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See some of the most important passages of the race
See the map for this beautiful ski marathon on the glaciers of Monte Rosa.
The organization of the classic race has decided to ostpone the start because of the very bad weather forecasts for this week-end. At the moment it is not yet decided when it will be possible to start. Hopefully the participants have to wait only for a couple of days. News on www.trofeomezzalama.org
See Carlos blog with very intersting pictures and information during his top tours and trekkings in the Spanish mountains and on Monte Rosa's Dufour Spitze 4643 meters peak.
When you sit in the cable car to reach the slopes above Alagna, you are surprised by the mixture of styles in the architecture of this little village at the foot of the huge South side of the Monte Rosa. Beautiful traditional Walser houses and massive fin de siècle buildings, with the churchyard in the middle as a reminder of life’s shortness, look like they never really melted together in a unity. They just do not communicate with each other, because they do not speak the same language.
13021 Alagna Valsesia (VC) – P.za Grober n 1
PH + 39 0163 922988 – fax + 39 0163 91202
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The history of Alagna is of one of the most important centers for the Walser culture in the Alps. The Walser were the people who came from the North through the mountain passes in the Middle Age and colonized the high lands above 1500 meters. They were independent from the rest of the Country and selfsufficient. They built their typical villages of up to 6 houses where they did live, pray and rule their own lows.
Probably there was not so much going on in Alagna up to the end of the 1800-th Century when, with the unification of Italy under the kingdom of the Savoia, Alagna became one of the places for “society” where to meet and have vacation. Thus the construction of the first hotel in town, the Monterosa – today I assume not so many people join in the big and beautifully decorated dancing room any more, a little decadent after all these years.
Next step was taken in the 60s when the next big hotel, Cristallo, was built together with the mythical concrete cable car station of Punta Indren (3300 m), permitting to alpinists from all over the world to easily reach the tops of the second biggest mountain in Europe, Monte Rosa! Those were times of industrial expansion and skiing was also becoming more and more like an industry. Alagna was following the main stream.
But after the first lifts and hotels (until for a couple of year ago there were also 2 lifts for summer skiing on the Indren glacier!) it did not come so many others, and the money ended. It was first at the beginning of the 90s that a handful of skiers and snowboarders from abroad joined the couple of local fans and discovered the incredible play ground of this area for off piste lovers, making it reach the actual level of tone he most famous “freeride” resorts in the world. Still Alagna is not bigger than it was earlier and the lifts have increased by the number of one or two – however top of the line.
The valley of Alagna (Valsesia) is a very narrow one and the spectacle of the mountains is imposing with the high peaks of the South side of Monte Rosa. It is a perfect place for alpinists. Today the ski area is connected with the big ski system (Monterosa Ski) so you can reach Gressoney and Champoluc easily. More than for the ski slopes the area is well known for its huge off-piste and ski mountaineering trails in wintertime. In the summer a well developed trail system for all kind of hiking, trekking and top touring, where one of the most interesting and spectacular goals is the Capanna Margherita +39 0163 024610, the highest “rifugio” in the Alps at 4554 m! The other twenty 4000 meters of the Monte Rosa chain with their glaciers and mountain huts are famous for mountaineers from all over the world.
Here there is one of Italy’s most beautiful National Parks: the National Park of the Alta Valsesia, with all typical animals of the Alps and an unspoiled flora surrounding small well bewared Walser villages as Carcoforo. Combine nature and history in your vacation!
Alagna is known not to be expensive, which makes it all worthwhile to make a winter or summer vacation here. There are few hotels, B&B, and guesthouses, but people who know the place, prefer often to rent private flats for a vacation. There is a very good local travel agent to help you with that: Lyskamm Viaggi. http://www.lyskammviaggi.com/page.php?l=en&id_cat=home&sid=&n=
Residence Mirella http://www.residencemirella.com/ is a cult place for all the real connoseurs, and it is as much for the bakery and chocolate atelier as for the delicate decorated rooms that you can rent for a very good price. Emanuela, the lady who runs the residence is always happy to see you, are you an old or a new guest of the house. Her husband, behind the desk, creates his chocolate pralines with the same love as he carves the tree of the beds in the rooms. At the bar you will not be surprised meeting all the “personalities” of Alagna, from the mountain guides to the police officer and the ski bums, all join the nice atmosphere of Mirella, around a grappa. Best of all it is at the cable car’s station.
