Riserva del


Riserva del


4,478 metres in the air

Among snowy peaks and magnificent slopes is where the majestic peak of Cervino dominates over the underlying valleys. With its 4,478m of splendour, the stone giant guards the surrounding uncontaminated nature and wild animals - as it has done throughout the centuries - and reassures locals with its everlasting, regal presence.

Thanks to our grandfathers: Regione Valle d'Aosta.

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The Noblest Rock in Europe

Cervino Mountain

You might think you don't know the Cervino mountain… but you do! You have certainly seen it before: in films, TV commercials, posters, chocolate packaging or the famous works by English painter John Ruskin. 

Indeed, few mountains have been photographed as much as Cervino, also famously known as the Matterhorn.

With its imposing 4478 metres altitude it is the fourth highest peak in the Alps and undoubtedly one of the most beautiful. It stands isolated from the rest of the mountain chain at the border between Italy and Switzerland, majestically dominating the towns of Breuil-Cervinia in Italy and Zermatt in Switzerland.

In the years leading up to the first successful ascent, the Matterhorn was thought by many to be unconquerable. Today, just over 150 years after its first ascent, it is still considered a very difficult climb and a real challenge even for the more experienced mountaineers.

The first successful climb of the Matterhorn was made on July 14, 1865. It was a day that would turn out to be both epic and tragic, changing the history of mountaineering forever.

The Cervino saw many unsuccessful attempts to reach its peak before that day, but the fiercest competition for its heights was between two men: Edward Whymper and Jean-Antoine Carrel. Although the two were friends and went on many climbs together, Whymper had always competed with Carrel, a stubborn Valle d'Aosta mountain guide, for the summit. Carrel sought glory for the new-born Italian state, whereas Whymper was a proud, individualistic climber. 

In that period, the two men led two different teams up the mountain, in the attempt to reach the top first and achieve eternal glory.

The peak was conquered by daring Englishman Edward Whymper and his party, who had started from Zermatt in the morning, reaching the summit at 1:40 pm that very same summer day. Unfortunately, the climb ended disastrously when four of the team’s members fell to their deaths on the descent. A fall of over a thousand meters, caused by the youngest and less experienced climber of the team, Hadow, brought more than half the members down with him. Nonetheless, it was the first time the summit was conquered after a staggering eighteen unsuccessful attempts.

Despite the tragedy, the peak of the Cervino had been conquered and the location soon became a favourite tourist spot, with Cervinia, today, being one of the most loved and sought-after skiing paradises in the world.

Fortunately, you don't need to climb to enjoy the magnificent views and everything else this mountain offers!

Overlooking a spectacular semi-circle of crests, points, glaciers and passes, Matterhorn and the surrounding region offer a wide range of holiday opportunities

Heli-ski, ice-climbing or demanding trekking routes are available for the most daring while gentle hikes, picnic areas and beautiful lakes await those who want to relax in nature and unrivalled beauty: famous for its breath-taking views the world's most iconic mountain has it all. The next time you see this famous pyramid in a film or picture don't forget that it actually exists and awaits to be discovered!

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The Power of Water

Gouffre des Busserailles

Not far from the village of Valtournenche, on the road towards Cervinia, is where the Gouffre des Busserailles lies. 

A ravine 104 metres long and 35 metres deep, it opens into the underlying rock which dates back to the Ice Age. 

Created by the force of the waters of the Matterhorn glacier and by the Marmore River, it was first discovered in 1865 by Jean Antoine Carrel, Giuseppe Vittorio Emanuele Maquignaz and Alessandro Pellissier while climbing down a crack - today, it can be accessed by climbing down an easy flight of stairs.

Visitors will marvel at the powerful waterfall and the fascinating colour effects created by the water hitting the granite surface observed while walking on the overhanging bridge. At times, the sunlight coming from outside even creates a spectacular rainbow effect. 

The most extraordinary feature of the Gouffre are the caverns, or marmites as they are called, which the waters have hollowed out in the heart of the rock - the visit will only take ten minutes and cost you 2 euros but it's well worth a stop. The site is privately owned by the family who also owns the adjoining restaurant… which means that the manager will welcome you in typical local costume and sell you the tickets for the ravine!

