A slow tour from Riomaggiore to Manarola and Monesteroli
Val Grande National Park
A wonder of nature along Lake Maggiore
by Stefania Palamara.
I live on the border of the natural area Val Grande National Park, a place to explore and a touristic destination for travellers who love peace and discoveries. A wonder of nature along Lake Maggiore to the mountains Ossola, near Swiss. A fabulous itinerary, mysterious and wild. This wonderful trail is ideal for those who want to be in contact with wild nature.
Val Grande National Park is a unique valley, lost in space and time, where the silence rules and nature reigns. An environmental sanctuary that commands absolute respect from its visitors.
Val Grande means also history, the deep-rooted and secular mountain civilization narrated by places and people of the valley, and the villages located within its territory. An area shared between Ossola Valley and Verbano, Vigezzo Valley (called “the valley of the painters” for the historical presence of many painters), Valle Intrasca and Val Cannobina.
You should venture through the hamlets or villages that ring the edges of this wild and untamed land. We stop in Vogogna, major town of the lower Ossola Valley, nowadays a small medieval village, with an extraordinary Medieval Castle. The castle is a testimony of an ancient military architecture, indispensable for the defense of the local populations from bordering Swiss. During my work experience at the Castle, in spring and summer, I met a lot of visitors from England, Holland, Germany, France, Ireland, USA…
The paths through the Park are many and varied: you can follow some nature trails that combine the beauty of the landscape to cultural and historical aspects. Feel the millenary presence of man through petroglyphs, abandoned huts, course dug in the rock. You also can meet chamois, deer, foxes, badgers… and take a picture with them… Here man and nature are indivisible!
The exuberance of nature with the variety of its flora is one of the Park’s main attractions. This heritage is due in part to the particular climatic conditions that exist here, and to the thermal influences of Lake Maggiore.
Moving us in the southern part of the Park, towards the lake, the woods are a mix of broadleaf trees with chestnuts predominating; while alder, willow and ash trees abound along the S. Bernardino torrent. We also find the quarries of Candoglia which provided marble for the Duomo of Milan for over six centuries.
What could be better than sitting at the table, after walking for so long? You can choose to stop by to enjoy some lake specialties, like lake fish. Or you can move towards the pastures where cows and goats graze in the open air to taste some good cheese, or savor typical meats obtained from meat processing. Potato dumpling, cornmeal mush with game meat. The wine goes perfectly with our dishes!
Are you ready to continue the journey? I hope so!
I have other stories to tell you and different paths to suggest you to explore…
Main picture courtesy of Flickr User Febs