Exploring Val Grande - Itinerario 2
Typology: Itineraries in Valsesia
Exploring Val Grande: nature, culture, and sports along the Sesia River
Following the Sesia River from Varallo to the slopes of Monte Rosa, you cross the largest of the valleys of Valsesia, renowned not only for the extraordinary historical and artistic heritage of the small towns that populate it but also for the incomparable beauty of the alpine landscape in which it is immersed. With this itinerary, you may discover the first part of Val Grande: an extraordinary journey through charming alpine villages, natural beauty, and locations that outdoor sports enthusiasts cannot do without.
1 Sesia River
The Sesia River originates from the glaciers of Monte Rosa, at an altitude of more than 2000 meters. Its water and rivulets and streams flowing in it descend steeply along the entire Valsesia, creating a charming scenery of extraordinary beauty. In the past the river that flows close to small and charming mountain villages was of vital importance to the inhabitants of the valley to power up their mills, sawmills, and furnaces while now it offers water sports enthusiasts over 100 km of natural gym: from canoeing to kayaking, river rafting and even riverboarding. In the summer season, along the banks of the Sesia river is possible to spend pleasant moments of relaxation reaching through ancient and scenic bridges, such as the suspension bridge of Morca, natural coves with emerald waters.
2 Scopello and Alpe di Mera
Surrounded by beautiful peaks and in the middle of a vast basin overlooked by the Sesia River, Scopello is known as the most important tourist center of the middle valley. The village, an ideal place for a family vacation, offers in any season countless opportunities to practice outdoor activities: from trekking to water sports in summer and snowshoeing and skiing in winter. Alpe di Mera is a charming and sunny destination with a fantastic view of Monte Rosa. It is also easily reachable from the village on foot, by chairlift or by car. For skiing fans, Alpe di Mera offers in winter ski runs located on gentle ridges and are suitable for everyone, especially for families, while in summer offers a well-equipped playground for children and pleasant excursions on foot or mountain bike.
Renowned for the production of aromatic grappa and for the blueberry festival, it is a picturesque village located at the confluence of the Gronda and Sorba streams, which give their name to two side-valleys of unspoiled beauty. In the small town, in the past full of furnaces and water-powered sawmills, it is possible to visit the eco-museum of wood, located in Rassa. The Brasei sawmill, an excellent example of a water-powered sawmill, is still in operation. From the village you can admire the famous Calva wall, one of the most significant climbing sites in Valsesia, on top of which you can find Pian dei Gàzzari. On this plateau, in the first decades of the fourteenth century, the heretic Fra' Dolcino and his followers found refuge before escaping towards Biella.
Located on the banks of the Sesia River, at the point where the valley narrows, Mollia is a pretty town made up of small clusters of houses that rise up behind the mountains. After a visit to the parish church of San Giovanni Battista flanked by an arcade beautifully frescoed with images of the Way of the Cross, we recommend a visit to the ancient Fucina Mill, one of the most interesting places of the eco-museum of Valsesia, and one of the few still visible examples of "factory of the seventeenth century". You do not want to miss the loop trail of the hamlets of Mollia. This pleasant route travels through the 10 hamlets surrounding the inhabited area, very interesting from a historical and cultural point of view and with truly enchanting landscapes.
6 The bicycle and pedestrian trails of Valsesia
Valsesia offers MTB and trekking fans a variety of trails immersed in extraordinary natural surroundings where sports activities go side by side with cultural visits and delicious food and wine stops. In this regard, we recommend following the stops of route No. 1 of the bicycle and pedestrian trails of Valsesia (PCV) that connects Balmuccia with Alagna. Along the route, you will find small cultural jewels such as the oldest church of Valgrande in Scopa, incredible natural attractions such as the outcrops of the Insubric line (the contact area of the European and African plates) in Scopetta. You can taste genuine local delicacies, such as the Valsesian cheeses in Piode. For those looking for more exciting trails, we recommend one of the many PCV trails that depart from Alpe di Mera.
A trekking experience not to be missed:
The Art Trail: Campertogno - Alpe Argnaccia - From Campertogno follow trail No. 278 towards Alpe Argnaccia/Cangello.
Scopello - Alpe di Mera - From Scopello follow trail No.236 towards Mera
Mollia Hamlets - From Mollia follow path No. 282 towards Curgo
From Milan and Turin: from the A4 take the A26 junction in Biandrate, towards Gravellona Toce and exit at the Romagnano S.- Ghemme highway tollbooth. From the highway tollbooth take the SP299 "Strada della Valsesia" provincial road towards Varallo-Alagna. After Varallo, continue towards Alagna.