Approaching stage to the Maritime Alps. Of medium length, it has two long climbs on the shoulder of Monte Vaccia and Passo Bravaria that should not be underestimated.
The stage offers memorable moments and landscapes (such as the military barracks on Monte Vaccia), but the Sanctuary of Sant'Anna di Vinadio is the undisputed star of the day.
While not presenting technical difficulties, the stage is long and tiring because of the two important climbs, with a positive difference in height of 1,000 m each. For this reason, the less trained ones better break the stage in Bagni di Vinadio.
The descent from Passo Bravaria has gravel sections and you need to pay attention to where you step (in any case, nothing risky).
The only water points are in Bagni di Vinadio: make sure you have a good supply.
We leave Sambuco at dawn, on a downhill road, reaching the valley floor. After crossing the Stura di Demonte stream, we take the GTA path and start the first climb (1000+) of the day, very regular, in the woods. The route gives us some glimpses of the spectacular chimneys of the south face of Monte Bersaio (2,385 m). The path is not steep, but long and tiring.
At an altitude of approx. 1,800 m, we cross a small plateau that lets us catch our breath. Afterward, the path takes off again quite steep for the last stretch: finally it softens and after a small, pleasant cross path (we leave the woods) we reach the beautiful plain (2,243 m) under the top of Monte Vaccia. It is an incredible place, both for the view and for the fascinating presence of two former military barracks in ruins.
We resume the journey and face the descent (approximately 950 m drop), initially intense but never demanding. After passing the hamlet of Luca, a comfortable road leads us to Bagni di Vinadio. The landscape changes quickly, the Maritime Alps are now close.
After the small town (where the most tired hikers can break the stage), we resume the march on the GTA: we overcome Rio Strepeis and go to the southern side of the valley, where we take the roadway, which after skirting the stream on flat ground, enters the Insciauda Valley. Thus begins the second ascent of the day (about 1,000 m height difference): the first part is very easy, on a road with a regular slope. Exceeded 1,800 m, we pass on an easy path. The last part of the ascent, outside of the trees, is truly enjoyable, between stream and scree.
With the last climb, we reach Passo Bravaria (2,319 m), overlooking the Sant'Anna valley, allowing a glimpse of the sanctuary of the same name. There starts a long path along the hillside, which descends (about 300 m drop) to our destination. The stretch is more tiring than expected and alternates steeper segments on scree with flat parts (not too difficult).
The Vallone d'Orgials was crossed by the Via del Sale, thanks to its relative proximity to Nice. This is probably the reason for the construction of the sanctuary of Sant'Anna di Vinadio, which was built as a church-hospice for travelers.
A document from the early 1300s indicates the presence of a small chapel dedicated to Sante Maria di Brasca. In the mid-1400s the church was named after Sant'Anna, probably because of the spreading cult of Sant'Anna and San Gioachino, following the Crusades. However, the popular tradition also tells of an apparition of the Saint to a shepherdess named Anna.
In the 15th century, they introduced the presence of a permanent guardian, called the randiere, who had the task of taking care of the maintenance of the buildings, welcoming travelers, and, in case of bad weather and fog, ringing the bell to help them orient themselves.
The Sanctuary of Sant'Anna di Vinadio is located at 2,035 m and is the second-highest in Europe, after that of Rocciamelone (3,538 m).
The walls of the sanctuary are full of ex-votos, from yesterday and today, proof of the devotion to Saint Anne, who is begged for protection or thanked for a narrow escape or new birth. Characteristic of the sanctuary is the strongly inclined floor, due to the fact that the church was built on a rock below.
The crusets are a type of fresh egg pasta, with a hollow shape, similar to orecchiette. Delicious, they are cooked with leek and potatoes.
Albergo Strepeis (GTA stopover), in the Strepeis hamlet of Bagni di Vinadio. Tel. +39 0171 95831 - +39 338 369 1707
Campeggio Rio Strepeis, in Bagni di Vinadio. Tel. +39 0171 95824
Casa San Gioachino, in Sant'Anna di Vinadio. Tel. +39 0171 959125 - +39 392 545 6245
Starting point reachable by car.
Starting point reachable by bus from the city of Cuneo, with a change in Vinadio.
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.