Hotel Montagna di Luce http://www.montagnadiluce.it is housed in a beautiful Walser house from the 1700-th Century, the family home of the most famous mountain guide in Alagna, Sergio Gabbio. He was one of those whose love for his mountains made it possible for this place to become popular for an international elite of other mountain lovers I the 90s. Through his guiding and story telling he still shows you where to have most fun here weather with the skis or not on your feet. The hotel is traditional wooden designed interior with a cozy and familiar atmosphere, a good restaurant, and a little sauna as well. A little longer walk from the lift.
To be created. There is some special Charme house (http://www.alagna.it/home.php?id_cat=casedicharme&n=Charme-homes ) in the village, but not the usual luxury.
Hotel Cristallo Alagna, http://www.hotelcristalloalagna.com/ is very cozy and beautiful, but perhaps a little “wrong” for the “genius loci” of this town. Very kind service though!
On the slopes you will also find refuges of good quality for lodging off the main road, with few rooms but for a feeling of being lost in the mountains far from cars and ”civilization”:
Grande Halte , http://www.grandehalte.it/en/hut, +39 348 8752203,
Guglielmina burned down 2011 december
Was the most well-known rifugio in the whole Monterosa area. Owned by the same family since 1800-th Century it has been called a balcony in the Alps.
In the same place is Rifugio Vigevano, +39 348 1415490, http://www.alagna.it/home.php?l=en&id_cat=struttura_dettaglio&sid=&o1=409&o2= Col d’Olen (2880 m), owned by the Italian Alpine Club section of Vigevano. Only some of the rooms have heating wintertime. From here you can see the whole chain of the Italian Alps, at the same time as you enjoy a good meal and wines from the extremely well sorted local cellar at 2880 m height! The rooms are simple but warmly equipped, and the down shines through your window as a pink light, reminding you that it is time to be the first out in the virgin powder today.
Rifugio Margherita, +39 0163 024610, http://www.alagna.it/home.php?l=en&id_cat=struttura_dettaglio&sid=&o1=12&o2= on top of Punta Gnifetti, was built with the commission of Italy’s Queen Margerita di Savoia at the end of the 1800th Century, when the queen was one of the most frequent visitors of the glaciers and the peaks of Monte Rosa. Its height does not make it possible for all to sleep here, if ever to reach by climbing the 1200 meters from the lift station of Punta Indren. But the panorama from this place is astounding and you will be amazed to sit on the rifugio’s balcony and dingle with your legs above the 1000 meters abyss under your feet. The rifugio is built on the edge, making you wonder how the Holy Mary they did to make it when helicopters were only a fool’s dream. You will enjoy half board or only good cakes and tea sorts for the ones who can, Capanna Margherita is a perfect goal for ski mountaineering as well as summer climbing.
Piemonte is one of the areas in Italy where you eat the most amazing meat and drink the strongest wines, as Nebbiolo. Alagna is located in Piemonte and the food and wines you can find here respond to the espectations. But the places to go are not so many, at least if you don’t want to use your car to go to eat.
Another intersting aspect is the Walser culture, that natuarlly involves food and drink too. Read what is on the very good guide of Alagna at www.alagna.it:
”The union between goat, bovine and grass from mountain pastures, produce cheeses of great quality as well as exquisite typical salamis. The close proximity of the hills of Novara and Gattinara where excellent reds have been produced for centuries and have even been confused with that of the upper valley during the late Medieval period, guarantees an excellent match with the multi-prized and famous D.O.C.G Gattinara and Ghemme on modern tables.”
