ALAGNA VALSESIA, ANCIENT PARADISE OF EUROPE
After Alagna you are not the same. The quiet that protects the second highest peak in Europe, the Monte Rosa in Piedmont, surrounds you even before reaching the Valsesiana valley and does not leave you anymore. The Walser villages that meet on the street are intimate, warm, despite having roots well planted in the snow. An old German proverb reads: “Wo holzerne Häuser sind und blonde Haare da spricht man deutsch”, (Where wooden houses and blond hair are spoken there). And indeed the northern characteristics of the inhabitants and the architecture of the houses bring back the memory to the colonization of the Walser, a people of Germanic origin emigrated from Switzerland in various areas of the Alps, where they brought culture and tradition, as in the village of Alagna, in the province of Vercelli, a small town crossed by the river Sesia and inhabited by just over seven hundred souls. The new houses, as well as those of the time, have maintained the same structure: the stone base and the wooden top, with the characteristic lobbia at the end, a sort of wooden grill. One of the most beautiful things about the Walser houses is the roof, a real engineering work since it had to endure the heavy snowfall. But let’s go in order! I begin to tell you what won me over as soon as I arrived in Alagna: exactly the fascinating story of the Walser houses.
WALSER HOUSE MUSEUM
For me it was important to understand the origin of these very special houses. In Alagna they are all the same and above all they are present only in this area. All the answers to my questions I found inside the Walser Museum, part of the Valsesia Ecomuseum. This museum is also housed in a Walser house of 1628 and was set up at the end of the seventies by some inhabitants of the hamlet Pedemonte with the aim of preserving the daily habits of this community. My Ciceron was Lorena (exceptional tourist guide of Alagna) who led me on a beautiful journey to discover the Valsesian past. Each floor of the house was intended for a specific purpose: the lower floor for kitchens, stables and yarn processing (hemp, mostly). In the middle there are two bedrooms: one equipped with wooden and iron objects, the other with furniture for rest (the mattress filled with beech leaves is a real wonder!). The upper floor was used as a storage room for agricultural tools. Visiting the rooms of the Walser Museum has taken me back in time to the everyday life of those people. And I have to tell you the truth, I was also very excited. Admiring with what pride Lorena tells the stories of her people is beautiful and opens the doors to a true journey of the heart.
MIRA ALAGNA MOUNTAIN RESORT & SPA
My stay was as exceptional as the structure that hosted me. The Alagna Mountain Resort & Spa of the MIRA HOTELS & RESORT group is the right synthesis between the colors and the scents of tradition and the modernity of services. In the heart of Alagna Valsesia, at the foot of Monte Rosa, just 300 meters from the ski lifts of the Monte Rosa Ski area, 49 Walser-style suites welcome tourists from all over, both in winter and summer. The scenery is enchanting and, at nightfall, it seems to live the atmosphere of a Scandinavian village. The structure, made of stone and wood recalls the mountain village architecture, with porches and balconies. Throughout my stay I breathed air of freedom against the backdrop of an uncontaminated landscape and the welcome in a warm and helpful interior space as the staff who work there under the guidance of the director Simonetta. Inside the Alagna Mountain there are two different areas to choose from: the gourmet restaurant Corno Bianco à la carte, elegant and refined, where you can enjoy traditional local dishes revisited and reinterpreted, with a beautiful wine list; the Im Land Bierstube where you can enjoy aperitifs, informal dinners or relax after dinner with music and the excellent Drink Mira. I can assure you that one of the most beautiful memories I have kept is the awakening illuminated by snowy mountains. Try to believe!
ACQUA BIANCA WELLNESS
It is undoubtedly the strength of the Alagna Mountain Resort: the large area (indoor and outdoor) dedicated to the Spa and wellness: the White Water Wellness. And not only for the relaxing experiences that await you with the Finnish sauna, the Turkish bath, the wonderful massages and treatments, the emotional showers, the pool for children and the large indoor pool. But especially for the pride of the structure that you can enjoy in all its wonder: the outdoor swimming pool steaming and heated to 32 degrees, at the foot of the mountains: one of the most “unstable” location that I have ever seen. (Watch the video at the end of the report!). I tried the relaxing massages and the superlative holistic-inspired treatments that advised me the very good Sante to release the compressed energy. Take advantage of it!
DAY 3 AND LAST
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE MONTE ROSA
We are talking about the second mountain group in the Alps and the highest in Switzerland, on the border between Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta. Its name, contrary to what one might think, does not come from the pink color of which the peaks are dyed at sunset, but from the word “rouja” that in the Francophone dialect spoken in Val d’Aosta means: glacier. From Monte Rosa, in fact, several glaciers descend, which are still being monitored and studied in terms of global warming. The highest peak is Punta Dufour which reaches 4,634 meters, but it is on Punta Gnifetti that there is one of the most characteristic alpine refuges in Europe, Capanna Regina Margherita.
Do you know that when there are particular colors of the sky, from the peaks of the Mount it is possible to see the skyscrapers of Milan? With Daniela, an exceptional companion of adventure, I spent the most beautiful mountain day of my life in the ski resort Monte Rosa Ski that connects Ayas, Gressoney and Alagna Valsesia. Here there are 180 km of snow-covered slopes that captivate ski and snowboard lovers. After a beautiful walk along the various rest stations (led by Marco) and only after having tried the delicious hot Melè, we arrived at the top to admire the real novelty of this year: the Cat Bar. A bar for all intents and purposes, where you can eat, drink and sunbathe with your feet on the snow. What can I tell you? A wonderful feeling, almost impossible to describe, accomplice the beautiful sunny day. My day on Monte Rosa excited me but also freed of many unnecessary thoughts and, once I got off, I felt incredibly lighter.
ALAGNA WALSER GREEN PARADISE
To tell me about the “green” project of Alagna Valsesia was the mayor Roberto Veggi in person, during a very pleasant dinner with the leaders of the Mira group. Through the funding of the Municipality and Region of Piedmont, the village at the foot of Monte Rosa has been working for some time to implement safety and sustainability in tourism and in the “smart” perspective. The pillars of the project aim to enhance environmental issues, accessibility and culture, through the protection of landscape scenarios and the preservation of local traditions. “Clean air, healthy food and a well-maintained landscape – said the first citizen – together with an economy without waste and love for this territory can make the difference to ensure the sustainable development of Alagna and the whole community”. But why is Alagna a “green paradise”? First of all, the town plan does not provide for new buildings, because Alagna has now reached its architectural harmony; then, among other administrative activities, the village of Piedmont provides for its own energy needs, certifies local products with municipal designation of origin, will become plastic free by 2023 and checks the separate collection. In short, living in symbiosis with the mountain and in its respect, Alagna is a civic state as well as soul.
After Alagna you are no longer the same. The mountain is a feeling impossible to describe. It encloses the wild, the adrenaline, the emotion that conquer you. The mountain gives what you want given to you. Alagna is a pure, ancestral, genuine place, with a powerful inspiring energy that liberates imagination and creativity. Nothing is able to wipe out heavy thoughts on the heart as to fill the eyes with this wonder of nature. Reach this little paradise in Piedmont, spend a few days, open your lungs and mind, and then tell me! Have a nice trip.