The origins of mountaineering amidst nature
The Torinese Alps have something for every outdoor enthusiast: from cycle tourism to walking holidays, to simple walks in the countryside with the family. As soon as you leave the city you will also be able to discover all the flavours of the area: from cheeses to fruit, from vegetables to desserts, not to mention wines such as the Canavese DOCG and the Pinerolese, Susa Valley and Collina Torinese DOC wines.
Wherever you decide to go, it won’t take you more than an hour and a half by car from Torino to reach one of the valleys of the Torinese Alps offering numerous outdoor activities amidst nature.
The bond that unites Italy and France is strong in the Torinese Alps. Coming from the south, the first valleys you come across are the Pellice, Germanasca and Chisone valleys, the perfect destination for trekking and mountain biking enthusiasts and for places to enjoy the typical cuisine and learn about the history of the Waldensians, the religious community of the followers of Waldo, a 12th-century merchant from Lyon who lived in these valleys in the Middle Ages and was an adherent of the Protestant reform. Continuing north you reach the Upper Susa Valley and Chisone Valley, which hosted the Torino 2006 XX Olympic Winter Games, along with Bardonecchia, Cesana-Sansicario, Clavière, Pragelato, Sauze d'Oulx and Sestriere, all ideal destinations for outdoor sports enthusiasts. For lovers of camino trails, the Susa Valley is part of a pilgrimage route over 2,000 km long that goes from Mont Saint-Michel in France to Monte Sant'Angelo in Puglia, and is also on a variant of the well-known Via Francigena which goes from Canterbury to Rome.
The next valleys you come across are the Lanzo Valleys (Grande, Viù and Ala) and the Ceronda and Casternone Valleys. Surrounded by some of the most beautiful peaks in Piemonte, these valleys offer pristine landscapes and unspoiled nature where hiking can be practiced all year round. The main villages are Usseglio, Ala di Stura, Chialamberto, Groscavallo and Balme, where, thanks to the first mountain guides, Italian mountaineering was born. Above Balme, at 1,800 m, the stunning Pian della Mussa is well worth a visit. It is rich in spring waters which supply the Torinese aqueduct, and nestles against a backdrop of the peaks of the Bessanese and Ciamarella mountains, well known to mountaineers and rock climbers. Continuing north, you reach the Canavese Valleys, with the Orco Valley, the Soana Valley and the Chiusella Valley. The Orco Valley and the Soana Valley constitute the Piemontese side of the Gran Paradiso National Park, rich in typical alpine environments with glaciers, rocks, larch and fir woods and an abundant wildlife, symbolised by the Alpine ibex. It was the first park to be founded in Italy in 1922 in the area around the Gran Paradiso, the only peak above 4,000 m located entirely in Italy, across an area of over 70,000 hectares between the Aosta Valley and the Canavese.
This area is crossed by the Morainic-Canavese section of the Via Francigena. From Ceresole you can go 2,600 metres up the Colle del Nivolet, a watershed between the Orco Valley and the village of Valsavarenche (Aosta Valley), skirting two artificial lakes, the Serrù and the Agnel.