In the summer you can reach the site walking from Valtournenche. The half-hour hike is relatively easy with a difference in level of merely 117 metres and a total length of approximately 1,5 km: from the town area of Pâquier take the paved road on the left that leads to Crépin. When you get to this hamlet, go past the chapel dedicated to Saints Crispin and Crispinian (with a fresco depicting the legend of Saint Theodulus and the devil), and at a crossroad take the route towards Proz (1676 m). Continue along the same route until you reach your destination.

Opening hours are different at different times of the year so make sure to check before you go (+39) 0166 92589

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Hike or Bike, but Don’t Hitch-hike!

Chamois, the Pearl of the Alps

At an altitude of 1815 metres, in the middle of the Cervino Valley on the left bank of the Marmore River, lies the peaceful village of Chamois. 

With less than 200 inhabitants it is the highest town in Valle d'Aosta and one of the highest in Italy. 

It is also the only Italian village not accessible by car: if you don’t feel like walking all the way up to the top, your only alternatives are getting there via cable car departing from Buisson, a hamlet in Antey-Saint-André, or by small plane from La Magdaleine. In fact, this tiny hamlet boasts the first "high port" in Italy, an airport for small propeller airplanes and helicopters situated on a grassy slope not far from the village itself.

If you’re feeling sporty, know that you can also walk or ride your bicycle to Chamois on a mule track – perhaps the best way to get in touch with the area's gorgeous sorrounding nature.

Due to its isolated position the village has preserved its original Alpine charm with wooden and stone houses and small lanes winding through it.

Chamois inhabitants are proud of their relative isolation and try to promote a sustainable tourist development for those who cherish nature and tranquillity. The village is part of the "Alpine Pearls" network, a co-operation established in 2006 consisting of 29 tourism municipalities in six alpine countries. Its objective is to support and promote "Soft Mobility", that is offering the possibility for guests to reach their holiday destination without a car and have easy access to public transportation and to a series of environmentally friendly holiday programmes.

Chamois offers the distinguished tourist the opportunity to enjoy a unique holiday, far from the beaten tracks in a truly exceptional location.

In winter beautiful slopes covering more than 16 kilometres are available to skiers and fantastic trails are a paradise for all snowshoe and cross country ski lovers while summer holidaymakers can enjoy lovely hikes and bike rides to the surrounding areas, such as the beautiful Lod Lake or the Sanctuary of San Domenico Savio.

Forget your car in the spacious parking area at Buisson and live your own fairy-tale in the picturesque hamlet of Chamois!

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The Fight for the Matterhorn

Jean-Antoine Carrel

Jean-Antoine Carrel was born on 16 January 1829 in Valtournenche, in Valle d'Aosta. An Italian mountaineer who grew up in the shadow of the Matterhorn, Carrel dedicated most of his life to this imposing mountain, which ultimately cost him his life.

He is mainly known for climbing the Matterhorn from the Italian side just a few days after the first successful ascent by British rival and friend Edward Whymper, who reached the summit with his team from the Swiss side in 1865. 

The competition and cooperation between these two notable figures is the most compelling part of the history of the mountain's first ascent; Carrel and Whymper were sometimes part of the same group of climbers whereas at other times they competed against each other. 

Carrel had first tried to climb the Matterhorn in 1857 and then again several times in the early 1860s. Finally, he had agreed to accompany Whymper on his ascent of the Swiss side in 1865 but later decided to join Felice Giordano's party instead and lead an Italian Alpine Club team up the Italian side.

Carrel regarded conquering the mountain as a matter of national pride and felt scorned when Whymper reached the peak just three days before he did. Nonetheless, they remained friends and did many climbs together, not only on the Matterhorn but also in the Andes.

His love and dedication to the Matterhorn, however, caused his death in 1890 when Carrel perished while guiding a party on the south side of the Matterhorn during a severe storm. 

He made sure that all his clients had safely reached the bottom and then fell from exhaustion and died on a rock at the mountain's base. A cross marks the spot where he collapsed.

Upon Carrel's death, Whymper wrote the following touching words: "Carrel was a man who was possessed with a pure and genuine love of mountains [...] The manner of his death strikes a chord in hearts he never knew."

