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Ossola central valley

 

The Ossola is a leaf-shaped complex of Alpine valleys in the northern tip of Piedmont bordering on Switzerland, wedged between the Swiss cantons of Ticino and Valais. Seven valleys make up the area, branching off the central river plain of the main Ossola Valley, which contains a number of ancient little towns and villages, such as: Montecrestese, Crevoladossola, Masera, Trontano, Beura, Villadossola, Pallanzeno, Piedimulera, Vogogna, Pieve Vergonte, Anzola, Premosello Chiovenda, Cuzzago, Ornavasso e Mergozzo.

 

Ossola area = 1.600 km2.

Highest point: Monte Rosa 4635 m. / Lowest point: Mergozzo 196 m.

Officially protected nature in Ossola = 306 km2 = 1/5 .

(National Park Valgrande and Natural Parks Veglia-Devero-Antrona)

Main city Domodossola = 19.000 inhabitants. Ossola: 38 cities/villages and 68.000 inhabitants.


The geographical and administrative centre is Domodossola, the “capital” of the area, situated on the northern part of the plain. Twinned with the Swiss town of Brig on the other side of the Simplon Pass, it lies on the ancient route to the Pass and to the high Alpine passes of the Formazza Valley, and has all the characteristics of a frontier trading town. Domodossola has since 2003 boasted a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Sacro Monte Calvario, which is also a special nature reserve of Piedmont region, set on the Mattarella Hill above the town. The fifteen chapels in the Calvario complex fully reflect the local Ossola culture, and were built with the contribution of the best local artists of the 17th century, who introduced the Baroque style to the area.

 

Valle Anzasca Monte Rosa 4635 m.

 

Situated in the south-western part of the Ossola area, the Anzasca Valley, in common with the other valleys in the area, has managed to keep its rural character and its pristine nature. The valley extends from Piedimulera up to Macugnaga, and along the route lie a series of characteristic stone-built Alpine villages: Castiglione, Calasca, Vanzone and San Carlo.

Right at the head of this wild, narrow valley is the Walser village of Macugnaga, dominated by the stupendous East Face of Monte Rosa (4,635 mt), one of the finest mountain walls in the whole of the Alps. Macugnaga is undoubtedly the most picturesque and intriguing place in the valley. Of Walser origin, Macugnaga is an example of an ancient settlement which has developed into a holiday centre without abandoning its ethnic culture and its architectural traditions.

Macugnaga along with the rest of the Anzasca Valley is a sportsman’s paradise, offering mountaineering, walking, hiking, mountain biking and all kinds of skiing. Don’t miss a visit to the Belvedere Glacier, the Monte Rosa Animal Oasis, the Walser House Museum, and the Guja Gold Mine.

Valle Antrona, Valley of the Ibex

 

The Antrona Valley is one of the seven valleys making up the Ossola area, and is well worth exploring. The steep road leading up to the valley begins in Villadossola. The area is a land of ancient traditions, characteristic villages and marvellous landscapes in which enchanting mountain lakes shimmer among woods of birch and larch. Numerous trails over gentle or rugged territory offer the possibility of relaxing walks, more strenuous hiking or mountain biking. This is a valley where peace and silence can still be found, surprising visitors used to a hectic pace of life.

The road winds up through the villages of Montescheno, Seppiana, Viganella and San Pietro before reaching the “capital” of Antrona Piana. Here the 13th century parish church of San Lorenzo is worth visiting, as are the 17th century oratories of Sant’Anna and the Blessed Virgin of the Snow.

Of all the Ossola Valleys, Antrona is one of the least known and least “developed” for tourism. The lakes which are a feature of the valley are used to produce hydro-electric power; the main artificial reservoirs are Lago di Campliccioli and Lago Alpe dei Cavalli, the largest lake in the valley, dominated by dense fir woods. Lago Cingino (2235 m.) is also an attraction because of the allpine ibex. A large group of ibexes climbs the almost vertical Lake Cingino dam wall. The main peaks are Pizzo d’Andolla (3656 m.), Pizzo Bottarello and Punta di Saas, all of them on the border with Switzerland.
 

Val Bognanco

 

Only 7 km from Domodossola, the Bognanco Valley features lush vegetation and springs of pure water. The main village in the valley, also called Bognanco, owes to these springs, the curative properties of which were discovered in 1863. The Spa Centre of Bognanco dates from this time, and was built in the Parco delle Sorgenti (Park of the Springs) amid gardens and luxuriant woodland. From here the road winds uphill to where the valley opens out into a beautiful prospect of mountain slopes covered with chestnut and fir woods alternating with broad Alpine pastures. The higher part of the valley, where the village of San Lorenzo nestles, is a broad cirque of meadows and woods surmounted by rugged peaks.

