The itineraries of each stage are also suited for excursions of single day duration due to the fact that the territory is covered with a close-meshed net of marked trails that connect with the villages down in the valley. A high mountain itinerary is also summarized as an ideal suggestion for those who are looking for a more challenging hike. The twelve stages are presented with a detailed description and a map, together with usefulhints to understand their characteristics like altitude difference, duration of the itinerary and points of special interest. Almost all the accommodations are accessible by car and thus allow choosing one’s own itinerary, even with baggage transfer service, and to enjoy a most pleasant stay. Have a great hike!!!
Valle Varaita Trekking
The whole Varaita Valley in twelve stages
Travel time: 5h
Difference or level: + 745 -505
On Via al Castello, behind the market hall, we ascend to the right on the paved road, passing between the old houses of the Guardia quarter. Next to a wayside shrine the road turns to the left and starts to follow the ridge of the hill. On a mule track we reach Pian Fiorito. We continue through the forest and reach the pilgrimage church of Santa Cristina. From the little square in front of the church we ascend the steep unpaved road. After 50 metres we leave the road and take the narrow trail on the left that leads us in a steep ascent to the wayside shrine of San Salvatore. From here we continue downwards and reach Pian Colletto, at the crossroads of several trails. We take the one that ascends and reach the hilltop where the white chapel of Saint Bernard the Elder is located. We walk in the direction of Isasca – Venasca on a narrow trail that follows the watershed. We stick to the ridge with some ups and downs and then we walk in the direction of Isasca. We enter a magnificent edible chestnut grove and descend to the village square.
Travel time: 6h
Difference or level: +703 -613
From the square of Isasca we take the road that connects the village with Venasca and the Brondello Pass. We turn right and after a few metres we turn left towards the district Castello. We ascend the steep paved road until we reach the district and then we take the unpaved road that descends on stony ground below the houses. A pleasant itinerary between edible chestnut trees leads us to a fork to the right, where a road leads to a house. We keep to the left and reach the paved road that comes up from Brossasco. We continue on the paved road downwards and reach the village of Brossasco (Via Verdi). We ascend next to the washing trough and reach the parish church of Saint Andrew. We take Via Camposanto and walk on a level itinerary until we reach Via Gilba. Here we turn left passing the unusual church of Saint Jacob with its octagonal layout. The road narrows and shortly afterwards we turn right onto an unpaved road that passes in front of a house and leads us to a small bridge beneath the impressive pressure pipe. We reach the small fenced in park “tiglieto”, we turn right and take the Via Vecchia Val Varaita to the left. We ascend between the houses, following the red and white trail markings, first on an unpaved road, then again on a paved road steeply ascending to the right. Shortly before the road ends we turn left onto an unpaved road that ascends up to a district. We cross the district and continue on the steep trail through the forest. At a clearing between edible chestnut trees and birch trees we descend slightly to the left and take the level unpaved road that leads us to the district Bigliardi. We follow the road passing S. Eusebio and Perotti. From the switchbacks with cement pavement starts a pleasant fork to the right that leads to the chapel of Saint Michael, built on the steep slope above Brossasco. Following the road we reach the district Pantoisa and the pilgrimage church of Madonna della Betulla. We always head straight on the unpaved road, and then we turn left onto a level trail that leads us to the district Nivo Soprano. We walk on a small, pretty road covered with pine needles and bordered with upright slabs, ignoring the trail that descends on the left. Again we walk on an unpaved road and turn right to reach the chapel of San Bernardo delle Sottole. We turn left onto the unpaved road and follow it until we arrive above the settlement Campo Soprano (Ciamp Subiran), where the road becomes paved. At the first fork we turn to the right and continue slightly upwards, passing Meira Cru until we reach a group of houses named Meira d'Amun (M.ra da Mont). We descend on the mule track that follows the ridge until we reach the district Guicciardi (Meira Barbo Giors). Still in descent we pass Meira Paseri and reach a wayside shrine in front of which we turn right to reach the village Frassino.
