At the heart of the Valsesia district: the Monterosa Ski resort and Alagna
1. Three valleys for skiing enthusiasts
The area of the Monterosa Ski resort comprises the districts of Alagna, Gressoney, Champoluc and Antagnod, offering a total of 180 km of slopes between the Piedmont and Val d'Aosta regions.
Alagna is the wildest valley and the point of access to the most beautiful off-piste slopes in the Monte Rosa area. It is the right destination for those seeking strong emotional stimuli and an intact natural dimension.
You can explore the three adjoining Valsesia, Ayas and Gressoney districts without ever having to remove your skis. Once you have ascended to the highest point of the Punta Indren glacier (3,260 m a.s.l.) the three valleys will appear before you.
Besides numerous descents, the Monterosa Ski resort also offers the possibility to practice mountain and off-piste skiing, using climbing “skins” attached to your skis, especially between Alagna and Gressoney.
The most popular destination for those who practise freeriding is the Capanna Margherita, the highest mountain refuge hut in Europe, located at an altitude of 4,554 m. a.s.l. Other spectacular sites are the Corno Nero, Vincent Pyramid, Vetta Castore and Punta Giordani peaks, the summits of which rise to heights above 4,000 metres.
2. Alagna, a freerider's Paradise
Alpine excursions and mountain skiing, trekking, downhill skiing and heli-skiing: whatever your particular passion may be, you will find what you’re looking for in the Alagna district. However, freeriding enthusiasts in particular have made it what we may see as a real capital of this particular sport. By no mere chance it is known as the “Freeriding Paradise”.
The particular conformation of the valley - quite impervious but presenting numerous minor lateral valleys - ensures that your off-piste skiing sessions provide an exceptional experience in a majestic, ever-changing landscape.
The most spectacular routes are situated around the Punta Giordani peak and the Malfatta ridge but also in the Bors valley, where the Balma piste is located. Starting at Punta Indren or from the Passo dei Salati many different routes may be followed, such as the Passo del Diavolo, the Canale a “Y”, the Canale Longhez routes and various other options.
Would you like to try venturing beyond your limits? In that case the appropriate itinerary would be the Canale Perazzi with a pitch of 55 degrees. And for those who want to try heli-skiing the Cavallo, Turlo and Rizzetti trails will offer you an unforgettable experience.
3. The traditions of Alagna and the Walser settlement
Within the Alta Valsesia Nature Park, the highest protected reserve in Europe, Alagna is a treasure trove of old tales and tradition. The Monte Rosa massif overlooks the village, which preserves traces of the ancient Walser people who migrated here from Switzerland in the 13th century.
The language spoken by the Walsers was a variant of a Germanic dialect and normally referred to as “Titsch”. One of the oldest festivals held at Alagna, repeated every year on the first Sunday of October since 1683, is the Rosario Fiorito procession. This event, dedicated to the Holy Virgin Mary, was originally introduced by the Walser population. A museum installed in a very old traditional dwelling is entirely dedicated to the Walser folk and presents evidence of their long-lasting traditions.
4. The local cuisine at Alagna
After spending a morning skiing along various tracks you are likely to feel rather hungry, so why not treat yourself to a “pause gourmande” to refresh yourself, tasting some specialities of the local cuisine. You should certainly try walsechäis cheese, a traditional Walser product, and some shepherds' butter, typically produced in the summer months on the local pasture land.
Among the cured meats and salami you should certainly try a few slices of Chuawurst, a cured meat product produced with beef and seasoned with juniper, and also the Weißwurst goat salami. Don't forget to order a few pieces of mocetta, another locally-cured chamois meat product. You can accompany the meat with a serving of polenta concia (boiled cornmeal) and complete the meal with a torta Walser, a traditional oven-baked cake. The exquisite local wines, such as Nebbiolo di Gattinara, Ghemme and Erbaluce, are worth tasting.
5. The area surrounding Alagna: a trip outside the village
After spending a long time up on the snow and a very filling and tasty lunch you may want to go off on a relaxing trip somewhere. In the surrounding area you may decide to visit the Sacro Monte devotional complex overlooking the town of Varallo Sesia or the Mollia mill, the tiny village of Rassa with its small stone bridges and narrow alleyways, the villages of Rimella and Carcoforo and also Rimasco, situated beside a placid lake.