
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.