Holidays are known to always leave memories in our hearts, and the Val di Gesso, a holiday in Piedmont by camper, even if it only lasted a few days, has given us emotions that we share with you today.
The Val di Gesso
Elected in 2019 by the Lonely Planet guide – Best in Travel, the most beautiful region in the world for its roads, landscapes and good food and wine, Pje ‘monte (at the foot of the mountain) is definitely a beautiful idea for a holiday in camper. In this regard, we invite you to read another of our Piedmontese itineraries in the article
This time instead we go to the Cuneo area where, on the ancient Roman Pedo, from San Dalmazzo, the Val di Gesso begins towards Valdieri which shortly after forks in the valleys of Entracque and Terme di Valdieri.
If you think of a holiday in Piedmont by camper, this valley is an ideal destination in our opinion. Thanks to the historical presence in the valley of a Savoyard royal hunting reserve, the flora and fauna environment has been better preserved than elsewhere and it is not uncommon to spot specimens of chamois and ibex.
Even today traces of the presence of the royal family – such as hunting houses – embellish various locations. So it is an ideal destination for those who love outdoor living, hiking or simple walks in the middle of nature.
Val di Gesso for a holiday in Piedmont by camper
The Val di Gesso is known for its natural beauty and center for winter sports, in summer it becomes the base for exciting excursions in the Maritime Alps Natural Park and also reaches the highest peaks that divide the Italian side from the French park of the Mercantour. They are known by the name of unique paths precisely because they offer unforgettable excursions.
We remind you that we are in the largest protected area of Piedmont, characterized by streams and suggestive lakes, especially going up in altitude. We went by camper to the Lake of the Ruins where there is a small stop and camping just before the barrier, but in season and on Sunday it is better to ask as the area is very popular.
The two main destinations in this valley are definitely Entraque and Valdieri.
Entraque populated during the year by less than 1,000 inhabitants, has a well-kept historical center, with stone houses, monuments, a museum and numerous shops for tasting the typical products of this part of the region. In fact, in two dairies in the area you can buy excellent tomini and tome of both sheep’s and cow’s milk. A typical of Entraque is the potato whose peculiarity is usually celebrated in September.
We are also in an area that was a hunting area in the time of King Emanuele II, where he had houses and hunting lodges here. From Entracque in 15 km you can go to Terme di Valdieri, famous for its ancient baths, leave the camper in the parking lot just after the Hotel Turismo and from there go up on foot to the Piana di Valasco about 4 km walk.
Piano del Valasco at 1763 asl. , is a wonderful plain formerly occupied by a lake basin where in the 19th century Vittorio Emanuele II had one of his most suggestive hunting houses built. Numerous mule tracks departed from the Plan, commissioned by the king, who Mussolini later rearranged for the fortification of the borders with France. Until the beginning of the war, barracks, bunkers and roads were built which in many stretches, such as the perch of the Vallescura lakes, were paved and dug into the rock to overcome the most impervious stretches. A unique historical and military engineering heritage in the Alps, which enrich the splendid panorama that can be enjoyed from these places.
In Entracque there are two particular places not to be missed and to visit:
- The Men and Wolves Wildlife Center which covers an area of 8 kilometers, in the locality of Casermette, 1 km from the town. It is the first wildlife center in the Alps entirely dedicated to the wolf: how the animal arrived in the Alps, the training and life of the flocks, the hunting techniques. A particularity is the history of Liguabue, the wolf that went from the mountains of Parma to the Maritime Alps. We know that the Alps have been the natural habitat of wolves for many years, and in the center of Entraque you can also find an exhibition center. Here the section is dedicated to the man-wolf relationship: from the myths of ancient Rome to the wolf Alberto of the comics.
- The ENEL Luigi Einaudi Center to understand how hydroelectric power plants and dam pumping stations work. The plant is the largest hydroelectric plant in Italy and one of the largest in Europe. It consists of three spectacular reservoirs, two totally artificial (Chiotas and Piastra lakes) and one created with minor works on the pre-existing Lake della Rovina. A particular free and guided tour brings people on the train to visit the pumping stations and turbines in the basement that allow you to understand how water transforms into energy. We remind you that this visit must be booked, even more so now after the new provisions on visits to museums. We could only visit the first part, equally interesting. All info can be found on the tourism website or at +39.0171.978811.
In Valdieri, a very famous thermal center, you can visit:
- The Terme di Valdieri which represent an important tourist attraction for the therapeutic properties of the 32 hot sulphurous water sources. Already known in Roman times, in fact, at about 1400 m altitude, hot sulphurous water gushes out which is used in various forms (mineral waters, algae or caves) for the treatment of a wide range of ailments. Inside from June to September, a visitor center hosts a permanent exhibition dedicated to the Maritime Alps Park and the Gesso Valley nature reserves, as well as various temporary exhibitions.
- The natural amphitheater of the Valdieri Necropolis; an excavation area consisting mainly of finds dating back to the end of the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. Today it houses the reproduction of a Bronze Age house, a regional museum where exhibits and jewels found during excavations are exhibited. The collection includes ceramic artefacts and precious bronze kits, in excellent condition. The funeral enclosure, inserted in a particularly suggestive landscape context, can be reached from the center with a short walk. Open from June to September on Saturday and Sunday for information call the Valdieri Info Point tel. 0171/97344.
Where to stop
The stop can be made in the various campsites and rest areas located along the valley and in Entraque we stopped at camping il Gesso, simple and 1 km from the center, but well cleaned, with a small internal market and swimming pool.
Moline camper parking area a few hundred meters from the village of Entracque. The structure is very large and is divided by low walls., It comfortably houses 60 campers with the possibility of connections for a 50 of vehicles.
Location Lago delle Rovine, 1500 m asl downstream of the dam of Lake Ciotas. Parking area on lawn in a splendid position on the lake, tables, barbecue, toilets. Seasonal opening, for a fee. Starting point for easy excursions to the dam, the lake and the Genova refuge.
Sant’Anna di Valdieri stop at the “Sant’Anna Alpine Center”, for a fee. Seasonal opening, 25 pitches, gravel, water, cockpit, lighting, electricity, toilets with showers, tent space, bar. Leaving Valdieri, follow the signs for Sant’Anna di Valdieri, and after a few km you will arrive in the village cross the bridge over the stream and keep left.
For information on the openings of the structures and on the stops, given the current pandemiological situation, we recommend you consult the site:
Local Tourist Office of the Cuneo area
For everything else: good km