From the Bognanco Valley, the valley of the 100 waterfalls, paradise for the lovers of canyoning and of hiking, to the Antrona Valley, lately declared Regional Nature Park until the Antigorio-Divedro-Formazza Valleys, with the famous Toce Waterfall: an ideal mixture to live days immersed in the most uncontaminated nature in Ossola.
Bognanco, the “100 waterfalls valley”
The Bognanco valley is internationally renowned for its waters.
Boganco offers a peacefulness second to none: the walks out from the town and numerous and relaxing; in the surrounding woods you can hear the "hundred waterfalls" running; there are the towns with their characteristics stone roofs. The Spa is the center of tourist life in the valley. For excursions, Bognanco Valley offers numerous choices: Fornalino, the Verosso Summit, the Gattascosa Summit, and the three Paione lakes, which are joined together.
Across the Monscera Pass, ancient smuggling route, pass lots of tourist groups coming from Switzerland to Bognanco before going on to Antrona.
Not so tiring, but just as inspiring, are the walks to Mount Gomba and Mount St. Bernard's. You should also make time to go and see the ancient boroughs of St. Mark's, Messasca, Possetto, Pizzanco, Camisanca, Lawrence's and Graniga, with its natural terraces from which you may look out over the whole valley.
The Distretto Turistico dei Laghi has lately published a guide addressed to canyoning, a typical sport in this area, with suggestions and routes in our territory: download here the e-book!http://www.distrettolaghi.it/ebook/canyoning-itadefres
You can see wide woods with a rich fauna and, moreover, mushrooms, blueberries, strawberries, in an uncontaminated nature where you breathe deeply the air of life!
Antrona Valley: a Natural Park that is worth discovering!
The Antrona Valley, although it is the least well-know of the Ossola valleys, is nonetheless important for its traditions, for its beautiful villages, marvellous woods, and picturesque lakes.
The towns you come across are: Villadossola, Montescheno, surrounded by fruit plantations chestnut trees, and verdant pastures; Seppiana, Viganella and St Peter's, up to Antrona Piana, considered the capital of the Valley.
At Antrona Piana the valley forks off: to the left is Antrona Lake. If you go this way by foot you'll come across Camposecco and Cingino lakes, then the Campiccioli Dam, with its reservoir behind.
If you go on the right, though, you will reach an altitude of 1.497 meters and come out at Cheggio, dominated by 3.000 and 4.000 metre mountains. It's a ski resort with all mod cons. Nearby is the Cavalli Alp's Basin.
The Mirror that has made famous the Antrona Valley all over the world: Viganella
Viganella, a village of the Antrona Valley, used to be unknown… on the other hand since 2006 it has become one of the most popular alpine village in the world, thanks to a mirror that was set some hundreds metres above its centre…
but why? So that the main square of the village can be lit by the sun from November to February, as it was covered by a mountain.
So this huge mirror (length: 8 metres; height: 5 metres) enables this small village to be reached by the sun all the year, apart from the cloudy days, obviously!
Veglia-Devero Park: here the nature is the sovereign!
The Devero Alp is the ideal place for skiing in all its forms: from alpine skiing to cross-country, from children to adults, from beginners to experts, the site offers everyone the chance to have fun thanks slopes of easy and medium difficulties.
The Devero Alp is also the kingdom of snowboarders, free-riding and back-country.
You can reach the summit of Monte Cazzola with three lifts: you can ski up to an altitude of 2212 meters in 4 beaten track to a total length of 8 km and many off-piste routes, in the woods. For cross-country skiers, short and easy paths for a total of 7 km.
For snowboarders, the Devero Alp offers "Jambopark", an area equipped for stunts, jumps and dedicated to freestyle.
Veglia and Devero are nowadays a precious natural environment. In addition to the nature there is also the culture: these mountains tell a long and complex human colonization. The Park try to combine the natural conservation with the sustainable development of the mountain populations.
The San Gaudenzio Church of Baceno: world human heritage
The Parish Church of S. Gaudenzio, which was made a national monument, rises majestically on the rocky spur that dominates the Silogno Gorge, in the agricultural centre of Baceno. The importance of the centre stems from the fact that it is located in the spot where the valleys converge: Antigorio and Formazza on the right and Devero on the left. The importance of the village grew during the 13th century, during which period numerous extensions were also made to the parish church. Evidence of the church's existence is already found in a document dating back to 1039, when the building was a chapel. In the 12th century it was then incorporated into the current central nave.
The side aisles were added to the Romanesque-style Church between the end of thirteen hundreds and the first half of the fifteen hundreds. The completion of the distinctive bell tower on the other hand dates back to 1523. The prestige of the building is emphasized by the rose window above the main entrance (1505), the numerous frescoes (which include the Ecce Homo dating back to 1509) and the splendid paintings of the presbytery (the Crucifixion and the Dragon and the Apocalypse, which date back to 1542 and are found in the vault).
