Fairly long and moderately demanding stage, characterized by the long climb, in a wild environment, to Passo della Preja.
Very scenic and mostly out of the woods. Beautiful is the arrival into the Antrona Valley, via Lake Cheggio.
Small sections, slightly exposed in the cross path between Campo and Passo della Preja.
In the same section, the path is little beaten and presents invasive vegetation and often tall grass: therefore, it is easy to meet vipers. It is advisable to be alert and beat the ground with sticks, to make them move with due advance.
The track is often not very visible and covered by tall grass: keep an eye on the GPS.
We leave again, on the uphill path in the woods (approx. 350 m height difference), to resume the GTA just before Alpe Oriaccia. We take the easy path along the hillside and, in gentle ups and downs, we pass the bucolic clearing that houses the beautiful Bivacco Marigonda. We continue effortlessly on a slight slope. Once out of the woods, the path is very open and offers us a magnificent view of the green mountains, on the opposite side of Val Bognanco (Cima Camughera, 2,249 m; Pizzo Montalto, 2,705 m), carved out by thin and steep streams.
Overcome Alpe Campo, we slightly lose altitude before starting the climb (approx. 400 m height difference) towards Passo della Preia. The area, very wild, is barely frequented. Both the path and the signpost are often covered by tall grass and it is not always easy to guess the direction. At Alpe Preia (that offers emergency shelter, under a large glacial erratic), the path becomes steeper. After the last stretch, we are at the Preja Pass (2,327 m): in front of us the Val Loranco, dominated by the dramatic Pizzo Andolla (3,656 m).
The descent to Lake Cheggio is long (approximately 800 m drop) and initially quite steep but on a good track. Once at Alpe Testa Inferiore, we take the path to the right, towards the valley floor. We pass the Loranco stream and continue towards the western shore of Lake Cheggio, which we travel on a comfortable and very satisfying route, suspended over the green waters. Shortly after the large dam, we reach the village of Cheggio, where stands the Rifugio Città di Novara (those who are tired can stop here for the night).
Finally, we face the last, easy descent (approximately 550 m drop), alternating the path with short stretches of road (soon returning to the woods), and we reach Antronapiana.
The Strada Antronesca, on the Ossola valley floor, is considered one of the oldest routes for the Alpine passes, perhaps already traveled by Etruscans and Romans.
It detached from the ancient Via Francisca (used to reach Flanders and Champagne) and served to move from Ossola to Valais (southern canton of Switzerland) through the Sass pass. From Valais came mainly cattle and the famous Valesino cloth, while from Ossola they exported the sour wine produced on the terraces at the mouth of the valley, the iron extracted from the mines of the Brevettola and finally the salt, essential for the preservation of food.
Like all mountain roads, the Strada Antronesca had to face maintenance problems as well. Nonetheless, it was in use until the 17th century, when, along with many others, it lost its importance because of the construction of the Napoleonic road of the Simplon and therefore, fell into oblivion.
However, since 1996, thanks to the work of the CAI of Villadossola, a new era of cultural excursions has opened for the Antronesca road.
The Antrona Valley is characterized by the green color of the Antigorite Serpentine, a mineral in rectangular flakes and in compact masses. Today it can be admired in the geological route "Green Rocks of Antrona".
Ossola is a land of excellent cured meats. Typical in Valle Antrona and Val Vigezzo is the violino di capra, goat violin, so-called for its particular shape, that reminds the shape of a violin: to slice it, you need to place the cured meat on the shoulder, using the knife as if it were a bow.
Rifugio Città di Novara, in Cheggio. Tel. +39 0324 575977
Camping Le Betulle, in Antronapiana. Tel. +39 0324 51 892 - +39 348 723 9944
B&B La casa della nonna, in Antronapiana. Tel. +39 0324 51892
Starting point reachable by car.
Departure point NOT reachable by bus.
The nearest town reachable by bus is Bognanco, starting from the town of Domodossola.
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.