Don’t miss this! Along the itinerary we find the old parish church of Saint Eusebius, preserving the typical 15th century characteristics. Fresco of Saint Christopher on the facade (see the parish churches of Casteldelfino and Rossana) and of the adjacent cemetery.
Travel time: 5h 30m
Difference or level: +713 -83
From the square at Frassino we follow the paved road towards Chiaronto. Having reached the first switchback to the right we leave the main road and take the branch-off on the left to district Bruna, passing under the portico of the small church of Saint Bastian. We cross several districts, always keeping to the right, and we reach the pilgrimage church of Madonna degli Angeli. Shortly before the building a mule track starts on the right that leads us quickly to the district Chiaronto, passing the district Borgione. Having passed the chapel of Saint Anthony we cross through the district Chiaronto. We leave the wayside shrine and the stone fountain to our right and follow the mule track, ascending towards the district Ruera. Still following the track with the ruins of the district Ruera behind us, we turn right after a few metres onto a trail. The trail climbs towards the small stone houses (meire) at the Rore Pass. Having passed the wayside shrine and before reaching the fountain we take the trail to the left, which we descend until we get to the indication sign Meira Paola with a fork to the right. A level part of the trail follows until we get to the stone houses, where a new mountain hut is being built. Here the forest road coming from the Rore Valley ends. We follow this road for about 400 metres and shortly before a clearing we find a trail on the left side that takes us to the district Sabbione, passing through a pretty beech grove. We follow the level paved road for a few hundred metres and we ignore the fork to the right that descends to Rore. Instead we pass the houses of the Ricchiardi Valley and the chapel of Saint Stephan and we reach the district Vallone Rostagno, where the road ends. We pass on the right side of the hamlet, which is partially decayed, and –following the indication signs - we take the trail on the right. With a slight descent it crosses the Combe Creek at a retaining wall made of stone. Ascending on the other side we reach the wayside shrine of the “Gardetta”. We continue on the level trail and reach the church of Saint Anthony di Dragoniere. Having crossed the district we take the ascending paved road to the right towards Serre. Almost immediately we leave the road and follow the wall on the left below the cemetery towards Cantarane Creek. Having crossed the small rivulet we continue to ascend and shortly afterwards we reach the district Becetto.
Don’t miss this! Itinerary of the Adventure Park Charonto – Via ferrata, suspension bridges and other obstacles for a half day full of thrilling emotions. The Coup de Rure - Beautiful and unusual cliff for sport climbing that can be used all year round thanks to the enormous projecting natural roof. More than 40 lines with difficulty levels from 4 to 8a that can always be climbed, even on a rainy day!
Travel time: 6h 30m
Difference or level: +1005 -370
Starting at the wash trough on the square of Becetto, we descend to the “Ristorante del Becetto”, with a grocery store next to it. We pass below the buildings and reach the district Civalleri. Having crossed the small district we follow the obvious trail that leads us slightly downwards to Crosa Creek. We cross it and continue upwards on the trail, being very careful because the path is very exposed and is thus equipped with chain handrails. We arrive at Meira Roina, built on rocks with a highly panoramic view. In a few minutes we get from here to the mountain hut Preit, a forest nursery dating back to the 1920’s. We continue on the obvious trail, which is first level and then ascends slightly. We ignore the downward trail that in a few minutes leads to the district Chiotti and to Sampeyre. Passing Meire Bellocchio we take an unpaved road on the left and follow it downward until on the right we meet with the road coming from Chiot. Passing Meire Dueo we reach the district Serre di Raie, an interesting group of old stone houses in a panoramic location. We turn right onto the ridge trail that leads along the meadows. We follow the mule track that ascends on the rocks that emerge here, holding the creek on our left at a certain distance until we finally cross it and we reach the forest road close to the alp Cassart. We take this road for a long while until we get to Meire del Colletto with the adjacent chapel dedicated to the Madonna della Neve. We continue on the road which becomes paved at the district Puy. We get close to the Meire di Ciampaneis (Ciampanesio). Shortly before the settlement we take the trail to the right that crosses the pastures in a slight ascent. We pass an old mine and get to the Croce d’Alie, situated on a ledge where the trail surmounts a ridge and we can enjoy the panorama that the upper valley offers. We continue on the level trail and arrive at Meire Brondu. We pass a second group of old stone houses named Auriol and follow the trail on the right that leads into the heart of the Alevè Forest. We continue to ascend slightly and after some forks that we bypass, always heading straight, we reach the granges of Pralambert sottane. We meet the trail that leads us to Bagnour Lake and to the mountain hut of the same name, passing by the granges of Pralambert soprane and Secco Lake. Connection to villages down in the valley From Meire Ciampaneis we follow the road downwards and after some switchbacks at the first marked fork on the right we take the mule track that descends to Villar. Keeping straight on the same mule track and after the granges of Auriol it is possible in a short time to reach the paved road that takes us to Casteldelfino.