Today, a refuge is named in his honour. Standing at 3.830 meters, it is hard to reach, making the climb only suitable for very experienced alpinists - almost as if to celebrate the greatness of Carrel’s mountain achievements.

Carrel's name is forever linked to the mountain he so much loved and which cost him his life, while his dedication to his passion was and remains an example for generations to come.

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A Cable Car to Paradise

Plateau Rosà

At a proud 3480 metres amidst the Alps lies the breath-takingly beautiful Plateau Rosa, whose name derives from the Valdôtain patois term Rosà, meaning “frozen”. This area is found in Valle d’Aosta, right between Testa Grigia and the Klein Matterhorn – or, for those familiar with the area, south of and slightly above the Theodul Pass (Colle del Teodulo in Italian).

If you are in Breuil-Cervinia and want to reach Plateau Rosà, three successive state-of-the art cable cars bring you all the way to the top, landing you to what can be unmistakably defined a "skiing paradise". Even if you are not a skier, the spectacular views are well worth the ride, as you will find yourself welcomed by a terrace surrounded by high mountains with clear skies and thin crisp air.

No words can describe the amazing views during the ride to the peak and from the Plateau itself: the views of the Matterhorn are spectacular but moreover the profiles of Mont Blanc and Gran Paradiso to the west, the Monte Rosa massif itself and the peaks of the Valais in Switzerland really make the short journey unforgettable.

Gazing back towards Italy it’s even possible to spot the iconic pointy shape of Monviso, in Piedmont, and distances up to 300 km away on the clearest of days. 

Gazing across the Swiss-Italian border you will discover the enchanting ice cave of the Klein Matterhorn, 15 meters deep and accessible by foot through a 50-metre tunnel dug in the ice – here, the lighting and soft music inside the tunnel create a very special atmosphere. In the summer, it’s possible to reach the ice cave either on foot or with skis, crossing the glacier with local mountain guides. In the winter, the cave is accessible by skiing down to Trockener Steg and then going up to the Klein Matterhorn by cable car - this is the highest ski point in all of Europe! From Plateau Rosà, a ski run more than 20 Kilometres long will thrill snow-lovers with the possibility to ski all the way down to Zermatt in Switzerland or to Valtournenche in Italy.

An interesting discovery right next to the cable car station is the museum “A Mountain of Work”, a small gem right at the top, probably the highest and smallest museum in Europe!

It contains a small collection of mountaineering gear and details about the names and heights of all the surrounding peaks as well as information about the area in general.

Whether you are looking for top quality skiing and hiking or simply want to sunbathe and relax at high altitude, do not miss the opportunity to reach the top of the world. A tip: it can be windy and cold up there so dress warmly, also in summer!

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The Vicar in the Dell

Conca di Cheneil

Lying high above at an altitude of 2105 metres above sea level, Cheneil is a tiny secluded village belonging to the town of Valtournenche. 

Originally a pasture site, the proper village wasn't established until the beginning of the 20th century – and even then it merely consisted of a few houses and two hotels. Today, though the village can still only be reached on foot, Cheneil is home to a restaurant-hotel that offers refreshments to those who decide to walk up to the hamlet!

From Cheneil, beautiful hiking routes are available for those who wish to reach the Clavalité Sanctuary and the peak of Grand Tournalin. A curiosity: because of its position on the mule track leading to Grand Tournalin, the area was visited by prominent mountaineers like Edward Whymper and Jean-Antoine Carrel on their way to the summit of Matterhorn.

Famous mountaineer and priest Father Gorret, who undertook the second successful ascent of the Matterhorn, used to bring his cows to these high pastures when he was a child. In one of his writings he describes Cheneil as "a long stretch of meadows with a winding stream surrounded by a barrier of mountains. […] In Cheneil an image of liveliness and animation coexists with the concept of serenity and calm".

It comes to no wonder that the area is well known for its astounding beauty and breath-taking views over the Grand and Petit Tournalin, the Mount Roisetta, the Becca Trecare and other notable peaks.

Broadleaf trees and conifers surround those who walk up to the village, which can be easily reached leaving the car in the spacious parking area just below it and hiking up an easy few-minutes long path. A project to construct a carrying lift to make deliveries and renovation works easier has been approved by the communal council and works should soon be finished… but even with the lift we strongly recommend that you take a walk up to the village; the trophy is a landscape of unrivalled beauty.

