The Monte Rosa sits in this third part of the Strà Granda, with its Himalayan wall amplifying the already great beauty of the route. In the first stretch, as far as Alpe Bill, you walk on a comfortable mule track in a beautiful pine forest, with constant panoramic views of Monte Rosa. Once you reach Alpe Bill, the trail overlaps in some sections with the old Walser mule track that crosses the Monte Moro Pass and leads to the Valle di Saas. You reach the Oberto Maroli Refuge, just below the pass, climbing to the top station of the cable car and the characteristic statue of the Madonna located just above the crystal clear Lago Smeraldo, which mirrors the spectacular east wall of Monte Rosa.
Hiking – Strà Granda: from Macugnaga to the Monte Moro Pass
In 1553, Anzasca Valley was visited by nobleman Joachim de Annono, an official of the Spanish governor of Milan and a man of power, who came to verify whether the inhabitants of the valley were able to pay the exorbitant Mensuale tax. He remained in Anzasca Valley for 14 days and on his return drew up a precise and documented report: it’s the first description of the Strà Granda that links Piedimulera to Macugnaga and then climbs up the mountain ridge of Monte Moro and leads into the Valle di Saas.
The Strà Granda is still passable today, following in Joachim de Annono’s footsteps 400 years later. The valley’s history has been passed down through this worn pavement. Not Great History, but the humble and hidden history of smugglers going to Switzerland or of valley dwellers who went down to Vogogna market to get their supplies of grain. The shiny pavement of each bend has witnessed furious village wars and the passage of loads of gold descending to the cities.
Walking on the Strà Granda in Anzasca Valley means travelling back in time: you’ll find oratories, recesses in the walls to load mules, ancient coats of arms, community ovens, community presses, mills and millstones.
Along the road that goes up to Macugnaga, between the towns of Vanzone and San Carlo, you can see a stream that descends along rust-coloured rocks, called Crotto Rosso. The water comes directly from the Cani mines, already in existence at the beginning of the 19th century and now the object of rediscovery and enhancement.
The history of the Anzasca Valley is inextricably linked to mineral resources: its gold mines (the “Cani” mines in Vanzone and Macugnaga) were exploited from the Middle Ages until the 1900s. In Borca di Macugnaga you can visit the Guia gold mine, (the only example of a mining museum in Italy.
In Macugnaga, a Walser village where some great alpine excursions start, you can visit three unmissable museums and the entire old town has the air a past full of unique charm.
The Strà Granda in Anzasca Valley allows you to get to know the alpine civilisations that have lived in these mountains, to admire the grandeur of the east face of Monte Rosa, three thousand metres (9843 ft) of rock and ice; the only wall of Himalayan dimensions in the Alps. A unique valley, with two cultures, the Walser and the Romantic, which retains unspoilt nature and an ancient harmony between man and environment.
Italian Alpine Club (CAI) site identification code
Sector B “Historic Routes” B00
Alpe Bill, Alpe Sonobierg.
Points of interest along the route
- Ancient mule tracks to Alpe Bill and Meccia
- In the highest part of the route, some stretches of the ancient Walser mule track
- Spectacular views of the east wall of Monte Rosa
- Alpine landscape with various flowers
- Monte Moro cable car and refuges at 3000 metres (9843 ft)
The stage ends at the Monte Moro Pass, from where you can get back, via the comfortable cable car, to Macugnaga (Staffa hamlet) and from here take a bus to Domodossola.
Accommodation at the Monte Moro Pass for those who want to continue along the Strà Granda: CAI Refuge Oberto Maroli.
Transport: Domodossola FS International Railway Station (from Bern and Milan).
From the bus station, take the bus for Macugnaga-Valle Anzasca
Medium difficulty. The first part is along mule track, then on footpaths. The third part of the Strà Granda is in the high mountain and the weather conditions may change rapidly.
Time to complete the route
4 hrs 50 min
Walking boots and poles
B99 (it’s a section of the GTA and the TMR)
Map no. 5 scale 1:25,000 of the Geo4Map/CAI
Digital maps on the following apps: ViewRanger – PDF Maps