Don’t miss this! Alevè Forest – Magnificent Swiss pine forest, the largest of this purity in Europe, with numerous centuries-old specimens. A close-meshed net of marked trails crosses the forest: Give in to following a nutcracker bird or the intensive fragrance of resin! You won’t get lost!
Travel time: 4h
Difference or level: +589m -806m
From the mountain hut Bagnour we descend towards Castello. The descent is rapid and it takes us to Pion Caval and Peiro Grongetto. We always stick to the main trail and bypass the forks to Lago Secco. We pass by the mountain hut Grongios Martre and shortly afterwards we reach the paved road close to the mountain hut Alevè. We cross this road and take the unpaved road that takes us with a slight descent to a small bridge next to a house. We are on the old valley road just a few metres below the main road. We ascend to the district Castello. We pass in front of the church and reach a small square. From here we continue on the left side and cross over the dam of the artificial lake of Pontechianale. A pleasant, almost level walk along the lake takes us to Maddalena, the centre of Pontechianale. We arrive in the area of the ski-lifts. Here we cross the bridge and turn left to arrive in front of the town hall. We take the street that ascends on the left side of the town hall and continue always straight ahead until we reach the main road again. We cross it and enter into the district Genzana. We turn left, cross first the bridge and then the district on the only street, passing close to the fountain and the B&B La Liero. We continue and reach the main road. After a few metres we turn right onto a secondary paved road that leads us to the mountain hut Savigliano and to the district Sellette. The road we are walking on ascends continually until we reach a group of houses, where an obvious and marked trail starts to the left. It is the Lanzetti Trail, a nice rim trail above the valley and the hamlet Chianale. We follow this almost level path that leads us at mid-slope along the whole sunny hillside. We cross pastures and clearings until we finally enter a pine tree grove. The trail ascends for a few metres, before it descends into a lateral valley, leading us to a creek that we cross. Now we are in the Soustra Valley that leads to Losetta Peak, connecting us to the “Giro di Viso”. Having crossed the bridge we continue to the left and shortly afterwards we reach Grange del Rio, where we meet the road that leads to the Agnello Pass. We descend this road until on the left side we find the indication sign for Chianale. The trail we take allows us to descend rapidly without having to follow the road’s switchbacks. Again we arrive at the paved road and follow it downwards. We pass a bend with a small bridge and soon we get to the old customs post. Again a few metres and we approach the first houses of Chianale.
Don’t miss this! Ice climbing - One of the Italian valleys with the highest number of ice cascades. Every year the Ice Festival is organized in the amphitheatre of Castello. The first cascade in Italy to have ever been climbed, by Romeo Isaia (manager of Rifugio Savigliano) and Gian Carlo Grassi, is located in the Varaita Valley.
