A fairly long but smooth stage along the upper Val di Susa, with a reduced height difference (except the last climb to the Rifugio Arlaud); relatively resting stage.
Some parts of the path are covered with leaves that sometimes hide wet stones: risk of slipping. Be careful.
Passing through the vineyards, we leave Susa walking on the road towards the hamlet of Giaglione, where the Great Crossing of the Alps skirts the Gorge from above (for the most adventurous ones, it is possible to descend from Giaglione into the canyon and then ascend it along the Dora Riparia river, with a via ferrata). After the Borello chapel, we pass on a very smooth up and down path. We pass the hamlet of Ramats and, continuing on the road, we reach Cels.
Walking through chestnut woods on a comfortable carriage road, we go up (about 250 m height difference) to the town of San Colombano, where a path along the hillside takes us to Eclause. Once in the hamlet of Moncellier di Sotto, the GTA descends sharply (approximately 300 m drop) and we arrive in Salbertrand.
We cross the valley floor to cross the Dora Riparia near the cemetery and start the climb (approximately 700 m height difference), all on a good path in the Gran Bosco di Salbertrand until we reach the beautiful Rifugio Arlaud, where we enjoy an open view of the ridge of Punta Sommeiller (3,332 m).
In October 2017 a huge fire devastated Val di Susa: the scarce rains and the dry wind fueled the fire and for weeks the flames destroyed hectares of woods, making the air unbreathable up to the nearby Turin.
Traces of that disaster are still visible today.
After the II Punic War, the Cottian Alps hosted the Reign of the Cozii who, thanks to a shrewd policy of alliance with the Romans, managed to maintain independence until the Augustan age. The capital was Segusio (from the Gallic sego, which meant "strong").
The Fort of Exilles (mentioned for the first time in documents of the 7th century) was a fundamental structure for the control of the Val di Susa, so much so that the Savoy and the French fought over it for centuries.
It seems that a prisoner of this fort inspired Alexandre Dumas, as he made him a character in the novel "The Viscount of Bragelonne", later reprised in the film "The Iron Mask".
Today the fort houses an impressive museum of art, literature, and cinema. For more info, timetables and tickets, follow the LINK.
Mountains are often a difficult environment for agriculture, but the potato, cultivated in Italy since 1800 (when it was imported from America), especially in pre-mountain and mountain areas, has since been a fundamental and essential food resource.
In these territories, ancient local varieties are still cultivated and present valuable organoleptic qualities that are not found in potatoes grown in the plains. In addition, altitude eliminates the need for phytopharmacological treatments because it increases natural resistance to diseases, making these varieties healthier.
Rifugio Arlaud (GTA stopover), in the Montagne Seu area. Tel. +39 335 401 624
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.