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From the Valley to International Fame

Italo Mus

Italo Mus was born in Châtillon in 1892 and changed painting in Valle d’Aosta forever. 

Born from a noble mother and sculptor father, Italo followed early training in his father's workshop where he learnt woodcarving, proportion and scale. In 1909, recommended by Lorenzo Delleani, he enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Turin, where he studied the basics of painting and drawing with artists including Giacomo Grosso, Paolo Gaidano and Luigi Onetti.

In 1910 he was awarded the first prize in the Young Painters’ Salon in Rome, where the jury included famous painters of the time such as Chagall, Dufy, Cocteau and Picasso.

Several years later he took part in the First World War, an experience that touched him profoundly.

After returning to Valle d'Aosta, where he married and had four children, Mus spent most of his life in his home region, despite becoming an internationally known artist and winning a series of awards. A consistent theme in his paintings is the portrayal of landscapes and scenes of life from his beloved valley, from which he drew constant inspiration. 

Although his style evolved over the years to reflect the international artistic trends of the time, some of his favourite subjects remained unchanged and make him today one of the most important artist of the Aosta region, where some of his most important works are displayed in the Gamba Castle, Châtillion.

Mus’ collaboration with De Pisis in the 1950s contributed to his gaining international fame.

Since then, his paintings, drawings and sketches - totalling approximately two thousand works - have been shown in New York, Buenos Aires and other important cities and are still auctioned and shown at exhibitions all over the world.

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An Enchanted Lake

The Blue Lake of Cervinia

The real name of this tiny and picturesque lake, situated just before the town of Cervinia at 1981 metres above sea level, is Lago Layet. It is commonly called “the Blue Lake” because of the reflection caused by seaweeds growing on its bottom that create different shades of incredible blues.

On a sunny day, with the majestic profile of the Matterhorn in the background, you can enjoy beautiful views while relaxing on the shore surrounded by trees (mainly larch) and wild flowers. 

In winter you'll be able to walk on it, as it is frozen and covered by snow most of the time!

The lake is artificial, created by a man made barrier to prevent flooding of the streams coming down from the mountain, but this is one of those rare cases where man’s hand has made nature even more beautiful.

"No kill" fly-fishing, sometimes referred to as "catch and release", is practiced in its waters: this means that you must put the fish back into the lake once you have caught it.

If you are driving to Cervinia from Valtournenche you will find a sign on the right: pull over onto the side and from there it’ll only take a few minutes to walk to the lake.

It's quite small - and therefore easy to miss - but worth the stop to get a post-card-perfect shot of the Matterhorn and its reflection. In fact, this lake has been the setting for one of the most famous pictures of this imposing mountain, so don't forget to take your own!

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The Man who Changed Letters and Beards

Marcel Bich

Marcel Bich was born in Turin in 1914. Son of Baron Aime Mario Bich (a noble family originally from the Valle d'Aosta town of Chatillon), Marcel moved to France when he was 16.

After studying law at the University of Paris he became the director of production at Stephens and Swann, the English pen and ink manufacturer, where he gained substantial knowledge of the trade. There, Marcel learnt that the ballpoint pen that had been designed by the Hungarian Laszlo Biro - who had fled to Argentina during Nazism - wasn't perfect and needed some crucial adjustments.

In 1953, Marcel Bich and his partner, Edouard Buffard, bought an empty factory near Paris and decided to acquire the patent from Biro. 

The two enhanced the functionality of his ballpoint pen and popularised it. The idea was, as we now know, a universal success: with 15 million Bic Crystal biros produced every day, Bich may fairly claim to have marketed the most successful manufactured product of all time - and changed the way we write forever. 

But business is business, so in 1973 the Bic Company acquired the DIM and Rosy hosiery companies and in 1975 launched its razor. Sales across the whole sector rose and today Bic has the second largest share of the world's disposable razor market after Gillette

Bich was a rather reserved, almost reclusive personality and his public appearances were very rare. In 1993 he handed control over the business to his son Bruno and died the year after.

