The itinerary crosses very different environments, from beech and larch woods to altitude pastures. Of particular interest are breath-taking panoramas of Ciamarellanow paved, Levanne, Gran Paradiso iced summits and, further on, of Monte Rosa. In the past, the whole area was frequented due to mining exploitation of which far away memories and visible proofs still exist.
The monolith, such as Bec Ceresin, Pera Cagni e Peròva, which you will come up to along the route, are particular both for their characteristic appearance and for the odd tales they aroused in mountain people’s fantasy and are still handed on to new generations.
From Pialpetta (1069 m), cross the creek and follow the good mule track crossing a larch wood until reaching the hollow below mountain pastures Trione (1649 m), limit of the wood. A big boulder called Pera Cagni, about which many legends are told, dominates the flatland.
It is told of a city given to the mercy of the devil so as he could destroy it. In order to accomplish his duty, he charged a huge boulder, made of solid gold, on his shoulders. He then left Monte Giove, flew over the Levanne and Col Girard, finally arriving over the Val Grande sky. It is also told that a hermit lived in the location where the Forno sanctuary is nowadays located. Seeing the devil fly over, the hermit started to intensely pray. His prayers weakened the devil who, exhausted from fatigue, let go the boulder that fell at the beginning of Piano Trione, where it now stands. The devil tried to recover the boulder but, in spite of all the labor, he did not succeed in his task. Popular imagination sees in the typical “cup formation”, visible on the boulder, traces of the wrathful devil claws. The popular saying “Calcante and Pietra Cagna are worth more than France and Spain” refers the believed great gold quantity hidden in the two boulders. As a matter of fact, in this area it is still possible to find traces of few mines, which were abandoned around 1600. A narrow tunnel, ending just after ten meters, has also been dug under Pietra Cagna.
On the opposite side, the Bec Ceresìn is visible further down. The valley has been named after this majestic rocky peak, visible from the valley floor, as Vallone del Trione (meaning of the tower).
This curious monolith, about thirty-five meters high, is the result of vertical fractures of the gneiss-granite rocks. It has always been of great interest due to the peculiarity and lumpiness of its quadrangular, truncated, pyramidal form with the greater base upward. It has been thought as unreachable for years. On the 28th of October 1926, after many attempts, a group of mountaineers from Turin climbed to the summit through the West wall by throwing a rope. As far as naturalist interest, “Bec Ceresìn” is a real wonder since, on the summit, it flourishes a scrub of “Pinups incinerate”, the only one to be found in the Lanzo Valleys, and a cherry tree, from which the monolith name. Up to a few decades ago the golden eagle used to nest on the summit. Due to the killing of an eagle chick by a hunter, the nesting site was abandoned.
At the end of the plateau, the mule track becomes a narrow and wearing trail going up the steep slope. It reaches the Gias di Mezzo (1961 m) and then Gias dei Laghi (2164 m), which is surrounded by the three little Laghi del Trione (2486 m). After a short descent, the trail, with a lot of curves, goes up a steep gully which culminates with Colle del Trione (2486 m) between Cima Leitòsa to the West and Punta del Rous to the East.
NOTE. The majestic panorama from Punta del Rous (2535 m) is worth a short deviation, which requires no more than 20 minutes.
The descent on the Val d’Ala side is very steep until reaching the hollow of Lago Vasuera (2237 m), usually almost dry at the end of the summer.
An iron pyrite body, exploited up to the XVII century, is clearly visible in the plain below the lake. The exhaustion of wood from which to obtain the charcoal necessary to melt the mineral caused the end of the mining and metallurgic activities in the Lanzo Valleys.
Descending through steep grassy slopes and crossing some gullies, you will reach at first the upper Alpi Vasuera, then the lower Alpi Vasuera and finally Pian Prà (1783 m), a wide expanse of gently sloping pastures. At the end of Pian Prà the larch wood begins. At the beginning the itinerary follows the dirt forest track and then you will find on the left a trail that crosses another larch wood. You may want to follow the dirt forest track: it also reaches Pian Bosco through a slightly longer but gentler route.
On reaching Pian Bosco (1664 m), pay attention!! You will find on your right, while descending, a boulder with the direction for Balme marked on it. Take the trail which, through little grassy plains at first and then a beech wood, will lead you to the Molera village (1478 m). Should you follow the dirt track (6 km), you would reach Mondrone, hamlet of Ala di Stura!!!
UTM 32T 362219 5019535 1656 m !!!!
he two hamlets, Molera and the underlying Molette, keep in their name memories of quarries for milling stones that were hewn and delivered everywhere in the Lanzo Valleys. The same is true for the family name Moletto: for generations this family lived here. Molette is the first hamlet you meet entering Balme village. Two hundreds meters higher, at the edge of a rock dominating the valley below, is the group of houses Molera. The location is sunny and open and, thanks to a particular favorable microclimate, some horse chestnut, cherry and walnut trees flourish in spite of the 1500 meters above sea level. On the 24th of December 1874 Antonio Castagneri, guide from Balme, and two mountaineers from Turin, Alessandro Martelli and Luigi Vaccarone, left to climb the Uja di Mondrone. It was the beginning of the Italian winter mountainereeing.
The road is now paved and you will descend until meeting the old country road. Go up for about one kilometer and a half, crossing the Chialambertetto hamlet.
The Chialambertetto houses cling to a gigantic stone slide, which seems to collapse from the Uja di Mondrone South wall. The hamlet is closed between two very steep gullies. Every time there is a heavy snowfall, avalanches slide down the gullies but they never have hit houses or killed people as it happened in all other Balme hemlets. For this reason, the little chapel has been dedicated to the Virgin of the Snow and a celebration is held on the 5th of August. The small settlement was born in the Middle Age as compound and iron forge. Its original name was “furnace” of Ala, then around ‘300 it changed in “house” or “field” of e certain Mr. Bertetto. It was an independent municipality from the XIII century to 1844 when it was incorporated in Balme municipality of which, in previous time, it was an enclave. Originally, the houses had been built higher up in the whereabouts of the modern arch bridge on the Stura creek. On the 17th of September 1665 a huge landslide destroyed them and the survivors rebuilt the hamlet further down the valley where other buildings already existed. On this occasion they also extended the little chapel already existing, as proved by the date 1677 engraved on the ridgepole. The building was then oriented not facing West as before, but South facing the new houses being built. At the end of the little village, by the trout pool, there is an ancient and characteristic “stone heap” furnace, very different from other furnaces in the valley, generally shielded by a slate roof. It probably is a legacy from the first inhabitants, miners and blacksmith from Valsesia and Bergamo. For quite a long time, these people must have cherished their ethnic and linguistic identity, just as it happened, until recent times, in Forno di Lemie, another mining village in the near Viù Valley. It was and still is a Chialambertetto tradition to knit the embroidered wool blazers typical of Balme costume.
You will now reach the Balme hollow and, leaving to your left the bridge leading to Albaron Village and Acque Minerali Pian della Mussa facility, walk another 100 meters and then follow the direction to Borgata Cornetti on your left. After 250 meters, you will find, on the right of the road, the Posto Tappa GTA “Les Montagnards”.