This is definitely a tough stage, both for the considerable length and for the difference in height. However, it is very satisfying, especially in the second half, with extended and wild scenarios.
The highlights of the day are the view from La Cima (the panorama opens up and the majesty of Monte Rosa peeps out) and the beautiful Lake of Larecchio.
The stage, while not presenting technical difficulties (paths are in excellent condition), is very long and tiring, with several challenging climbs (especially from Taceno to La Piana). However, it can be broken by stopping at Bivacco Emilio Greppi (the keys must be requested in advance).
Water points are absent from La Piana to Bivacco Bonasson: make sure to bring good supplies, you will need it.
We start again on the GTA track. The first kilometers, quite flat, pass fast. We spot the famous Vigezzina Centovalli Railway on the valley floor. Before Craveggia, along the path, we admire some small sacred chapels with frescoes and we continue on the road to Toceno.
On the road to Promez, we start the long climb (800 m height difference) towards La Cima hill. Although long, the path is in the woods and on an excellent track: it's easy to climb. Arriving at the Colma di Fuori mountain pasture, we leave the woods and face the last uphill stretch to La Cima. We walk along the aerial ridge towards the east, admiring the Monte Rosa massif, and the Ossola and Val Grande mountains.
We arrive at La Piana (a very touristy and popular place) and continue to climb (250 m height difference) towards the Bocchetta di Muino, on a well-trodden path. At the pass (1,977 m) we find a beautiful wooden statue that portrays a Spallone (a bearer). Resuming the march we lose altitude, we skirt the Small Lakes of Muino and we are at Bivacco Emilio Greppi (where those who are tired can interrupt the stage if they have asked for the keys in advance). A short climb takes us to Bocchetta di Ruggia (1,990 m), from where we follow the comfortable and panoramic cross path that cuts the western face of Pizzo Ruggia. We reach the small chapel of San Pantaleone and ascend again (approx. 200 m height difference) towards the Forcola di Larecchio (2,148 m ).
The pass gives us a wonderful view of Lake Larecchio before facing the long descent (approximately 500 m drop) towards the Agrasino Valley. After a short flat stretch, skirting the Isorno stream, we wade it and take on the last effort to ascend the valley eastward (approximately 300 m height difference). Because of the previous strains, the stretch is tough and challenging at times, although it does not present any technical difficulties.
Finally, we are at Bivacco Bonasson. If you wish to do so, continuing to climb the path, less than a kilometer away is Ricovero Cavegna, more panoramic. With the clear sky, we enjoy a memorable starry sky: the closed valley is not affected by any light pollution.
Val Vigezzo is known as "the valley of painters" because since 1600 it has hosted and inspired many artists.
It is also called "the valley of the chimney sweepers", because there were many Vigezzini who emigrated, both to cities of Northern Italy and to foreign countries, to work as chimney sweepers. Most of them were children, more suitable for size and agility.
In the town of Santa Maria Maggiore there is a Museo Degli Spazzacamini (Museum of Chimney Sweepers), to keep alive the memory of this ancient work and the fatigue of those who did it (for more info, timetables and tickets, see the following LINK). The International Gathering of Chimney Sweepers takes place every year in the village.
In Santa Maria Maggiore it is possible to visit the School of Fine Arts "Rossetti Valentini", an institution over a hundred years old, where once many young people from the valley learned drawing and painting.
The institute's reputation allowed students to go abroad, especially to France, to seek their fortune as portrait painters.
Today this school continues to offer art courses and houses a rich art gallery. For more info, timetables and tickets, follow the LINK.
The chestnut tree (castanea sativa) has always been considered a natural resource, that has guaranteed the survival of the mountain and hill populations for centuries.
At the border between Piedmont and the Canton of Ticino, as well as along the entire southern slope of the Alps, chestnut cultivation has been a fundamental economic and social element, characterized by careful and cautious management, regulated by specific statutory regulations.
Bivacco Emilio Greppi, at the Laghetti di Muino. 6 beds, blankets, and stove. It is closed and you need to ask the CAI section of Vigezzo for the keys. Tel. +39 0324 92158
Bivacco Primo Bonasson, at the head of Valle Agrasino, near Alpe Cortevecchio. 15 beds, blankets, gas stove, running water. It is closed and you need to ask the CAI section of Vigezzo for the keys. Tel. +39 0324 92158
Bivacco Ricovero Cavegna, at Alpe Cavegna. Beds and gas stove. Always Open
Starting point reachable by car.
Starting point NOT reachable by bus.
Starting point reachable by train from the city of Domodossola.
Here the LINK to check the timetables.
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.