Located on the back wall of the apse one finds a wooden sculpture, a real work of art, characterizing the high altar. The church sustained a great loss with the sale of the impressive stain-glass depicting the twelve Apostles.
The works of art kept in the church include the enormous S. Cristoforo, a work by Antonio Zanetti called "il Bugnante", which dates back to 1542. Looking at the high altar, one sees two knights depicted next to the cross.
Tradition has it that they are Gaspare and Baldassare Rodis-Baceno, (the last descendants of the family) who commissioned the work to complete the colossal bell tower (one of the more impressive in Ossola and second only to that of Montecrestese).
To visit the church: Monday to Saturday 9.00-12.00 and 14.00-17.30 - Sunday 9.30-10.30 and 14.30-17.30
For group visits with guide: +39 0324/62045 or +39 0324/62498.
The Uriezzo Gorges: one of the most important attractions of Ossola
The Uriezzo Gorges are deep ravines, which were hollowed out by the erosive action of the rushing water, which flowed under the ice that once covered the entire Formazza Valley. Today, dry and thus easily accessible, they probably represent the most faithful image of the ancestral moulding of this territory, which is extraordinarily rich in evidence of geological history, which evidence is fascinating and unique in its kind.
Gorges, (Baceno, Arvera, S. Lucia, Balmasurda, Silogno) geysers, (those of Croveo), pot-holes (for example " the pot-holes of the Giants" in Verampio) and ravines (like the Balmafredda gorge) create mysterious surroundings, which welcome visitors in the bowels of the earth.
The distinctive feature of the Uriezzo Gorges is that since water no longer flows through these narrow and deep incisions in the rock, it is possible to walk inside three of them (the fourth one is barely accessible and it ends with a leap into a torrent of water). The most spectacular spot is undoubtedly the South Gorge, which is about 200m long and between 20 and 30m deep and which is called "the Tomba d'Uriezzo" (the Uriezzo Tomb) by the people of the area. Signboards and metal stairs guide the visitors.
The rocky bottom is not always visible because it is often covered by a layer of soil and alluvial material. The existing complex ecosystem is another notable feature: various plant species can easily be observed, particularly mosses and ferns, which are able to adapt themselves to these difficult environmental conditions.
Formazza Valley: history and nature in an unique environment!
Formazza Valley offers a truly vast ski area: ski slopes, snow park, skating rink and lots of trails for hiking and exploring the mountains bordering Switzerland.
Formazza is one of the few places where the ski fields are close to the country and tracks allow the return in shelters and homes with skis on their feet. For alpine skiing, there is a great training camp in the hamlet of Valdo, with a playground for children and snow.
The chairlift Sagersboden allows you to ski on the "Track of Champions", completely renovated throughout its length.
You can also find the new Snow Park. Formazza is also known by the experts "queen of cross country skiing". The route of San Michele is developing on the side of the River Toce for over 11km. The village of Riale offers cross-country skiing at an altitude of 1738 meters. The slopes of San Michele and Riale, during the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics were the venue of the training of the most important national teams in the world.
In Ponte you can also go ice skating.
The most beautiful water leap of the Alps, here the Toce Waterfall
At La Frua (1861 m a.s.l.), the Formazza Valley offers what is considered to be the "Alps" most beautiful leap": The Toce Waterfall. The waters of this sensational natural display launch themselves into the void from a height of 143m and reach a width of 60 meters at the base.
Interestingly enough the waters from the waterfall, which are used for hydroelectric purposes, are therefore partially led into a forced duct and are "freed" in all their majestic force, only on certain days and during certain time bands of the summer.
In 1863 a hotel, which caters for those who love hiking in the mountains and on the glaciers, was built next to the summit of the fall. A small Church dedicated to the Madonna della Neve (Snow), dating back to 1621 is situated next to this historical structure.
Continuing along the road one reaches the imposing dam wall of the artifical Lake of Morasco. There is a pleasant and striking route along the entire perimeter of the dam. The walk however goes on: following the trails, one reaches Lake Sabbione (2475m), another splendid artificial lake, where it is possible to break at the comfortable Alpine refuges (Mores, Somma Lombardo and Busto).
From Lake Sabbione, via the Gries Pass (2463 m. a.s.l.) one reaches Switzerland to then re-enter into Italy along the S. Giacomo Pass (2313). On the way back one skirts the shores of Lake Toggia (2191 m. a.s.l.) whose waters are "regenerated" by Lake Castel (2244 m. a.s.l.), which lies above it.