A stroll around Alagna
A stroll around Alagna
Typology: Itineraries in town
Outings on foot
Period advised: all year
Itinerary around the centre.
Pay a visit to the 16th-century Chiesa Parrocchiale di San Giovanni Battista (the baroque-style parish church of St. John the Baptist) which was built on the site of an older chapel dating back to 1511. Beside the church is the cemetery along the boundary walls of which tombstones have been arranged which bear engravings of dates and texts in German, a sign of the German lineage of the old Walser families. In the adjacent square is the fountain, built using large millstones originally from the old mine of Kreas. Following the route down takes you to the village of Pedelegno: amongst the houses there can still be seen the ancient ruins of a castle dating back to the 16th century. The horse-shoe shaped structure is still visible, and is today a private dwelling. In the next village of Giacomolo there is the house which belonged to the D'Enrico family, the birthplace of the famous artists and sculptors, amongst them Antonio also known as "Tanzio da Varallo". On the south-facing loggia there is the inscription "Allein Gott die Ehre" (Honour God alone). Also of great interest is the village of Resigawhere the old sawmill is situated which is driven by the water of the nearby Otro stream. Even the old bread oven is still in working order. The little village church is dedicated to Saint Antonio. In the following villages of Reale Inferiore and Superiore both the little church and also the bread ovens are perfectly preserved. In D'Ekku is a little higher up, and is in fact built on a moraine. The route takes its name from this fact.
Itinerary among the Higher Villages
The village of Dossois located on the brow of the slope towards Alagna. It is said that this village was originally located below Monte Torru (where traces of buildings are still visible). Destroyed by a rock-fall, it was then rebuilt in its present location. The tiny and charming church of Saint Anthony bears an inscription of 1610. The bread oven can be found alongside the church, and is still in use. The monolithic fountain bears the date 1627. The next village of Pianecan boast of a harmonious structural composition which is characteristic of the original Walser settlements. The monolithic basin of the village fountain bears the date 1620. Leaving from the little church, follow the path which leads alongside the mills and cuts across the hillside, taking you to the village of Rusa, where in the main square there are both the fountain, with the date 1744, and the bread oven. The little church of Saint John has been burgled on several occasions and the most valuable wood sculptures which made up part of the altar were stolen. 1406 is the date to be seen on one of the stone portals with architrave with guttae decoration. This seems to be the oldest date mentioned in connection with the houses of Alagna: probably the stone was recovered from a former building destroyed by an avalanche. The tour continues towards Goreto where the facade of the little church of St. James was frescoed by the Alagna painter Gnifetta; here we can see the date of 1687. Taking a closer look at these ancient houses, it becomes obvious how much intelligence and technical experience was employed in using wood to solve both structural and functional problems. The path which leads from the village into the beech woods is called La Romantica. Montella is located on a green terrace with a splendid view over the area. The tiny church is dedicated to Saint Peter. The village below is called Casa Porazzo where the recently-restored bread oven is the protagonist of the increasingly well-known Festa del Pane (Festival of Bread) every November: on these occasions the oven is lit at night as in times gone by and demonstrates the old procedure of bread-baking with an overnight method for allowing the dough to rise.
Itinerary among the Lower Villages
The village of Ponteis situated north of Alagna, on the left-hand side of the mountain and can be reached by crossing a bridge. In 1819 the whole village was destroyed by a fire. After having been rebuilt, another 3 houses were carried away by floods in 1948. At the southern end of the village there is the old oven, now unused. The settlement of Pedemonte with both its individual houses and with its inhabited complex demonstrates a remarkable harmony of structure. The heart of the characteristic village is the gracious internal square where the village fountain and the two monolithic basins dated 1540 and 1557 dominate. At the side is the Walser Museum, a typical Walser house preserved in its original condition where inside you can marvel at the antique agricultural tools and utensils for the home, and travel back in time to the lifestyle and social-economic organisation of the Walser population. The little church dedicated to Saint Nicholas was swept away by floods. Ronco is built on the steep slopes above Pedemonte: a typical example of Alpine building, the houses are arranged in steps so that each house can enjoy major exposure to the sun. At the centre of the village there are the fountain and oven. Above Ronco is Ronco Superiore where in one of the houses the fireplace is still preserved in the middle of the kitchen, next door is the stall; the hayloft-granary, which was further inside, stands on low wooden feet keeping it off the ground. These characteristics confirm the hypothesis that Ronco is the oldest village belonging to Alagna. In fact, in almost all of the rural Walser houses around Alagna, the fireplace was moved to the outside and the warmth was carried into the house by a stone oven. Uterio and San Nicolao can be reached from Pedemonte crossing the bridge over Rio Mud. Lower down, below the houses of Uterio, two ancient little mills have been rebuilt; and also, towards the river, the bread oven can be found, still in use today. From San Nicolao the path continues upwards in the direction of Merletti. This village is divided into Inferiore, situated on the left of the track and Superiore, higher up in the direction of the feldspar quarry.