Quite a short stage along the Grande Traversata delle Alpi, almost completely downhill.
The view is amazing, especially if you take the small detour that leads to Cima di Test, which offers an incredible 360 ° view, in particular on the sharp Rocca la Meja (2,833 m), an authentic pearl of the Val Maira. The journey through the Vallone della Madonna is very impressive as well.
The detour to the Cima di Test is very suggestive but requires experience and a firm step, because of the numerous exposed passages along the rocky ridge that leads to the summit. Absolutely to be avoided, if you are an inexperienced hiker and suffer from vertigo.
MTB: follow the GTA without making the detour that leads from Colle Fauniera to Cima di Test (the stretch is equipped and can be done even with the bike on your back)
The only water point is at Rifugio Don Martini (unattended).
We go up (approximately 200 m height difference) the path of the GTA towards the nearby Colle Fauniera (2,480 m). From there, the GTA continues on the road to Colle Valcavera. However, if the day is beautiful, the most experienced ones can make a detour to the nearby Cima di Test. We reach it by taking the track that from the hill goes up westwards (about 150 m height difference), on the rocky crest, in a karst landscape. In the beginning, the route has a short aided section: at times it is very exposed.
The Cima di Test (2,620 m), gives us a wonderful 360 ° view: to the north, we see the usual Monviso, to the south, we appreciate the entire chain of the Maritime Alps, to the west, the looming Becco Grande (2,775 m) stands out, beyond which the rocky shark fin of Rocca la Meja (2,833 m) emerges, an authentic jewel of Val Maira. The grassy surface of the summit plateau is studded with precious edelweiss, which we are careful not to step on.
From here on it's all downhill (approx 1,450 m drop ). We take the path that descends steeply towards the west, in the direction of Colle del Mulo: at the previous pass, we veer to the left and we take the roadway towards Colle Valcavera, shortly before which we rejoin the GTA. We easily lose altitude and enter the Val Chiaffrea, on a comfortable roadway: in this section, it is easy to spot ibex and chamois. We pass Rifugio Don Martini (unattended, you need to ask for the keys) and veer south, entering the Vallone degli Spagnoli.
Once in the locality of Gias Mure, we return to the path and descend the beautiful Vallone della Madonna, admiring the underlying canyon carved by the torrent, surmounted by the great Monte Bersaio (2,385 m). The path, very steep here, is sometimes slippery and you need to be careful. Finally, the slope decreases and we walk along the stream, soon reaching the beautiful village of Sambuco.
The toponym of the municipality Sambuco seems to go back to the plant (elder) of the same name, which is particularly widespread in these territories. Another hypothesis states that it could derive from the sambuca, a triangular-shaped harp of Greek origin, used in ancient times by shepherds.
In Val Stura, a few kilometers north of Sambuco, lies the hamlet of Pontebernardo, in the municipality of Pietraporzio. The town is dominated by the mountain ridge that forms the scary Gola delle Barricate, formed by high vertical walls of limestone, which fall sheer to the road.
In the village, it is possible to visit the Ecomuseo della Pastorizia, Ecomuseum of Sheep Farming, created from the project for the recovery of the Sambucana sheep breed and from the rediscovery of the pastoral culture in the Stura Valley. The structure, as well as the museum, houses a small cheese factory open to the public and shop for Sambucana sheep's wool products.
For more info, timetables and tickets, follow the LINK.
In the Vallone del Piz, above Pietraporzio, there is a monumental larch: over 23 m high, the trunk measures a good 6.6 m in circumference. It is estimated that the tree can boast an age of at least 650 years, making it the oldest in Piedmont.
The Sambucana, a local high-altitude sheep, precious for its wool, is renowned above all for its compact, tasty, low-fat, and, above all, organic meat. The animals are bred according to the ancient rhythm of the seasons: they spend the winter in the stables, to eat local hay, while in summer they are taken to the mountain pastures rich in aromatic herbs and pure water.
Particularly good is the Sambucano Lamb (Slow Food Presidium).
Albergo della Pace (GTA stopover), in Sambuco. Tel. +39 0171 96628
Starting point reachable by car.
Departure point NOT reachable by bus.
The nearest location reachable by bus is Pradleves, starting from the city of Cuneo.
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.