Not a very long stage, but nevertheless intense.
A tough initial climb is followed by a long stretch of the panoramic ridge towards Testa dell'Assietta (2,565 m). Afterward, a long descent ending in the fabulous village of Usseaux, a symbol of Occitan culture.
The last stretch of ascent towards the Assietta road has very steep parts, you need to be well trained.
Water points are absent from Rifugio Casa Assietta to the village of Balboutet.
We start following the GTA, immediately uphill ( approximately 750 m height difference). After a first part, on a good path, in the woods, the slope increases and the struggle is intense, especially in the last part out of the trees. We reach the panoramic carriage road on the ridge, pass by the foot of the Testa di Mottas (2,545 m), easily accessible for those wishing to enjoy a 360 ° view) and pass Rifugio Casa Assietta, near the lake of the same name.
Continuing on the carriage road, we reach the monument located on the Testa dell'Assietta (2,565 m), in memory of the battle fought here in 1747, between the Kingdom of France and the Kingdom of Sardinia (victorious). We continue and, slowly losing altitude, we are soon at Colle dell'Assietta (2,472 m).
The long descent begins (approx. 1.000 m drop) towards Val Chisone, never excessively steep. At first, it is easy to confuse the path with the tracks of the cattle. After the Berg mountain pastures in Assietta, the path flattens for a while, then we descend until we skirt the Rio Assetta, in the Cerogne valley. Therefore, we take a comfortable carriage road on sloping ground and reach easily the village of Balboutet, from where we finally reach the delightful village of Usseaux on a paved road.
Usseaux is probably the village crossed by Julius Caesar and mentioned in the "De Bello Gallico" (where it is called Occellum). The name may have Celtic origins, from uxellos which means "high". Here the patois is still spoken: it is a variant of the Alpine Occitan, that is to say, the Langue d 'oc (i.e. Provençal) once spoken in the south of France.
Usseaux, inserted among the most beautiful villages in Italy, is the town of murals.
In fact, in the alleys of the small village, we find about forty beautiful and colorful murals. The main theme is that of daily peasant life, nature, and animals, passing through the imaginative characters of fairy tales.
To embellish the village, mailboxes are often painted by the owners, giving the impression of an open-air museum.
Not far from Usseaux is the impressive Fenestrelle Fort, the largest alpine fortress in Europe: a gigantic wall, whose walls extend for over 3 km, completely closing the passage into the Val Chisone.
After a long period of abandonment, the fort was recovered and can be visited today, to the delight of enthusiasts. The “covered staircase” certainly deserves to be explored: an artificial tunnel built in stone masonry, which connects the various parts of the fort, for a total length of almost 2 km and a difference in height of 525 meters. The 3,996 steps make it the longest covered staircase in Europe.
For more info, timetables and tickets, follow the LINK.
The plaisentif, known as "the cheese of violets", has the characteristic of being produced with raw milk milked in the first days of the mountain pastures. Rich in the aromas of the local flowers that bloom in those days (including violets); it is aged for at least eighty days.
This cheese, already appreciated in the Middle Ages, was rediscovered thanks to an ancient recipe from the 1500s, found in 1999.
Pzit Rei (GTA stopping place), in Usseaux. Tel. +39 0121 83876
Starting point NOT reachable by car.
The nearest location reachable by car is Monfol.
Departure point NOT reachable by bus.
The nearest town reachable by bus is Salbertrand, starting from the city of Turin.
Here the LINK to check the timetables.
Starting point NOT reachable by train.
The nearest location reachable by train is Salbestrand, starting from the city of Turin.
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.