- At a glance
- Locality & Walks
- Accommodation & Meals
- Travel options
Your Holiday at a Glance
|Independent Walking Holiday||
|Dates for 2020||
|Accommodation and Meals||
|What's not included||
Piedmont & Walks
Discover the secluded Maira Valley, an isolated region in Italy's Piedmont with beautifully preserved villages. This walk will take you back in time to how Alpine villages were 100 years ago, staying in welcoming auberges and B&Bs.
The Maira Valley in the Italian Piedmont suffered from a huge population exodus after the 2nd World War. Today the region has conserved its heritage with village houses built from stone and flamboyant frescos decorating the inside of churches and chapels and even inside some houses. Exploring these villages is like stepping back in time as you follow well-maintained paths between the villages, which were the main link between the communities 100 years ago. Today a number of auberges and B&Bs have been created to enable you to discover this unique legacy. In the Maira Valley, alongside Italian, the locals still speak Occitan. The welcome is generous and the cuisine exceptional.
5 days independent walking moving between guest houses. Three out of the five days have options to make the walking more challenging. The walks range between 4 to 7 hours according to your choice with an average of 4 hours 30 for the easier option and 6 hours for the more challenging option. The altitide gain ranges between 300 to 700m for the easier option whilst the more challenging option has a day with 1200m of ascent. Distances vary between 9 and 18km per day. On any given day you can decide to do either option. Walking is mainly on well-marked paths and sometimes on forestry tracks. On the harder option there are some steeper gradients and a rockier terrain to access ridges and summits.
Day 1: Arrival
Welcome in Dronero, Italy. This town marks the entrance to the Maira Valley in the Cozie Alps. This medieval town has an extraordinary architectural heritage made up of monuments, churches and noble houses. Explore its beautiful alleyways, squares, archways and bridges, which allow you to discover its roots and its traditions.
Day 2: Dronero - Santa Anna di Roccabruna (1252m)
Transfer by taxi (included in holiday price) to the village of Villar San Costanzo with its sanctuary and Ciciu, a site of strange natural erosion. The walk reaches another sanctuary and the the fountain of dell Asino at 1105m where the two options split.
Easier option via the Occitan balcony path and its perched hamlets: The trail reaches the houses at Arduini, and the hamlets of Oggero and Castello. A dirt path then leads to Rocca Castlas, a panoramic viewpoint and old tower. Continue between chestnut and conifers to reach Santa Anna di Roccabruna. 5hrs, 13.5km, +500m, -250m.
Harder option via the ridge of Monte San Bernardo (1625m) and the Colle della Ciabra (1712m): A wonderful option via the summit of Monte San Bernardo on a path which is steep in places. From the summit the 360 degree view extends from Mont Rosa to the Appennine mountains and the southern Alps. Superb traverse of the ridge to Colle della Ciabra and rapid descent to Santa Anna de Roccabruna. 7hrs 30, 12km, +980m, -500m.
Day 3: Santa Anna di Roccabruna - Pagliero (1023m)
Two options are possible on day 3:
Easier option via the Occitan balcony path and its perched hamlets: Pass through chestnut and pine forests inbetween exploring a number of small hamlets such as Saint-Chiaffredo, Roi, Mostiola, Molineri and Pagliero. At Pagliero it is worth visiting the church where inside you can admire the sculptures of the Zabreri brothers from the 15th century. The two brothers worked in the wider area but came from this hamlet. 3-4hrs, 10km, +200m, -450m.
It is possible to add 2 hours and 450m of altitude gain to the easier option by starting on the harder option (below) before re-joining the easy option to visit the hamlets.
Harder option via the ridges of Monte Bironne (2131m): Ascend towards Colle della Ciabra (1712m) and then follow a beautiful ridge trail to the summit of Monte Bironne (2131m), with exceptional panoramic views of the Alps. Long descent to Pagliero via Colle del Birrone. 7hrs, 18km, +1200m, -1300m.
Day 4: Pagliero - Camoglieres (978m)
Discover the beautiful hamlets of Scombe, Paolini and Fracchie, as well as San Bernardo chapel where you can admire the Middle Age frescos. There is a wonderful view of the village of Camoglieres and its cliffs. Depending on the accommodation available it is possible to reach the village of Macra via an old road, along which is Saint Pierre chapel and its 15th century paintings. 4hrs, 12km, +600m, -640m.
Day 5: Camoglieres - Stroppo Bassura (929m)
A historic path, today called the Cyclamen path allows you to access the hamlet of Langra. After a series of climbs and descents, sometimes steep, you'll reach the village of Centenero (1228m) and then Caudano (1131m) where you can discover the historic "Lazzareto" (quarantine building) dating from 1463 with its facade typical of the valley. The path continues to reach the beautiful Sampeyre church dating from the 13th century, before passing through the charming villages of Stroppo and Bassura, important stopovers on the valley route. 5hrs, 13km, +700m, -740m.
Day 6: Stroppo Bassura - Celle di Macra
Two options are possible on day 6:
Easier option via the path of the faithful and the hamlets of Celle di Macra. For this option you need to book a taxi transfer (not included in holiday price) from Bassura to Celle di Macra where you can explore its numerous hamlets via the path of the faithful. Numerous oratories, polyptych of Hans Klemer in Chiesa dating from 1496, and numerous chapels are all explored before descending to the village of Macra in the valley bottom. Transfer back to Dronero. 5hrs, 8km, +450m, -650m.
Harder option via the higher ground of Percorso Occitano: Today you'll cross the valley and climb through a pretty forest which leads you to Capella Madonna (1301m). The Percorso Occitano trail passes through the beautiful hamlets of Arramola, Maurengo, then Coletto (1414m) before descending to Celle di Macra via the path of the faithful. Transfer back to Dronero. 6hrs 30, 12km, +850m, -650m.
Holiday ends after your return to Dronero. It is possible to book an extra night.
Accommodation & Meals
5 nights in comfortable small auberges and B&Bs in private rooms for 2. Warm welcome and great local cuisine.
Make your own way to and from your hotel in Dronero. By train: Take train from Nice to Cuneo or from Paris to Milan via Turin. Local train Turin to Cuneo. Then regular bus service from Cuneo to Dronero.
Flights from French and UK airports to Nice Cote d'Azur airport. Operators from UK airports include Flybe, Easyjet & British Airways. Aéroport International Nice-Côte d'Azur is located 7km from the city centre. A taxi service runs from the airport to the city centre and takes approximately 20 minutes. Alternatively you can take a 10-15 minute bus journey from the airport to the town centre which runs every 30 minutes. The SNCF station is close to the town centre.