Val Grande National Park - Piedmont

Val Grande National Park - Piedmont


The Val Grande National Park is located in the province of Novara (Piedmont) and was established by Ministerial Decree of 2 March 1992 and is the classic example of an uninhabited area, where flora and fauna are the absolute masters.

Here, in 1971, the first Italian integral reserve was established, now included in the park.

The peculiarity of the Val Grande is that it has not always been uninhabited; in fact, up to a century ago, the territory of the Park has undergone occupation and exploitation by man. The marble was extracted from the quarries of the Val Grande for the construction of the Milan Cathedral, the forests have undergone the removal of large quantities of wood used for the construction of many buildings in the Lombard capital.

The total area of ​​the park is 12,210 hectares.

Val Grande National Park

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12 #PiemonteStories: from Mergozzo to the Val Grande National Park

Orange Flag of the Italian Touring Club, Mergozzo it is a small jewel nestled on the shores of its clear lake, in the peaceful atmosphere of the ancient houses and cobbled paths. For centuries this has been a land of stone: in the local Ecomuseum of Granite you can discover the exhibition dedicated to the quarrymen and stonecutters of the Montorfano granite and pink Candoglia marble quarries, also used for the construction of the Milan Cathedral. In the Groppole area, the important megalithic complex known as Ca 'd’la Norma, dating back to the Copper and Bronze Ages. Half an hour by car, Aurano offers trekking enthusiasts a very particular panoramic itinerary, along a stretch of the stone defensive system of the Cadorna lineof the First World War in the same area, "Lake Maggiore Zipline"Instead proposes an exciting" flight "on a steel cable 1850 meters long, 350 meters above the ground, to feel like a swooping hawk. Going up the Ossola Valley, dominated by the "Himalayan" east wall of Monte Rosahere Vogogna, one of the 14 most beautiful Piedmontese villages in Italy, surrounded by greenery and with rich historical evidence, including the Visconteo castle: we are at the gates of the Val Grande National Park, the largest wilderness area in Italy to be explored well trained and with expert guides. TO Domodossola one cannot fail to visit the Sacred Mount Calvary, 12 chapels and a decorative apparatus of statues and frescoes, founded in 1656 and included in the list of the sacred alpine mountains, a UNESCO heritage in 2003. A trip to the Vigezzina-Centovalli railway which crosses the Vigezzo Valley and the Centovalli along a route of 52 km with spectacular views and panoramic views.

To visit a Santa Maria Maggiore, the Chimney Sweep Museum, which tells the story of the inhabitants of Vigezzo - often children - who until the last century left their homes and families to practice the hard trade in Holland and Germany, and the parish church with its valuable paintings. From here, it is said, in the eighteenth century the "father of modern perfumery" Giovanni Maria Farina, who created Cologne Water in Germany: "My perfume is like an Italian spring morning after the rain - he wrote - remembers the oranges, lemons, grapefruits, bergamots, cedars, flowers and aromatic herbs of my landBut not only: in the hamlet of Zornasco di Malesco, near the Ecomuseum of soapstone and stonemasons, the Mill "dul Tacc"reveals the secrets of an oil mill once used for the hemp fiber for sheets and shirts, yet another curiosity: inside the municipal wash house, a small exhibition recalls a famous fellow citizen: Giovan Maria Salati, the first man to have crossed the Swimming sleeve in 1817, during a daring escape from a floating prison.

The Ossola Valleys preserve precious traditional products, such as Goat cheese from Val Grande, Ossola cheese, Bresaola and Mortadella from Ossola (actually a salami produced with raw pork meat to which a small percentage of raw liver is added), the Prosciutto della Val Vigezzo and the goat violin to accompany with the black bread from Coimo, once produced with buckwheat flour and today with wholemeal rye flour.

Val Grande National Park: itineraries and excursions

The Val Grande National Park offers dozens of trekking routes suitable for every technical preparation

How easy it is to guess the Val Grande National Park it should be visited mainly on foot and that is why inside the official site of the area you will find dozens and dozens of itinerari, classified according to travel time, at difficulty and to the different ones beauties that characterize them: we go from those expressly dedicated to panoramas to those dedicated to lovers of geology, passing through those dedicated to History, Art and Culture and those characterized by a noteworthy animal / vegetable presence.

From this point of view, the park is a real jewel, with nature having literally regained possession of the territory at least since the Second World War. Today, its forest is young (average height anything but high) but rich and it is the chestnut, beech and hazelnut. It is then impossible to summarize in a few lines the hundreds of animal species that populate it: let's go mammals with roe deer, chamois, wolves and wild boars, garlic birds (golden eagle and peregrine falcon are probably the most sought after by enthusiasts), passing through rodents, fish, reptiles and even insects.

In addition to the itineraries mentioned above, the Val Grande National Park also presents two decidedly more challenging routes, expressly dedicated to those who literally want to immerse themselves in its wildest areas: we are talking about the so-called "Crossings", that is, paths that require experience and training and that will take you to spend the night in nature. The first crossing available is the one that goes from Cicogna to Finero and employs about 7 hours of distance, the second the one that goes from Malesco to Colloro and can employ up to 12 hours of travel.

