Highlights and tour details
The Altopiano della Gardetta, a magnificent natural amphitheatre, is the connecting point between the Maira, Grana and Stura di Demonte Valleys and can be reached from Colle del Preit and Vallone di Unerzio (Valle Maira), from Colle di Valcavera and d'Esischie (Valle Stura and Grana). It can also be reached on foot, as well as by bicycle, thanks to the network of ancient roads created for military purposes in the first half of the 18th century, used by the Piedmontese and Italian defence armies until the end of World War II.
The proposed itinerary departs from Colle Valcalvera and goes along the dirt road for its entire length, as far as Passo della Gardetta and Grange Selvest.
Points of interest
The Altopiano della Gardetta, a geological and environmental heritage site in the province of Cuneo, still preserves the remains of paleosols pertaining to a seabed from prehistoric times. Fossil tracks and remains of prehistoric animals have also been found.
The plateau was already heavily militarised in the 18th century; the area was the scene of clashes between the Piedmontese and French armies in that century. At the end of the 19th century, the small barracks that today house the mountain hut were built on the plateau, together with the barracks of Rocca La Meja and Bandia, which constituted the westernmost fortifications of the defence line that started from Demonte and went up the Vallone dell'Arma. During the Second World War, the Gardetta plateau was an integral part of the so-called Western Alpine Wall.
The road network was then used by shepherds and local inhabitants. The landscape is nestled among beautiful peaks, such as the "dolomitic" Rocca d'la Meja.
NOTES: The Altopiano della Gardetta is included in numerous outdoor trails for hiking, mountain biking and e-biking. Given the historical significance of the place, the itineraries offer an appealing combination of outdoor activities and cultural tours. Situated on the Gardetta plateau is the homonymous mountain hut, housed in an old military shelter. There are numerous accommodation facilities and places to eat in the area and near the access trails.
NOTES: In August and on busy weekends, a shuttle service operates from Grange Salvest to the Altopiano della Gardetta. Tickets can be purchased on board the shuttle. The timetable can be viewed here.
Historical interest: Yes
Provinces crossed: Cuneo
Departure, arrival and municipalities crossed
Cuneosee on map