The Lanzo Valleys: guide to an alpine oasis hidden from mass tourism (part I)

Between Val Susa, Savoia and Valle d'Aosta, from the Alpine peaks descend towards Turin Valleys of Lanzo (Val Grande, Val d'Ala and Valle di Vi霉), jewels unknown to mass tourism. If you like omnicomforts hotels, shopping malls and alpine shopping, trendy clubs even at 2.000 meters, I dare: do not continue reading.

Here you will find only dusty little hotels that survived the Belle Epoque; ancient peasant houses in stone (authentic, of those that no longer exist in Valle d'Aosta and Trentino, transformed into cartoon tourist houses), where if you are lucky you will find an old lady who sells you an excellent and "fragrant "Toma inside a barn totally refractory to EC hygiene standards; magnificent impervious paths, the same ones that smugglers once walked with the merchandise on their backs.

Yes, because Italian mountaineering was born here and the first alpine guides, some also called abroad for their skill, were smugglers or children of smugglers; nor were the women watching: one apparently was famous because it left France with its load on its shoulder, crossed the Alps at about 3.000 meters and then went down to Italy, without ever stopping, with his pipe in his mouth. In the small village of Balme, in Val d'Ala, a museum explains the myth of those alpine guides who, in order to live, invented mountaineering for the benefit of bored but energetic young men of good family (who at the end of the nineteenth century even came here from France, England and Switzerland). In the village there is also a modest but fun adventure course suspended in the air. From these impervious Alpine passes not only smuggled goods and tourists passed, but also the Holy Shroud, when it was taken adventurously from Savoy to Turin to save it from war and pillage: in Balme and along the valley, ancient abandoned frescoes commemorate the event, waiting for the Cultural Heritage to remember them.

Above Balme, at 1800 meters, the scenographic Pian della Mussa, rich in spring waters from which the Turin aqueduct is supplied, dominated by a former Savoy hunting lodge (today Soggiorno Alpino Scuole Pie) and in the background of which the peaks rise of Bessanese and Ciamarella, well known to mountaineers and rock climbers.

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