“It is not just a kaleidoscope of nature, but an exceptional open-air museum of mountain culture.” The words of Teresio Valsesia, journalist, writer and celebrator of the Ossola mountains, are perfect to introduce the Val Grande which, after years of ups and downs and hard work to achieve a detailed form of protection, became a National Park in 1992.
Val Grande National Park, the largest wilderness area in Italy, covers approximately 15,000 hectares of land, enclosed between Lake Maggiore, Val Cannobina and Ossola Valley. The rugged and rocky mountains have always protected the environmental integrity of this splendid part of Ossola Valley, guaranteed by the difficulty of accessing the park: in fact, there are few mountain passes that can be crossed on foot (in the past used by shepherds and woodmen) and that can give access to this “world outside the world”, as Valsesia defines it, now an uninhabited and unspoilt realm of wild nature, a true environmental sanctuary.
The Val Grande National Park, due to the wide range of vegetation and variety of the flowers that bloom there, is a mine of biodiversity: chestnut and beech woods are alternated by decidedly rarer species like the Alpine Columbine and the Alpine Tulip. There are many species of protected fauna in the Park: it is easy to spot chamois, red deer, foxes, badgers, marmots, stone martens, hedgehogs, dormice and squirrels, but black grouse and golden eagles can also be seen. Trout, due to the purity of the waters flowing in the Val Grande Park, enjoy an ideal habitat, as do frogs and adders.
Pedum, Proman, Corni di Nibbio, Cima Sasso and Cima Laurasca are some of the best known mountains in the Val Grande Park: all composed of very dark green or blackish rocks, that are extremely hard and resistant to weathering, over the years they have become unmistakable symbols – and profiles – of this wild area.