Travel time: 5h
Difference or level: +676m -996m
We start from the centre of Chianale. We are in front of the fountain on the street that goes straight and passes in front of the GTA mountain hut Laghi Blu. Near the fountain there are the beautiful church of Saint Anthony, the stone bridge and, on the other side of the river, the parish church of Saint Laurence. We cross the bridge towards the parish church and we take the first little street on the left. A pretty, level unpaved road takes us to the pastures below the hamlet Chianale. Soon it becomes a trail. We descend towards Pontechianale on the Crotto Trail. The hike is pleasant and crosses several stream channels: attention during springtime when there are still remains of snow! With some ups and downs we follow the trail until we get to the Fiutrusa Valley. Here we meet a trail that ascending to the right leads to the Fiutrusa Pass or to the Bondormir Pass. We turn left instead and descend to a small bridge. We cross it and ascend. We are on the main road slightly below the mountain hut Savigliano. We descend and take the first road on the right side that leads us to the town hall of Pontechianale. We continue in slight descent, then we turn right to cross a bridge and arrive at the head of the trail that runs along the lake and starts on our left side. We follow this trail for a few metres until we reach the first stream channel. Here a sign indicates the Battagliola Pass on the right side. We follow the trail that ascends across the meadow, we cross the stream channel and we start to ascend in a pine tree grove. Here the trail is well-trodden and ascends continually. We gain elevation rapidly. Towards the summit the pine tree grove disappears and with a long crossing towards the left we reach the Battagliola Pass. The view is enchanting: below us is the lake of Pontechianale; Monviso can be seen in all its majesty; the valley that is opening up to the plain and the Bellino Valley on the other side with Pelvo d'Elva towering over it. We descend on the trail that almost immediately becomes an unpaved road and passes next to the white cross of Punta del Cavallo. Descending we have two alternatives. We can follow the unpaved road or the trail. If we decide to stay on the road, we descend towards the district Bals and the paved road. From here we ascend for a hundred metres and then we turn left passing the district Pleyne. We cross the bridge and follow the trail that descends to Fontanile. Having crossed the district we follow the paved road until we get to the district Chiesa. If we prefer instead to stay on the trail, we first shortcut a few switchbacks but at a group of granges we definitely leave the road. We descend to the left and pass onto the other side of the valley. The descent is rapid and leads us to Mas del Bernard. We cross this district and reach the paved road. We cross the road and descend on the small street that leads us to a small bridge. We cross it and ascend to the centre of the district Chiesa.
Don’t miss this! Giro di Viso One of the most beautiful and most frequented hikes of the Western Alps. The itinerary is highly varied and crosses the territory of two Italian valleys and a French one. It passes the sources of the Po River; it crosses the first tunnel that has ever been dug in the Alps, the Buco di Viso (the Hole of Monviso); it runs at an elevation from 2000 to 3000 metres; it crosses Europe’s largest Swiss pine forest; chamois, ibex, marmots and stoats are constant trail companions; it touches the magnificent alpine lakes and it immerses in an unspoilt landscape dominated by the 3,841 metres of Monviso. A tour that should not be missing in a good hiker’s collection!
Travel time: 6h
Difference or level: +631m -301m
De la place du parking on traverse le village et on descend au pont qui conduit à la route provinciale, on la traverse et on monte à Mas del Bernard. On dépasse le hameau et on descend à Ribiera. On traverse le hameau et on garde le sentier qui continue à mi-côte et monte ensuite vers la chaussée asphaltée. On la traverse et on délaisse Posterle Superiore. Peu après Posterle Inferiore, on descend à droite direction Casteldelfino, on passe à proximité des restes du château et on arrive à l’église St-Eusebio, au beau clocher à arcades. On tourne à droite et franchit le pont on tourne à gauche. On garde la piste forestière qui descend vers le torrent Varaita conduisant à Torrette. Du centre de ce hameau on suit les indications pour Tenou, montant en partie le long un sentier et en partie le long un chemin forestier, traversant de groupes de granges et petites agglomérations. La montée est très agréable au printemps, quand on est entourés par une superbe étendue de narcisses fleuris. On dépasse la petite église au porche du Tenou et on continue sur le chemin forestier direction Fondovet, traversant une magnifique forêt de sapin blanc. A Fondovet on croise l’intersection qui collègue Calchesio au col de Sampeyre. On monte en direction col de Sampeyre jusqu’à trouver un croisement à gauche avec l’indication Meira Garneri. On suit le sentier et avec peu de dénivelée on rejoint le refuge.
Don’t miss this! Rocca Senghi - Majestic rock that towers above S. Anna. A thrilling and aerial via ferrata runs diagonally across the rock. The descent proceeds through an unusual military tunnel dug into the rock. A headlamp is compulsory!
