Val Grande Nature Reserve

“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.

Val Grande is not just interesting for its natural aspects, but also for its history and culture. There are clear traces of the presence of humans for thousands of years: petroglyphs, uninhabited mountain huts, fascinating tunnels dug out of the rock, terracings, small votive chapels, military fortifications and commemorative plaques in the Val Grande National Park become a long story of civilisation in these mountains.
Even those who are content to arrive on the threshold of the Val Grande National Park, stopping in one of the centres around its edges, are able to experience unique emotions.

There are numerous excursion trails with differing levels of difficulty in the Val Grande National Park, and they are constantly and carefully maintained: some accessible to everyone, albeit with due caution, others suited only to more expert mountaineers with the help of the park guides. Favourable climate conditions make spring, summer and the beginning of autumn the best periods of the year for visiting the Val Grande National Park area. Many attractions are arranged by the park’s management body throughout the year: festivals, summer camps for children, guided excursions and food and wine fairs, all completing the kaleidoscope of opportunities – and emotions – to be experienced in the Val Grande National Park.


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