Ristorante Unione, + 39 0163 922930 is surely the most well known, in the old theatre of Alagna, also a good bar and winery. Ask for “Miacce” (local warm bread with ham and salame) as an antipasto and continue with some other Walser speciality as Polenta and deer. The wine list includes most of the wines from Piemonte and from the valleys around Alagna, as Ghemme and Gattinara.
Enoteca is the other restaurant/bar of Alagna. Very good food for a “normal” price, and local specialities as the “Miaccia” on the table together with the best local wines of Piemonte.
There are few places on the slopes of Alagna, but on the other side you can easily reach Gressoney and Champoluc, with their delicate restaurants on piste.
Grande Halte, + 39 0163 91104, between the first and the second big lift at Pianalunga, is also a rifugio with rooms for the night. It is worth a stay for its very good and cozy athmosphere, with a small but inviting SPA.
Trekking, top tours to the 4000 meters peaks, and day hikes from the village are all valuable experiences for all ages, capability and wishes. There are beautiful Walser villages to explore for example in the Otro Valley or the Eco-museum which tells about the history of man on the territory through the centuries http://www.alagna.it/home.php?l=en&id_cat=trekking&sid=&o1=&o2
The Parco Naturale Alta Valsesia , established 1979 http://www.alagna.it/home.php?id_cat=wilderness&n=Natural-Park
Includes very different natural aspects, from the forest that grows at 800 meters to the astounding heights of the big peaks of the Monte Rosa South side, ending with Punta Gnifetti at 4554 meters.
Mountaineering goes easy if starting from the highest lift station at the 3300 meters of Punta Indren http://www.alagna.it/home.php?id_cat=alpinismo&n=Mountaineering
The people who like trekking have some of the nicest huts to stay at, and do not need to bring any heavy foods or gears for the night; you will find small guest houses on the trails for resting and enjoying the quiet near the stars and off the road.
Grande Halte , http://www.grandehalte.it/en/hut, +39 348 8752203
Rifugio Vigevano, +39 348 1415490, http://www.alagna.it/home.php?l=en&id_cat=struttura_dettaglio&sid=&o1=409&o2= Col d’Olen (2880 m), owned by the Italian Alpine Club section of Vigevano. Only some of the rooms have heating wintertime. From here you can see the whole chain of the Italian Alps, at the same time as you enjoy a good meal and wines from the extremely well sorted local cellar at 2880 m height! The rooms are simple but warmly equipped, and the down shines through your window as a pink light, reminding you that it is time to be the first out in the virgin powder today.
The Ospizio Sottile +39 0163 922993 http://www.alagna.it/home.php?id_cat=struttura_dettaglio&o1=230&n=Rifugio-Alpino_Rifugio-Ospizio-Sottile is located at 2480 meters of altitude on the "Valdobbia hill", on the road connecting Val Vogna and the Valsesia with the Gressoney Valley, Piedmont and Valle d'Aosta. The fundamental point of transit for centuries emigrants and traders were forced to cross the Pass also in winter and to deal with the related elements of the high mountains.
Guide di Alagna, +39 0163 91310, http://www.guidealagna.com/homepage.asp?l=1 will help you with the best excursions on the Monte Rosa East Side during summer and with heliski and freeride during winter.
Not existing in Alagna, but some place can easily be reached by car down in the Valsesia. Half an hour drive to go to Varallo for example, for a disco pub.
Sport Haus, +39 0163 91308 http://www.sporthaus.it/index.asp?lang=en is perfectly set directly close to the lift station in the middle of the village. It has the best inventory of all what you need for skiing, apart from clothings (those bring you best with you from home!). All kinds of skis, from carving to telemark and ski mountaineering, mixed with the last fashion in helmets, poles, glasses and security kits (transceivers). In summer you will also find bikes and climbing gears here.
Read "Marta's Monterosa Blog" where she shares her personal experience about the trips, the people and the environment of the Alps.
Read Marta's Monterosa Blog
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