Travel time: 4,30h
Difference or level: +236m -1161m
Leaving Meira Garneri behind us we descend the small unpaved road. After not even a hundred metres we get to a switchback to the left that leads us in the direction of Meire d’i Fiur, being named after the abundant spring bloom in this area. Still descending we walk along the meadows below the road to the Sampeyre Pass. Holding the creek to our right we continue towards Meire Sus, consisting of old alpine houses and hay barns at the back side of a wide hollow of meadows. At the wayside shrine in the vicinity of the settlement we take the trail to the right that leads us across S. Anna Creek and shortly afterwards to Meire Misservè and the snackbar S. Anna close to the chair-lifts. Following the paved road downwards for about twenty minutes we reach a fork with an unpaved road ascending to the right. We follow this road for roughly an hour until we get to an old house that has been restored in a non-local style. Paying attention we take the trail that leads downwards to the left and is marked with red signs and we follow it to the wayside shrine of Culet. We continue along the ridge following the road that passes by the houses of the same name and after a slight ascent we reach the fortresses. This interesting system of military fortifications dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. We continue the descent on the old military road that first crosses a pretty forest area, then passes by the half decayed Meire Albert and finally intersects with the mule track of the Birrone Valley. We turn right and after a short level passage we arrive at the chapel of Saint Mauro, an old devotional pilgrimage church situated right on the trail that connects directly with the Maira Valley. We descend on the unpaved road along Birrone Creek until we get to Brusà, a district still inhabited. From here the road leads us to Ressia Superiore. We reach and cross the main road over the Varaita River and shortly afterwards we arrive at the hamlet Rore.
Travel time: 5,30h
Difference or level: +358m -559m
Leaving the Albergo degli Amici behind us we cross the bridge over Rore Creek and follow the road through the district until we get close to the main road. At a sharp bend to the right a marked trail allows us to cross the trafficked road by means of a curious little bridge under the road. Following the small paved road to the right we cross the bridge over the Varaita River. Keeping left at the first fork to the district Giarassi we take the right at the second fork to reach the district Cugnet. We follow the mule track that ascends between the houses and continue through the wooded area. After a level part of the track we cross the road that connects the two groups of old stone houses called Meire della Lusiero, named after the nearby quarries for roof slabs (lause). We continue upwards, passing by the wayside shrine of the same name (dating back to 1723 it is the oldest on record in the area) in a pretty beech grove until we reach the forest road that we take to the left until we arrive at the district S. Maurizio. We turn right onto the paved road that passes by the church. We cross the upper part of the district that is still inhabited and we continue on the old mule track that leads us to the district Vittone. Levelly we continue to Fraule Creek that we cross by means of a forest road. We ascend to Meire Infernet and continue levelly along the creek until we reach Tre Meire. We follow the Via d'la Crouse (stations of the cross) and reach the wayside shrines of Chiot and Pilun d'la Baisa. We take the unpaved road to the district Giusiani. From here we take the old road arriving from the district Ballatori. Passing three further wayside shrines we arrive at the district Norastra. We continue on the paved road that leads us to the centre of the village Melle.
Don’t miss this! Toumin dal Mel - This is the best known cheese of the valley and it is produced between Frassino and Melle. The Toumin dal Mel was created in the second half of the 19th century in the hamlet San Maurizio as an alternative for butter and the classic cheese toma. Every year in the month of August the Sagra del Toumin dal Mel, the cheese fair, takes place at Melle.
Travel time: 3,30h
Difference or level: +785m -100m
From the centre of Melle we walk towards Via Crosa. After about 1 km in the direction of Comba we arrive at the fork of the district Meire. We turn left, continue levelly for about 3 km and reach the district Bric Pissetta. After about 500 metres keeping to the left we arrive at the district Chiabreri. Leaving the district we keep to the left and arrive at the district Gianleure. Descending the paved road we get close to the district Chiappellino. About 100 metres before the district, at the wayside shrine, we turn right onto the old mule track that leads us to the district Botta. From the district Botta we return on the road and continue towards the districts Chiuffran, Spert and finally Arvatti. In the latter the paved road ends and the unpaved road begins. We continue to the districts Ariola and Novaira Superiore and we finally reach the pilgrimage church of the Madre della Misericordia di Valmala.