The official press release announcing the death of Baron Bich gave neither cause nor place, confirming the private and publicity-shy life he had led. His legacy though is far from private: from pens to razors, from stockings to disposable lighters, Bich created some of the most powerful symbols of 20th-century ingenuity and changed the way we do everyday things in modern life.

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A Love Present for Everybody to Enjoy

Castello Gamba

Baron Carlo Maurizio Gamba had the Gamba castle built at the beginning of the 20th century for his wife, Angélique Passerin d’Entrèves, whose relatives resided at the Chatillon castle nearby, so that she could spend time with her family. 

Angelique died only a few years after construction and when Baron Gamba died heirless in 1928, the castle passed to the Passerin d'Entrèves family, who sold it to the Valle d'Aosta Region in 1982.

The neo gothic stone castle was designed by architect Carlo Saroldi and had all the modern comforts of its time, including a lift, the first to be installed in the region. 

Recent renovation works have brought the castle to a new life: today it is an important museum of modern and contemporary art with a relevant permanent collection of 150 works of art displayed in the 13 exhibition rooms that make up the three floors of the building. Some interesting works are also stored in the warehouse, which can be visited upon appointment.

One of the treasures of the museum is the collection of landscape paintings portraying famous sights of the valley by notable artists such as Lorenzo Delleani and Cesare Maggi. Equally interesting are several works by 20th century Italian masters Casorati, De Pisis, Carrà and Guttuso as well as sculptures by Martini, Manzù, Fontana, Pomodoro and Paladino. A special section is dedicated to Turin school painters: Levi, Marchesini, Tabusso, Calandri, Nespolo and many others while the works of local artists, especially Italo Mus, are displayed in a different area.

Visiting continues in the park with over 50,000 sq. m of lawn, wooded areas and landscaped gardens

It contains a rich variety of old-growth trees, some of which are extremely valuable and also flowers, especially in the spring when tulips and narcissuses are in full bloom. The view visitors can enjoy from one of the many terraces and belvederes are of astounding beauty.

The museum is open all year with varying opening times so check the website for details.

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A Hike Among Ancient Sun-disks

Valmeriana Millstones

Valmeriana, a pasture area above the small village of Pontey, is an interesting site because of the presence of fifteen caves hidden in the wooded soil and among the rocks. 

These caves are rich in minerals, which were once used for the production of millstones and soapstone pots and pans.

Mining in the area was blooming in the 11th and 12th century but some historical sources testify that minerals were extracted in the Valmeriana already in Roman times. This would explain the presence of millstones, which would have then been brought down to the valley by using sledges and transported to different mills, primarily in Piedmont but also in other regions in Italy.  

However, according to other more esoteric theories, the stones are linked to ancient magical rituals connected with astrological and astronomical symbols.

Some of the millstones have been abandoned along the route from Alpe Valmeriana leading to Bellecombe and lie scattered beside the path. For this reason the trail has been called "Strada del Sole" (the road of the Sun), as the millstones are shaped like the sun-disk, thus contributing to the theory that they might have been placed there for ritualistic reasons, to connect with the gods.

The best way to visit the site and build your own opinion of what these amazing stones could be is by joining the "tour della Valmeriana - Trail" organised by the Pontey Tourist Board every year in September and hike along the paths that lead to Mount Barberon.

Alternatively, you can follow the trail independently or join a guided tour of the area. Check the Valle d'Aosta website for details on hikes and guided tours.

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Mountain Life

'Petit Monde' Museum

The Petit Monde ethnographic Museum is an interesting site situated at Créta de Triaté, a hamlet belonging to the township of Torgnon. 

The scope of the museum is to give visitors an idea of the life and customs of the people who inhabited the area in the past and gives precious insight into the cultural roots and traditions of the local community.

The original buildings that form the complex, built between 1462 and 1700, were carefully restructured in order to create the museum and are a material witness of a past that would otherwise be forgotten.

All together the museum consists of a terraced raccard (an old wooden house), the only surviving example of such a building in the Valley, a grandze (a barn where wheat was threshed and typical products were prepared) and a grenier (a granary), used to store food and grains. Inside the different tsé and tzambron (indoor rooms) is a collection of tools used by farmers, carpenters and woodcutters. Each of the various rooms is dedicated to a specific theme, such as hay, mule, cow, milk, bread and other key aspects of mountain life. 

