Highlights and tour details
The "Strada Antronesca" runs entirely through Valle Antrona, known, among the Ossola valleys, as the "iron valley" for the numerous mines to which the formation, in the 19th century, of the iron and steel centre of Villadossola is linked. Long caravans of mules and donkeys transported iron to Villadossola, which was the main centre for the iron trade. The goodness of the Antronese metal was known everywhere and was also exported to Switzerland. The "Strada Antronesca" was therefore once used to pass through from Valle Antrona into Valle di Saas, over the Antrona or Saas Pass (2883 m) and thus as one of the main links between the Ossola and the Valais, connecting Villadossola with Visp. This road never reached the importance of that of the Sempione, protected by the governments of the State of Milan and Valais and served by an important corporation of Someggiatori (mule-train traders). The main problem was of course maintenance, since mountain roads are the most subject to deterioration due to avalanches, landslides and rockfalls. The fact that in the 16th century the annual cattle fair was brought to Villadossola instead of Macugnaga, suggests that this road was kept efficient in the 15th and 16th centuries. This situation, characterised by the presence of multiple passes that could be used by commercial traffic, remained active until the 18th century, when it was changed by the opening of the Napoleonic road which, through the Passo del Sempione, reached Geneva and then the heart of Europe. The supremacy of the Sempione had already emerged in the seventeenth century at the time of the Val Divedro mule track along which the salt trade passed by the Valais nobleman Kaspar Stockalper, "Le roi du Simplon". On 6 October 1996 the first section of the "Strada Antronesca", restored by the CAI section of Villadossola, was inaugurated and on 17 August 1997 the second section from Antrona to Saas Almagel. Since 2010 this route has been included in the Interreg VETTA "Strategic" project. A new era begins for the "Strada Antronesca" that of "Cultural Hiking".
Points of interest
You cross the Alta Valle Antrona Natural Park
By car: A8 motorway from Milan or A4 motorway from Torino and continuation on A26 motorway for Gravellona Toce. Continue on SS33 del Sempione to the Villadossola exit.
Itinerary code: ANT
Phone coverage: Good in the first stage, from scarce to absent in the second stage, Swiss signal in the third stage.
Recommended period: July, August, September
Historical interest: Yes
Access by public transport: Yes
Classification: Medium and low mountain provincial
Provinces crossed: Distretto dei Laghi