Riale, known as Chärbäch in Walser language, is the northernmost village in Piedmont and is a real architectural jewel of the mountains, perched on the high slopes of the Val Formazza.
Situated at 1,730 m in altitude, Riale was one of the earliest settlements of the Walser people, who journeyed to the Val d’Ossola from the nearby Canton of Valais through the Gries Pass.
The Val Formazza was once a major trade route: from Valais, a mule track ran through the Gries Pass all the way to nearby Lombardy. This was the salt road, also the “Sbrinz Route”, as it is still known to this day, thanks to the highly acclaimed, traditional historical re-enactment event.
The Val Formazza is the only Walser colony that directly borders with the Goms, the birthplace of this German people; the historical presence of these Medieval settlements can still be felt and is very much alive. Modern-day evidence of this can be seen in the dialect spoken by a group of Val Formazza inhabitants, as well as in the typical architectural style of the dwellings and Walser names of the villages situated along the Val Formazza road.