The Val Grande National Park is a protected natural area in the heart of the Lepontine Alps in the province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola in Piedmont. Established in 1992, it aims to protect one of the wildest territories of northern Italy. The Val Grande nature reserve and the Monte Mottac nature reserve are located within the National Park. The Val Grande National Park covers an area of 14,598 hectares, completely mountain, rich in vegetation, streams and rivers that flow a few kilometres from the Park into Lake Maggiore.
Let’s discover the wonders of the Val Grande National Park together.
The history of the park
Val Grande National Park is a wild territory with a peculiar anthropic history. The first settlements date back to the Iron Age and rock carvings, necropolises and funerary artefacts have been found. Very interesting is the “mask” of Vogogna in soapstone. Dating back to the Celtic period, it seems to represent the Celtic divinity Cernunnos, god of wild nature. The landscape changes with the arrival of shepherds and farmers who settled in the area. The territory of the Val Grande saw a huge development linked to the production of timber which stopped after the war. With the end of the war, the territory was definitively abandoned, allowing nature to regain possession of its spaces. In 1953, plans began to make Val Grande a national park to protect wild nature. The efforts that have been made over the years to protect the natural environment that dominates these valleys materialized in 1992.
Flora and fauna of the Val Grande National Park
The abandonment by man of these territories has allowed an ambitious development of vegetation and a great proliferation of fauna. You can meet typical Italian ungulates such as chamois, roe deer, deer and wild boar. There are plenty of predators characteristic of the Italian mountains such as the wolf, the fox, the golden eagle. Small carnivores such as weasels, martens and martens complete the wildlife picture.
The vegetation has long been affected by the work of the lumberjacks of the early twentieth century. For the production of alloys, the forest had been widely mistreated. With the subsequent abandonment, the flora began to thrive again. The young wood that now appears in the valley is made up of hazel, beech and chestnut trees. The deciduous forests are accompanied by the spectacular flowering of floral species such as arnica Montana and martagon lily.
Culinary and gastronomic specialities
The territory of the Val Grande National Park has a long tradition of pork production. The production of cold cuts, hams and bresaola from the Ossola Valley is very important. The valleys of the park are also famous for raising pigs in the wild, the animals have a ring to prevent their nose from ruining crops and pastures. In the valley, there are many cattle and goat farms for dairy production. The cheeses produced are Ossolano d’Alpe and Spress. Excellent bakery products are also produced in the National Park area, such as Coimo black bread and sweet bread.
Where to sleep green near the Val Grande National Park
Corte Merina farmhouse
Immersed in the nature of the national park, the Corte Merina farmhouse offers the opportunity to relax and surrounded by a genuine and home environment. The farmhouse is located 5 minutes from the Cicogna village where the wild nature landscape will give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in trekking to discover the traces of the peasant civilization and the centuries-old beech woods. A magical encounter between nature and history for relaxing holidays and eco-sustainability. The farm also offers the opportunity to camp with your own tent to make the adventure even wilder.
The b&b Il Feriolo in Baveno is a jewel of eco-sustainable construction. It is located on the Piedmont side of Lake Maggiore offering the possibility to choose between the mountains and the lake. Waking up being able to admire this enchanting landscape and sipping coffee while admiring the imposing mountains will make your stay unforgettable. The small town of Baveno, in the Gulf of Borromeo, is a pleasant tourist resort, a meeting point between nature and relaxation from where you can leave for fantastic excursions in the Val Grande National Park or between the Borromean islands.
Il Tiglio in Domodossola
In Domodossola you can find the enchanting b&b Il Tiglio that will host you between comfort and eco-sustainability. It is an excellent starting point to discover the valleys of the Val Grande National Park and the local lakes. The ski season can have a completely different flavour if lived respecting nature. From the b&b Il Tiglio you can travel for wonderful experiences of trekking, climbing, skiing and relaxing in the middle of nature.
The best excursions in the Val Grande National Park
The Val Grande National Park hosts itineraries for all age groups. The eco-museum of soapstone and stonemasons in Malesco is very interesting to visit. The museum also manages the Museum of the Val Grande National Park, the Zornasco Mill and the historic wash house.
The territory of the park is full of paths to discover nature. The park website offers a beautiful map to organize your excursions. Considering the nature of the wild landscape and the peculiarities of the area, it is advisable to be very careful and be accompanied by the park guides. Furthermore, within the thick vegetation, there is no network coverage. Common sense is the hiker’s best friend. If you don’t feel like expert hikers, the park offers easy – and wonderful – natural paths in the most external area of the park.
Curiosity and legends
The Val Grande National Park is a territory full of legends and characters related to local folklore. In this region, there is a great variety of herpetofauna. This would explain, therefore, the legends about the myth of the basilisk, called Re of Biss (king of Biss) in the local dialect. The basilisk is a snake with a crest with the ability to kill or petrify the unfortunate who look him in the eye. Remind you of something? Even in Italian parks, it is possible to relive the adventures of Harry Potter. The town of Civiasco (Valsesia) organizes the Night of the Re of Biss every year, with dedicated tastings and conferences. A magical experience for everyone!