In the Ossola Valley, rural and architectural traditions from the past still continue today, above all in the historical communities and small villages scattered along each valley. No less than five of these have been awarded the Touring Club Italiano Orange Flag: Macugnaga, Malesco, Mergozzo, Santa Maria Maggiore and Vogogna, the last of these – a splendid medieval village – has also been voted one of the “Most beautiful villages in Italy”.
It will be easy, therefore, to become intrigued by the evidence of the Walser people, who began their colonisation precisely in the areas around Monte Rosa and you will be moved when you discover the romantic spots amidst the decorated narrow streets and the porticoed little squares of the truly unique villages, accompanied by the inviting smell of a fire lit in a hearth that has been heating an ancient stone house for centuries.
Begin your visit starting from the Borgo della Cultura in Domodossola, a veritable open-air treasury, amongst artistic gems, elegant architecture and unmissable museums. And then Baceno, with its magnificent Church of San Gaudenzio; Craveggia with its treasury and tall chimneys on the typical sloping granite-tiled roofs; the Walser village of Formazza in the far north of the Ossola Valley; Macugnaga, protected by Monte Rosa’s “Himalayan” face; Malesco and its mountain traditions close to the Val Grande National Park; the elegant town of Mergozzo overlooking the crystal clean waters of its lake; Santa Maria Maggiore, the town of chimney sweeps and Eau de Cologne; and lastly Vogogna, with its Visconti Castle, a majestic stone guardian.
Yet the smaller villages should not be forgotten, either. A series of charming little villages, perched along the most inaccessible ridges of the mountains or lying on ancient terracing now cultivated once more: discover them at a slow pace, admiring the remains of a past that in the Ossola Valley is the present and future of the mountain folk who live there, deeply connected to pure and valuable values.