The way the buildings were constructed, their position and the contents of the rooms gives a clear idea of how mountain life was strictly connected with the rhythms of nature and the changing of the seasons. Today it is particularly important to remember how difficult and different life was then and to honour the memory of those who went through so much hardship for what we now take for granted: survival.

This is the spirit of this museum and part of its immense historical and cultural value. The itinerary is completed with a visit to the mill, which is located nearby on the Petit Monde River. 

The best way to visit the museum is to walk for about 1.5 km and admire the splendid views over Torgnon, Valtournenche and the Matterhorn. Alternatively, for those who prefer to drive, the museum can also be reached by car.

Contact the Tourist Office for opening times: tel. +39 0166540433, email: info@torgnon.net

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Beauty and Darkness of the Middle Ages

Cly Castle

As if we were emerging from a time machine, we reach a sunny peak overlooking the village of Chambave. 

The views are breath-taking and to call this a strategic position isn't enough. This is where the powerful and menacing castle of Cly stands. 

It is an area with an amazing past: the castle stands on a site where traces of settlements dating back to the Bronze Age were found.

The first tower and the chapel date back to the 11th century: the castrum de Clivo was mentioned in a papal bull of 1207 but only from later in the century are there accounts of the events that happened there.

These were rough years, known for the abusive and violent behaviour of Bonifacio di Cly and of his son Pietro, a handsome but cruel man. The lords of Cly were notoriously mean and arrogant. They were members of a side branch of the powerful Visconti family of Aosta and their feud stretched across the Matterhorn to the high Vallese and Zermatt - a highly strategic area which controlled the main commercial routes of the time.

Their behaviour was so insubordinate and shameless that Amedeo IV of Savoy, the "Conte Verde", decided to take some of their land after yet another event that showed their shameless arrogance. 

By the end of the thirteenth century the lords of Cly were stripped of their title and their wonderful castle passed under the direct control of the Savoys. 

Later it belonged to Spanish Captain Cristoforo Morales, and then passed back to the Savoys, then to State Secretary Giovanni Fabri and finally to the Roncas family, who dismantled it and used some of its most precious elements to build their new palace in the village of Chambave. 

Historian Tancredi Tebaldi finally bought the remaining assets and left them to the township of Saint-Denis.

Today, Cly Manor will surprise you with its crenelated walls, its extraordinary Romanesque chapel dedicated to Saint Maurice and its mysterious tower.

In this tower and in its dungeons the presence of the poor souls of those who were imprisoned there still echoes, like Johanneta Cauda, found guilty of witchcraft and of having eaten her grandchildren in the company of a friend. It was 1428 and Johanneta spent 71 days of anguish and suffering in the tower before being burnt alive on the 11th of August, the day of Saint Laurence, patron saint of Chambave.

The castle of Cly deserves to be discovered for its strikingly beautiful landscape, the extremely evocative architecture and its complex and tormented history. 

In the summer, The Associazione Culturale Maniero di Cly (Manor of Cly Cultural Organisation) stages interesting events such as medieval theatre shows and period re-enactments on the grounds of the castle. Guided tours of the castle are also offered. 

Past the castle, the road continues to the picturesque hamlet of Verrayes, where another hidden gem of rare beauty can be found: in Marseiller, perched on a rock, stands the chapel of Saint Michael, dating back to the 15th century. The inside boasts frescoes by Giacomino d'Ivrea, a painter who was particularly active in the area at the time. Some of his frescoes can be found in the courtyard of Fenis Castle. Above the portal of the chapel an inscription in Gothic characters describes Giovanni Saluard as the donor of the chapel. He was a notable at the service of the Cly family and he is depicted in the chapel with the wife, Saint John, Saint Mary Magdalene and Saint Catherine. His fortified house can be seen not far away from the castle. 

On the way down to the valley don't forget to stop at Crotta di Vegneron to taste their famous Moscato, a must for all wine connoisseurs!

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A Marathon on Ice

Mezzalama Trophy

The Mezzalama Trophy, also called "the Glacier Marathon", is one of the most renowned alpine ski events worldwide. 