That said, don't think the Val Grande National Park is only nature in the wildest and most uncontaminated state: inside there are in fact several bivouacs where to stop and refresh, open practically throughout the year. Structures to which they must be added 4 shelters real, which however are positioned at the edge of the park and that, above all, you will find open only during the summer.

The history of the Park

The Val Grande, enclosed between the Ossola mountains, the basin of Lake Maggiore and the Cannobina Valley, has seen the presence of shepherds since at least the 13th century. and, from the 15th century, also of woodcutters.
With the end of the Second World War, woodcutters and mountaineers left the valley and the forest regained the upper hand.
In the space of 50 years the Val Grande has taken on such an impervious and wild aspect that in 1983 it was identified by the Italian Association for Wilderness as one of the most interesting areas of the sector on an international level.
The idea of ​​establishing a park, however, dates back to 1953 and was then supported by sen. Raffaele Cadorna and the Hon. Christmas Menotti.

The idea was revived in 1963 by Professor Mario Pavan of the University of Pavia.
The State Forestry Company established, in 1971, after purchasing many municipal and private properties, the Pedum Integral Nature Reserve and the Mottac Oriented Nature Reserve, for a total area of ​​approximately 3,400 hectares.

In 1974, in the program of the Novara section of Italia Nostra, an articulated proposal for the establishment of a "Natural Park of Val Grande" appears, which should also include the Cannobina Valley and reach the state border between Italy and Switzerland. The extension of this park to Swiss territory was hoped for. The project was published in "Val Grande natural park" (edited by T. Valsesia) in the magazine "Novara" published by the CCIA of Novara. The year before, Robi Ronza had promoted the establishment of an "inter-regional park of the Val Grande di Cossogno" ("Cooperare", Milan, June 1973).

In 1982, the regional councilor Nino Carazzoni presented a legislative proposal for "the establishment of a natural park in the Val Grande". In this period the Italian Wilderness Association, in the person of its president, Franco Zunino, argued, at an international level, that it was necessary to safeguard the Val Grande as a Wilderness area.
In the book "Val Grande, last Paradise", published in 1985, Teresio Valsesia took up the idea of ​​the Park.

Also in 1985, on the occasion of the conference on integrated tourism, organized by the Verbano-Cusio-Ossola District and held in Verbania, the administrators of the Valley took up the initiative to establish the park, and precisely a national park.

In 1987, with the conference "Val Grande, the last Paradise", organized by local authorities, a promoting committee was set up for the establishment of the park, made up of municipalities, mountain communities, the Piedmont Region and environmental associations, which gave birth to a joint ministerial commission.
It took five years to achieve the goal. In this period the interest of the then environment minister Giorgio Ruffolo, the president of the environment commission and the regional councilors for parks Bianca Vetrino and Enrico Nerviani was important and decisive. On 4 December 1989 a decree of the Ministry of the Environment identified Val Grande as an area of ​​international naturalistic importance.
Based on the law n. 394 of 1991 The Val Grande National Park was established on 2 March 1992 by the Minister of the Environment Valdo Spini on the territory of the following municipalities: Beura Cardezza, Caprezzo, Cossogno, Cursolo Orasso, Intragna, Malesco, Miazzina, Premosello Chiovenda, San Bernardino Verbano, Santa Maria Maggiore, Trontano.

On November 23, 1993, with a decree of the President of the Republic, the Park management body was born. After the appointment, in February 1994, of Franca Olmi to the presidency of the Park, the Park Authority took office on May 16, 1994.

It still remains one of the best places where, for a few hours (or days), immersed in nature, you can "disconnect" from the daily routine.

They can still be found, in Valgrande and in the immediate surroundings (despite the increased attendance of the area), for those who want to "get out" from the usual routes (with due caution), some areas of uncomfortable and tiring access where, often in complete solitude, you can experience moments and sensations unique.

WEATHER forecasts for Valgrande : MeteoSwiss
(The Swiss weather forecasts for the south of the Alps are generally the most reliable for "our" area)

What to visit in the mountains VAL GRANDE NATIONAL PARK

Enclosed between the Ossola mountains, the Lake Maggiore basin and the Cannobina Valley, the Val Grande National Park it has seen the presence of shepherds at least since the 13th century, only to be abandoned at the end of the Second World War. From that moment the wood took over and in the space of 50 years gave the valley a rough and wild aspect to make it become one of the "wilderness" areas the most interesting internationally and the largest in Italy: an uncontaminated territory of mountains and valleys with places of charm and mystery between canyons, cliffs, dense woods and breathtaking views.

However, the historical and cultural aspect joins the naturalistic interest: many sites retain traces of the millennial presence of man such as rock carvings, abandoned huts, terraces, votive chapels, military fortifications such as the "Cadorna Line”And commemorative plaques.
In the southern part of the valley are the Candoglia quarries which for centuries have provided the marble for the Milan Cathedral. Over the centuries, the same valley was a privileged place for mining.

From the 2013 the Val Grande National Park has become part of the worldwide network of geo-parks protected by UNESCO and got the CETS (European Charter for Sustainable Tourism).

Video: The oldest high street in the Alps.. is in Val Grande! Trekking, Sentiero Bove integral.