LAND OF WIDE EMOTIONS
Currently considered as an authentic paradise for hikers and excursionists, Valle Maira is a treasure trove of Occitan history and culture and boasts a network of trails connecting secondary valleys and old villages as they pass through woods and along lakes at the feet of mountains that appear to be escaping towards the sky.
The best way to see Valle Maira is to take a hiking tour. Excursionists from all over Europe know this, and have chosen it as a favourite destination. They appreciate its authenticity, which is an added value of the territory. A clear manifesto of environmentally conscious slow tourism, the Percorsi Occitani were created thirty years ago to link Villar San Costanzo and Acceglio in a 15 leg journey. There are also 23 affiliated accommodation facilities. This 177 km itinerary provides a kaleidoscope of options involving history, culture, nature, and food and wine, which uses the unique architecture of each venue to highlight its most important features.
To start off, the valley floor offers interesting places to visit. The Espaci Occitan in Dronero houses the Museo Sòn de Lenga, which illustrates the Occitan history and culture, and Villar San Costanzo, located at the foot of Mt. San Bernardo, is known as the town of the “Ciciu”, characteristic mushroom-shaped columns formed by erosion, which are protected in a nature reserve. One of the most important Piedmontese Bronze Age cave art sites is in Roccabruna, on Monte Roccerè.
As visitors climb up the valley, they will come across many small medieval works of art in the churches and chapels, such as San Salvatore in Macra, San Sebastiano in Celle Macra and San Peyre in Stroppo. Another lovely masterpiece is the Parrocchiale (parish church) in Elva: the frescoes of the apse were painted by the Flemish painter Hans Clemer at the beginning of the 1500s. The large valley that leads to the municipalities of Marmora and Canosio is well worth the time to see. The hamlets in this valley house authentic jewels of rural architecture and art. From Canosio visitors can reach the Gardetta plateau, recognised since 2001 as part of the Patrimonio Geologico Italiano (Italian Geological Heritage Site), and the spectacular cliffs of Rocca La Meja.
Acceglio is the last upper valley municipality and its territory, located on the French border, features a thick network of trails crossing fantastic panoramic landscapes in one of the most beautiful and popular hiking destinations in the western Alps. It is ideal for people who love high altitude hiking.
Typical Occitan starter dishes, raviolàs di toma, pulenta cumudà and lamb with chestnuts were behind the drive to publish a particular German guidebook in 1999, «Antipasti und alte Wege» (“Starters and Ancient Trails”), which introduced this area and its charming wilderness, traditions and flavours to an international public.
CUNEO ALPS: YOUR PERFECT HOLIDAY. MAIRA VALLEY
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