hiking

Via dell'Arbola - Via Albrun

da Baceno a Mühlebach (CH) (44,25 km)
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Highlights and tour details

The ancient road that led from the Ossola valley floor to Valle di Binn and thus to inner Switzerland through the Arbola or Albrunpass (2409 m), is very significant for the history of transiting through the Alps. Arbola is the lowest and easiest pass in the Lepontine Alps, second only to the Sempione on the Ossola mountains. Instead, the Boccareccio, the Cornera and the Rossa Pass are made difficult by imposing rock ramparts that make it difficult for people to access and impossible for pack animals. The paved Arbola mule track allowed long convoys of pack animals loaded with goods, to transit across the Alps. The Lepontine Alps, not far from the Gotthard, from which rivers are created and flow down in the direction of the four winds, were always a fundamental orographic junction in the Alpine road network: the Arbola leads to Binntal, the Gries leads to Hasli and then to the Oberland, Passo San Giacomo (the "Valdolgia mountain") leads to Airolo and Ticino. For many centuries, the "strada Antigorio" to Baceno, Devero and Arbola (the "lower pass" to distinguish it from the upper or "glacier pass" made up of the Gries) was the main commercial arterial road between the Valais and Lombardy. So much so that even ancient maps define the Arbola as a "pass towards Lombardy" (Pass gegen Lombardy, Sebastian Munster, 1550) or "pass to Milan" (Pass auf Mailand, Gabriel Walser, 1768). In the centuries of the Middle Ages, when men began to cross the high Alpine passes to exchange goods and ideas, the stops at Baceno and Ernen grew in importance. The villages at the foot of the pass (Baceno, Binn, Ernen) are considered by historians as "pass settlements" where the trade function was combined with the pastoral one. Until the 13th and 14th centuries, when the gorges of Gondo on the Sempione were equipped with wooden footbridges anchored with chains to the rock, the Passo d’Arbola was the "gateway to Lombardy": wheat and wine, silks and spices went up North from the East; salt, cheese and cattle went down to the South. Dynasties of merchants grew up in Baceno and Croveo and travelled through Alpine Europe, also taking smuggled salt from the mines of Hall, near Salzburg, to the market of Ernen through the "transversal route" of Passo San Giacomo, Scatta Minoia and Bocchetta d'Arbola. They developed a branched network of transalpine relations with the Swiss cantons of Uri and Unterwalden. They crossed the high passes and owned meadows and pastures to feed their herds bought in Switzerland and to be sold at the Lombard markets. They also owned cellars where they stored wine and cheese. The route of the ancient Via dell'Arbola - Via Albrun is one of the Cultural Routes of regional interest in Switzerland.

Tappe
Points of interest

A historic route through the Alpe Veglia and Alpe Devero Nature Park and the neighbouring Binn Valley Nature Park (Landschaftspark Binntal). Every year on the first Saturday in August, the people of Baceno and Binn meet at the Bocchetta d'Arbola to renew the centuries-old friendship and collaboration between the two communities.

Support points

Croveo: Lodging house, B&B and trattoria. Crampiolo: Lodging house, restaurants, Agritourism, B&B. Just below Bocchetta d'Arbola, in Swiss territory, is the Binntalhutte 

Accesso

Follow the A26 motorway to Gravellona Toce and then Superstrada SS33 del Sempione to the exit for Valle ANTIGORIO FORMAZZA. Then follow the main road 659 to Baceno.

Other information

Itinerary code: ARB
Phone coverage: Good
Recommended period: June, July, Auguat, September
Historical interest: Yes
Access by public transport: Yes
Classification: Medium and low mountain provincial
Provinces crossed: Distretto dei Laghi

Notes on public transport
The railway station of reference is Domodossola. All the buses for the valleys depart in front of the station. You take the Domodossola – Cascata del Toce line (for timetables Tel. +39 0324 240333 www.comazzibus.com) to Baceno. Baceno and Alpe Devero are connected with the Prontobus service (Tel. +39 349 0796016) From Furgangen it is possible to return to Briga and then to Domodossola (www.sbb.ch) For the upper part of the valley of Binn from Brunnebiel to Binn there is the Alpin bus service (www.busalpin.ch). Binn and Ernen can be reached by bus (www.postauto.ch)
Departure, arrival and municipalities crossed
Departure
Baceno
28861 Baceno (VB)
Verbano-Cusio-Ossola
see on map
Arrival
Mülebach – Furgangen
Mühlebach (CH) (CH)
Chieti
see on map
Links
http://www.areeprotetteossola.it/it/itinerari/nuove-escursioni/vie-storiche/item/809-via-arbola-o-via-albrun

