Long but fairly easy stage on the Grande Traversata delle Alpi, all downhill except for the short initial climb to Colle di Fenestrelle.
The scenery of the Vallone di Finestra is very beautiful. If there is stil time, at the end of the stage, it is worth it to pay a visit to the Men and Wolves Wildlife Center of Entracque.
The detour to Entracque represents a variant of the Sentiero Italia (which continues on the GTA and, at the height of the Ponte della Rovina, takes the climb towards the Colle del Valletto to descend to Trinità di Entracque), preferred in order to stop in the beautiful town and visit the Men and Wolves Center, true excellence of the territory.
Water points are absent up to San Giacomo, bring a great supply.
Following back to front the last stretch of the previous stage, we reach the eastern end of the Chiotas Basin. We say goodbye to Argentera and take the GTA path that goes up (approx. 450 m height difference) to the Vallone di Finestrelle. Despite the severe appearance of the environment in which we find ourselves, the path climbs comfortably, without ever being exposed.
Just before the pass, the path crosses over (you have to pay attention not to lose sight of the trail signs) and with the last stretch, we reach Colle di Fenestrelle (2,462 m), preceded by two small lakes. From the hill, the view opens on the beautiful Vallone di Finestra, completely different from the rocky cathedrals from which we have just come out.
We start the easy descent (about 800 m drop) towards the head of the Valle del Gesso della Barra, with a steady and easy slope, crossing wide meadows. Arrived at the bottom of the valley, in front of the Rifugio Soria-Ellena, we take the comfortable roadway that goes along the whole Vallone del Gesso della Barra towards the north, in a gentle and constant descent (about 1,000 m drop). The stretch is very long and pleasant, the surrounding environment changes slowly until we return to the woods. On our side, the Gesso stream flows.
Once in San Giacomo, where the road arrives (and the most tired ones can take advantage of the accommodation facilities to break the stage), we cross the stream and follow the entire path that runs along the right orographic bank, in fast ups and downs. The track is sometimes covered by vegetation and some passages must be guessed. Finally (instead of continuing on the GTA that climbs to the right at Colle del Valletto) we cross the Ponte della Rovina, return to the left orographic side and take the asphalted road towards Entracque, shortly after skirting the huge Bacino della Piastra. After the dam, we take the road on the right, that passes under the wall and reaches the town.
If we are (very) lucky to enter Entracque at the right time (... once every 5 years!), we can attend the representation of the parlate ("dialogues").
It is a monumental re-enactment of the Passion of Christ during Holy Week, which involves for a long period hundreds of people and attracts thousands of spectators.
The tradition has ancient origins, according to some sources even medieval, while according to others it could date back to the era of the Waldensian migrations (15th century).
The Men and Wolves Wildlife Center is located within the Entracque center of the Maritime Alps Natural Park. It monitors the wolves in the area and hosts some of them, which are unable to live independently in nature. The center aims to raise awareness of this fantastic animal.
For more info, timetables and tickets, follow the LINK.
Traditional in the area are the cujette, typical gnocchi prepared with the famous local potatoes, seasoned with sausage sauce. During the annual Entracque Potato Festival it is possible to taste some excellent ones.
Rifugio Soria-Ellena, at the head of the Vallone del Gesso della Barra. Tel. +39 0171 978382
Rifugio San Giacomo, in the town of the same name. Tel. +39 0171 978704
Camping Sotto il Faggio, in the locality of San Giacomo (on the right orographic bank of the stream). Tel. +39 0171 193 5515
Campeggio Il Bosco, in Entracque. Tel. +39 0171 978247
In Entracque there are several accommodation facilities.
Starting point NOT reachable by car.
The nearest location that can be reached by car is the Rovina Lake.
Departure point NOT reachable by bus.
The nearest location reachable by bus is Entracque, 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.