Alps of Italy
Val Maira, The Hidden Gem of Piedmont

Maira Valley, Alps of Piedmont

A Wild Valley in the Alps of Piedmont: Unspoiled Nature and Ancient Traditions

Article by : Verticalife
Pics by: Verticalife
Published: 26 02 2018

Fourteen municipalities lying along the 60-km course of the Maira River, plus nearly 200 clusters of minute hamlets scattered throughout the splendid, isolated side valleys. A population of 20,000 inhabitants, most of whom live in the small towns – Busca, Dronero, Roccabruna, Villar S. Costanzo – whereas less than 2,000 inhabitants live in the rest of the valley. These are the figures that describe this valley which is still intact and genuine, where nature is at the center of the stage.
Maira Valley offers a wild environment made of green pastures, chestnut woods, followed by larches, beech trees and pines, spectacular mountains and peculiar rock formations, like the "Ciciu" of Villar, which resemble the fairy chimneys of Turkey.

Maira Valley - Alps of Italy


Thanks to its deep connection with nature, Val Maira has become a perfect spot for outdoor sports. People and nature confront and attract one another, both in summer and winter.
Rocks offer the thrill of climbing, streams the excitement of canoeing and kayaking; the path through the woods are perfect for trekking on foot, horse or mountain-bikes. But you can also try hang-gliding, paragliding, orienteering.
During winter this scenario becomes the ideal setting for ski touring and cross-country skiing using both the perfectly marked circuits, also suitable for beginners, and the more fascinating off-piste itineraries.
There are also a couple of ski-lifts for those who do not want to forget the pleasure of downhill skiing. Lastly for the most daring, the absolute thrill of ice climbing on a frozen waterfall.
Want to know more about the sports you can practice in Val Maira? Read our article!

Outdoor in the Alps of Italy - Ski touring in Val Maira


Thanks to its long period of isolation during the past, Val Maira has succeeded in preserving its genuine culture and small treasures scattered in the small villages.
The upper valley offers a vast range of small alpine churches with marvellous frescos, like the one in Elva, which was painted in the 16th century by the famous "Maestro d'Elva". In the lower valley, in the Villar Village, the Benedictine Abbey and the church of S. Costanzo al Monte are a perfect example of Alpine architecture.
Also, the area of Stroppo and Acceglio has many Romanesque churches, castles and old noble houses with glabled facades.

Ancient villages and churches in Maira Valley, Piedmont


Val Maira, a remnant of Occitania, still preserves its traditions and ancient culture: its own language, the Occiten which is musical and poetical, its legends and both sacre and profane festivities, the ancient crafts, which are documented in small ethnographic museums or recovered from the local craft industries: weaving, ceramics, “lose” (a type of stone mainly used for building traditional houses and roofs), rustic furniture.
Also, ancient gastronomic traditions: the simple and genuine mountain food like fresh and aged Alpine cheese ("toma" in Piedmontese language), polenta with nettles, herb soup, potato gnocchi with cheese, ravioli, comau (a soup made with pumpkin and potatoes) and chestnuts-based desserts.

Traditional cuisine of Maira Valley, Piedmont

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