Accommodations and services

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Albergo Ristorante Cuccini
Verbano-Cusio-Ossola | Hotels and tourist residences
Albergo Ristorante Cuccini
A family environment where the simplicity of wood floors, pastel shades and pine furniture reigns supreme. A place where you can rediscover the pleasure of a holiday in a setting dominated by the solemn grandeur of nature. 23 rooms of various standard and deluxe types. We offer single, double, and …
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Hotel La Vetta
Verbano-Cusio-Ossola | Hotels and tourist residences
Hotel La Vetta
Hotel La Vetta, in San Domenico di Varzo, in Piedmont, is the perfect refuge for an escape from the city: here to regenerate simply fill your eyes and heart with nature, mountain and pure air. The facility, inaugurated for the first time in December 2018, offers 77 finely furnished rooms, a …
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La Beula
Verbano-Cusio-Ossola | Bed & Breakfast
La Beula
“LA BEULA” B&B is located in Beola di Croveo, at 800 m a.s.l, a small hamlet of Baceno in the province of Verbania, at the foot of Mount Cistella, famous for its mysterious witch nights. It is 10 km from the ALPE DEVERO Natural Park, 5 km from the TERME DI PREMIA (SPA CENTRE) and just 30 …
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La Madonnina
Verbano-Cusio-Ossola | Bed & Breakfast
La Madonnina
In the centre of Valdossola, in a dominant position overlooking the Antigorio valley at 825 m above sea level, B&B La Madonnina offers three bedrooms with private bathrooms in an Art Nouveau villa with a completely renovated garden.
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Le Primule
Verbano-Cusio-Ossola | Holiday Houses and Apartments
Le Primule
Relais Le Primule Holiday Home offers a totally relaxing stay in a natural setting of extreme beauty and serenity. The closeness of the Premia Spa facility with wellness centre, combined with the infinite natural beauties of the territory, will be the added value to your unforgettable stay. Our …
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Locanda del Sasso Rooms
Verbano-Cusio-Ossola | Rooms to let
Locanda del Sasso Rooms
If you are looking for tranquillity in contact with nature then look no further. The new lodgings of Locanda del Sasso have the charm and unmistakable style that sets us apart. There are three lodgings tailored to all needs, of couples and families. Two mini apartments to suit from 2 to 6 guests …
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Piodahaus
Verbano-Cusio-Ossola | Bed & Breakfast
Piodahaus
Carve out a dream corner in the heart of the Antigorio Valley, immersed in the Lepontine Alps, stress-free, where Alice looks forward to welcoming you to her B&B that she has lovingly renovated, reinterpreting the traditional local architecture in a fresh and contemporary way, inside a romantic …
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Rifugio 2000
Verbano-Cusio-Ossola | Mountain Refuges, Excursion Refuges and Bivouacs
Rifugio 2000
Situated in Alp Ciamporino, Rifugio 2000 boasts a restaurant, a terrace and free Wi-Fi connection in the common areas. All the rooms avail of air conditioning, wardrobe, parquet floors and shared bathroom. In the morning, guests can enjoy an Italian style breakfast based on hot beverages, …
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Rifugio Crosta Pietro
Verbano-Cusio-Ossola | Mountain Refuges, Excursion Refuges and Bivouacs
Rifugio Crosta Pietro
The Pietro Crosta Refuge, belonging to C.A.I. of Gallarate, is located in the Alpe Solcio of Varzo, at the border of the Natural Park of Alpe Veglia and Alpe Devero. It is located on the Altavia della Valle Divedro and is one of the best loved destinations for excursions and trekking in Val …
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Rifugio Monte Zeus
Verbano-Cusio-Ossola | Mountain Refuges, Excursion Refuges and Bivouacs
Rifugio Monte Zeus
The refuge is an early 19th century construction made from wood and Ossola stone, used initially as a school; in 1998, it underwent major renovation work.
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Zum Gora
Verbano-Cusio-Ossola | Mountain Refuges, Excursion Refuges and Bivouacs
Zum Gora
Rifugio Zum Gora is located in the ancient village of Salecchio Superiore, founded by Walser settlers in the 13th century. It is a beautifully renovated and very cosy Walser cottage. It offers a typical Ossola cuisine, small rooms with 3 to 6 beds, bathroom with shower, solarium, panoramic terrace …
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