Highlights and tour details
The first documented Tour of Monviso was carried out by the Englishman David Forbes with a local guide on 1 July 1839. Departing from Valle del Guil, Prof. Forbes and his guide went up to Colle delle Traversette, passed to the East of Monviso (most likely going down to Pian del Re and then going up to the Laghi del Viso lakes), crossed the watershed most probably at Passo di San Chiaffredo and went down into the Vallanta valley; from there they went back to Valle del Guil, then down again to La Monta in the same day.
The Englishmen Whateley and Jenkinson repeated the route on 13 and 14 September in 1854, this time in two days. On the first day, departing from the Valle del Guil, they crossed the Colle delle Traversette and Passo di San Chiaffredo, and stayed overnight in the Vallanta Valley; on the second day they returned to Valle del Guil through the Vallanta Pass, and then moved to Val Pellice through Colle Seilliere. Due to the lack of available resting places, the first tourist guides of the 19th century recommended doing the Tour of Monviso in a single day, shortening the route, compared to that of Forbes, passing through the Passo delle Sagnette; in this way the hike was estimated to last about 12 hours. In the 20th century the Tour of Monviso became a hiking "classic"; already known to Italian hikers in the 60s, it was made popular by French hikers from the 70s. The ring of several stages around Monviso is one of the most spectacular high-altitude trekking trails in Europe, offering panoramic views of the different profiles of the "Stone King" and the experience of a nature that is protected by two natural parks, where environments change constantly.
Along the way, you will come across the daring rock faces of the southern massif, the crystal-clear lakes with their blue-green reflections of the Vallone delle Giargiatte, the twisted stone pine trees of the wood called Bosco dell’Alevé and the splendid stretches of water of the upper Po Valley. Also noteworthy are the panoramic "Sentiero del Postino", the historic Buco di Viso, the vast spaces of the Queyras and the exceptional viewpoint of Cima Losetta.
It is possible to cover the Grand Tour of Monviso by departing from one of the Italian valleys: Valle Po, Valle Varaita or Valle Pellice, or from Valle del Guil in France. The complete tour can take from two to a maximum of six days. Having 4 or 5 days available, it becomes really interesting to do the entire ring that also includes the upper Valle Pellice, passing through the beautiful and pastoral basin of Conca del Prà and Rifugio Barbara Lowrie. The ring is all classified as level E, except for the Sentiero del Postino and the stretch of Pian Mait - Colle Armoine (EE).
Points of interest
The key passage of this crossing is the "Buco di Viso", de facto the first alpine tunnel, also called "Tunnel du sel" because of the salt coming from maritime Provence. It was in 1475 that Ludovico II, Marquis of Saluzzo, decided to guarantee himself an outlet to the sea in order to facilitate the salt trade, essential at the time for food preservation, but also as a food supplement for the Marquisate's livestock. He therefore ordered a tunnel to be dug near Colle delle Traversette, on the watershed ridge between the Upper Po Valley and Upper Queyras, just north of Monviso. The first alpine tunnel was certainly the work of experienced professionals if one considers that the tunnel was excavated without using gunpowder, which had certainly already been discovered but was not yet in use in the mines of the time. By exploiting the softer rock of the obvious geological fault line that ran through the entire tunnel and using picks and chisels, the first tunnel in the Alps was built.
Reach Pian del Re and take the trail on the Right side following the signs "Colle delle Traversette" V16. Start a long climb, with steep hairpin bends in places; on the left, leave the junction for the former military trail (trail sign V21 or "Sentiero del Postino") which takes to the Giacoletti Refuge once again, and continue on a long series of hairpin bends. Having reached a debris basin at the edge of Pian Mait, go around the basin on a semi-circular route on the right, then move to the right orographic side to climb the steep debris slope on hairpin bends where you will find the ruins of the small barracks that was there to defend the hill. Immediately after the small barracks, leave the trail (trail sign V22) to the right for Passo del Luisas and climb up hairpin bends, between scree, behind the military building. The fork, on the right, for Buco di Viso (2882 m) is a short distance away.
Itinerary code: GTM
Recommended period: June, July, Auguat, September
Historical interest: Yes
Provinces crossed: Cuneo, Torino
Departure, arrival and municipalities crossed
Rifugio Barbara Lowrie
10060 Bobbio Pellice (TO)
Torinosee on map