It takes place on the Monte Rosa massif and is included in the Grande Course calendar and in the Long Distance ISMF world Cup programme. Three hundred teams, assessed on the basis of the athletes' curriculum, are admitted to the event. This assessment is a vital instrument to reduce risks.

The Mezzalama Trophy is the highest race in the Alps, as it goes past the Vetta del Castore (4226 m.) and the Passo del Naso dei Lyskamm (4150 m). 

The first edition took place in 1933, when the first ski lifts were installed in the Alps. Just thinking of how hazardous and ahead of its time it was to challenge altitude in those years is a simple and fascinating exercise. 

From that year on the Mezzalama Trophy has been held irregularly, also because of changing weather conditions.

Over the years the trophy has changed: distances have increased and since 1997 it has been organised every two years. In the 2015 edition the route was inverted: not from Cervinia to Gressoney-la-Trinité like in the previous editions but the other way around to mark the finish line in Breuil-Cervinia and celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first ascent on one of the most beautiful and evocative peaks of the entire Alps.

The inverted route increases the difficulty of the "Glacier Marathon" thus making it even more fascinating. 

In fact, for the first time all athletes had to face a new route without the advantage of knowing it from previous experience. Additionally, the new route increased the total climb in altitude of the event by about 350 m., making it even harder... just in case it wasn't hard enough already! This wasn't actually the first time that this route was taken, even if this was the case for the participating athletes.

The route had once been taken in 1937, the year the Cervinia-Plan Maison cable car was inaugurated.

Damiano Lenzi, who, with Matteo Eydallin and Manfred Reichegger, won the 2013 edition, tells us what to do to triumph in a competition like this: "you leave early, go fast and, if you are first at the finish line, you have won". Easy, isn't it?

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The Thrill of Altitude

Hervé Barmasse

Hervé Barmasse is one of the most important climbers worldwide. Originally from Valtournenche, Hervé comes from three generations of alpine guides. When his promising career as a young skier was abruptly interrupted, he had no idea that his destiny would be to open new routes in the highest mountains in the world. 

This new career started and developed around his home mountain, the Matterhorn, where he achieved most of his records and which seems to now present hardly any secrets for him - at least for now, until he discovers another new route!

As he likes to say "mountains are not conquered but rather choose to make themselves known" and the knowledge of all nuances can be limitless.  

A mountain is not only a big block of rock, ice and snow: a mountain is something immensely big and cannot be bought on the market, just like the love and respect that we show to it. A mountain is something you feel and lives inside you until the urge to discover new routes and meet new challenges is so compelling that it becomes the purpose of your life. One needs to have it in their soul and in their heart. 

If we were to ask Barmasse, an accomplished storyteller by the way, what one feels finding themselves in a place where no one else has ever been, (opening new routes which were unthinkable until shortly before or following the steps of those who made the history of climbing) we would probably find it difficult to get the real essence of the emotions and freedom he experiences. For example when he ideally challenged Valter Bonatti in 2011 by opening up a new solitary route on the Matterhorn, just as Bonatti had done.

Although the Matterhorn remains to many people one of the most beautiful and spectacular mountains in the Alps, Barmasse's notable career certainly does not stop here and the list of his extraordinary undertakings and first ascents extends from Pakistan to Patagonia passing through China.

Barmasse's international acclaim was confirmed by Reinhold Messner's endorsement. 

This legend of international climbing once declared: "I once said that climbing had failed but today I say it hasn't because there are young people like Hervé Barmasse. Hervé is capable of finding adventure in the Alps and not only in the Himalayas or Patagonia. Young climbers like him defend the true values of traditional mountaineering. I once said we would be short of young people who contribute to the mountaineering culture but today I say they still exist".

Hervé Barmasse is not only famous for his climbing efforts but also for his book "La Montagna Dentro" (the Mountain Inside) e for the films "linea Continua" (Continuous Line) and "Non Così Lontano" (Not so Far).

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We wouldn’t be here today without our stubbornness and the support of these Italian companies and institutions.

Custode riserva

Caretaker of the Riserva

We are looking for the Caretaker of this Riserva. If you love your land and want to help us promote it, contact us at info@whyinitaly.it.