Don’t miss this! At the pilgrimage church of Valmala starts a panoramic cross country ski trail that runs over the plateau of Valmala and ascends up to the Ciabra Pass. Ideal territory for nocturnal snowshoe hikes.
Travel time: 3,30h
Difference or level: +50m -850m
From the pilgrimage church of Valmala we walk downwards to the paved road and then follow it to the 11 right, slightly ascending next to the fountain. We continue until we get to a switchback where we walk straight ahead, keeping the road to the Ciabra Pass – the connection with the “Cannon Road” and the Maira Valley - to our right. We reach Pian Pietro, passing the café and the RV area. We ignore the fork to Lemma and walk in the direction of Venasca until we get to Pian Madama. At the end of this plateau we turn to the left, following the indication signs to Rolfa. The road becomes narrower, passes a group of houses and runs across a clearing with a nice view of Monviso. We walk through a pretty birch grove until we reach an unpaved road. We turn left and follow the main road to the district Rolfa. After the playground and the fountain we turn left and descend in the direction of S. Anna and Venasca. We descend through the forest, cross the paved road and continue on the trail. We cross the district Miceli and get back on the paved road. We take an unpaved road to the left that leads us to a pretty meadow that hosts the patron saint’s feast of S. Anna every year. We walk up to the church and walk down to the right. Quickly descending through the forest we reach the district Ponza. Here we turn left and walk further downwards until we reach the first houses of Venasca. We pass the fire station and descend to the main square of the village.
Travel time: 5h
Difference or level: +997m -609m
From the market hall at Piazza Caduti we ascend to the left of the church. We take the paved road that passes in front of the fire station in the direction of Rolfa, passing the washing trough and the fountain of Ribodino. At a level part we find a marked trail on our left. We take it, ascending through the forest. We keep the steep ascent to the small chapel of Saint Anthony to our right and walk left to the district Lussia. We cross the district and continue on the unpaved road towards Valmala. The trail alternates with the unpaved roads and we continue through a pretty forest of edible chestnuts and beech trees. Higher up the forest becomes less dense and the birch trees appear. We reach an unpaved road where we find an indication sign to the right to the district Rolfa and in front of us a house with a very pointed roof. We turn left and descend on the small paved road that leads us after about 1 km in front of the small chapel of the Madonna di Peralba. We pass on the left side of the chapel, following the road that then turns to the right towards Rossana. We reach Casale Isaia and the district Galop. We descend in direction Rossana, ignoring the unpaved road that leads to the district Grossa and to Lemma. We cross a small creek, we walk along an open meadow and we enter the thick forest. We descend on a steep trail between fenced in plots and we reach a pretty gravel road. We ignore the indication signs to the district Pritta and continue on the unpaved road. The mule track alternates with the trail and we pass a water collecting tank. We walk through a small pine tree grove and for a while we walk along a fenced in plot and reach a nice unpaved road. We pass a barrier and stay on the main track, passing a wayside shrine and some farm houses. We descend in the forest and with some switchbacks between the houses we arrive at the sports field. We cross the river on the right, walk around the cemetery and ascend to the main road. We cross it and enter the village’s centre, arriving in front of Rossana’s impressive parish church. We turn to the left and follow the indication signs to Piasco and after about 1 km we reach the district Molino Varaita. From here we take the unpaved road “Prese di Saluzzo” to the right which passes between the spinning mill Valvaraita and the old factory Molino and runs along the Varaita River. Shortly afterwards we reach the historic centre of Costigliole Saluzzo, between the two castles.
Don’t miss this! Sentieri della libertà (Liberty Trails) A net of marked trails leads to some of the most significant places of the Resistance in the province of Cuneo.
The route takes you through the villages of the upper valley. Receptivity is the inner to the location and high altitude, for which reference should be made to the tourist offices of the territory that will target on the basis of structure types and budgets.