In the Canavese Valleys we can find pristine nature and complete wilderness in the wild highlands, with a unique flora and fauna, while at lower altitudes we can discover gentle landscapes of green hills, woven with vines and orchards, dotted with woods and small towns.
The Canavese Valleys are home to the Piedmont side of Gran Paradiso National Park, Italy’s oldest protected area, established in 1922 to protect the twenty-two hundred hectares of hunting grounds donated by King Vittorio Emanuele III to the Italian State. The animal symbol of the Park is the Alpine ibex, but it is really easy, especially if accompanied by an experienced guide, to also see chamois, marmots, large birds of prey like the eagle or the bearded vulture and to discover the extraordinary biodiversity of the vegetation of the Park. In the woods of the valley floor the most common trees are larch, mixed with Norway spruce, stone pine and, more rarely, silver fir. Gradually, as we climb along the slopes, the trees give way to vast Alpine meadows that are full of flowers in the late spring. The closer we get to the 4061 m summit of the Gran Paradiso the more the landscape is characterized by rocks and glaciers. A dense network of well-marked footpaths permit excursions at every level.
The National Park attracts a large number of visitors also from abroad. Today the Gran Paradiso National Park has its own network of structures for welcoming and informing tourists: visitor centers in Locana, Noasca, Ceresole and Ronco; the Tourism Secretariat and environmental education center in Noasca; nature trails in Noasca, Ceresole and Ronco; exhibitions on wildlife, local culture and the environment, and educational signs. These structures facilitated the creation over time of a comprehensive offering for school trips and for educational/environmental tourism which may use the Park as an interesting laboratory for research and discovery of biodiversity. In addition to the educational programs dedicated to the flora and fauna, there are also tours and stays dedicated to renewable energies and to the local popular culture.
It is not all about the Park, though; the quality of the natural environment and the pleasantness of the Canavese Valleys landscape, from the Alto Canavese to the Sacra Valley, from Valchiusella to the Dora Baltea, also thanks to the extensive network of trails, paths and small roads, make them particularly suitable for hiking, biking and horseback riding, especially for those looking for relaxation and a welcoming environment to practice their activities. There is a booklet full of day trips or treks of several days that can be undertaken alone or accompanied by guides and nature guides. The territory includes another protected area, the natural reserve of the Sacro Monte di Belmonte, which is very attractive from a cultural, historical and devotional perspective.
The nature reserve was established by the Piedmont Region within the municipalities of Cuorgnè, Pertusio, Prascorsano and Valperga and it includes a large part of Belmonte hill, a relief that stands alone at the entrance of the Orco valley, a unique granite outcrop whose summit dominates the plain from the serra d’Ivrea to the hills of Turin. Pink granite outcrops alternate with woods of chestnut, oak and birch. The red granite of Belmonte was altered by the elements and created fine reddish gravel deposits that lend themselves easily to erosion which scores the sides of the hill and which, especially on the North side, creates badlands called “sabbionere” where the sand, depending on the area, is reddish, violet or white. The vegetation includes some rather rare species typical of wetlands, like the Royal fern, the largest fern found in the Piedmont, and Sundews, a small carnivorous plant a few centimeters high, with leaves bristling with sensory tentacles for hunting small insects. The Sentiero dei Tabernacoli is a forty-minute long walking path which includes Belmonte Park (beyond the Stations of the Cross trail which covers the top of the Sacro Monte) and goes from Valperga to the Belmonte Sanctuary. It is called the Trail of the Tabernacles because of the fifteen votive pillars dedicated to the mysteries of the Rosary that are located along the way.
Speaking of relaxation, we need to mention the beautiful streams that can be used for relaxation and swimming in the summer (Orco, Chiusella, Piova, Savenca) and that are often equipped with amenities along their banks.
Below you can download the E-book of the touring itineraries of the Canavese Valleys. It describes the main inter-valley routes (GTA, Via Alpina, Giroparco and Alta Via Canavesana) and some itineraries found in the individual valleys which offer interesting opportunities to visit and discover the area. It is also possible to download a map of the inter-valley itineraries.