The Bognanco Valley is on the route of some of the greatest European mountain trails, such as the Via Alpina from Formazza to the Principality of Monaco, la Grande Traversata delle Alpi from Ventimiglia on the Mediterranean Sea to Ossola.
 

Divedro, Antigorio and Formazza valley

 

The Divedro Valley, the route to the Simplon Pass, links Ossola with the Wallis/Valais canton in Switzerland. The valley is studded with villages, of which Varzo is the main centre; the lateral valley of Cairasca extends from here to San Domenico and further up to the beautiful broad cirque of Alpe Veglia, a protected area sharing the status of Natural Park with Alpe Devero and Antrona. Dominating the northern part of the Divedro Valley, Trasquera is located close to the Swiss border, high up on a natural terrace permanently exposed to the sun.

Returning towards Domodossola, you come to the village of Crevoladossola, the gateway to the Antigorio Valley, the valley of the River Toce. With its large villages of Baceno, Premia and Crodo, Antigorio offers a wealth of itineraries of both scenic and cultural interest. The valley ends at Premia, where there is a natural hot water spa.

Formazza is the upper part of the Toce valley after Foppiano, where it opens out into a wide high plateau with majestic peaks on all sides. The wild, rugged landscape is the setting for the spectacular Toce Falls (143 mt), and offers a large variety of hiking trails in a high mountain environment of grassy heath and Alpine tarns.

Vigezzo, Cannobina & Valgrande National Park

 

The Vigezzo Valley lies in the north-west of the Ossola area of Piedmont, between the Antigorio-Formazza and Cannobina Valleys. The valley continues into Switzerland, and the two countries are linked by the historic “Vigezzina” railway which runs through the valley to Locarno over a 55 km route of tunnels, high viaducts and spectacular landscape.

Vigezzo is a broad sunny valley with settlements on both sides. Beginning at Masera, the road crosses seven municipalities before reaching the Swiss border. The main centres are Druogno, Santa Maria Maggiore and Malesco, where art, culture and nature coexist.

Well-known as the Painters’ Valley, Val Vigezzo has been home to many artists and has inspired landscape and portrait painters who over the years have had a strong impact on the art and culture of the area. The Painting School in Santa Maria Maggiore was started in the 19th century as a unique school of mountain painting.

The little churches and wayside shrines throughout the valley offer examples of devotional art, paintings or frescoes. Art and piety come together in the imposing Sanctuary of Re at the end of the valley, built in Gothic-Byzantine style in 1922 to recall the miracle of the Madonna del Sangue (Virgin of the Blood), said to have occurred in 1494.

Vigezzo has a rich tradition of food and wine, typified by the wide selection of salumi (cured meat) like the renowned local raw ham, honey, preserves and traditional cakes. Most festivals are food related in Ossola, but one of the most popular annual appointments is the chimney sweepers festival. There is even a chimney sweep museum in Santa Maria Maggiore.
 

Mergozzo lake 196 m.

 

Mergozzo is picturesquely situated near the Borromean Gulf, separated during the ninth century from Lake Maggiore due to the continual flooding of the River Toce. The stone houses huddle close together, separated only by narrow lanes. The central square of the village is dominated by an ancient elm tree: historical documents attest that the tree was growing in the square as many as 400 years ago. Now completely hollow, it has been given the title of a “monumental tree of Piedmont”.

 

Mergozzo was inhabited in antiquity, as is illustrated by the extensive collections in the Antiquarium museum, which displays finds from the prehistoric and Bronze ages, as well as old tools that were once used to extract and shape the granite from the quarry of Montorfano and the marble of Candoglia. At Groppole there is an important megalithic complex with two cup marks and a serpenti form gutter. Slightly elliptical in shape, bordered by stone walls and covered by a great serizzo granite boulder, the structure is known as Ca' d'la Norma and is dated to the Copper and Bronze Ages.

 

Though Lago Maggiore and Lake Orta are good for swimming, water sports (blue flag), Lake Mergozzo has always been known for its clean lake.

 

 

 

 


 

Webcam Masera Ossola 29-11-2012 / 1-4-2013

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Webcam Masera Ossola 1-4-2013 / 6-2-2014

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