Highlights and tour details
In 1553, Valle Anzasca was visited by Joachim de Annono, "homo da bene" and official of the Spanish governor of Milan. He was a powerful man who came to check whether the Valle Anzasca inhabitants were able to pay the exorbitant monthly tax. He remained in the valley for 14 days and on his return, he wrote a precise and documented report. This was the first description of the Strà Granda that goes up from Piedimulera to Macugnaga and then climbs the steep mountain of Monte Moro and leads to Valle di Saas. At the centre of his journey is the medieval road of Valle Anzasca: "... I find this valley has very little or close to nothing as far as flatness is concerned, is roughly sixteen miles long, takes place among very high mountains in the middle of which a great torrent called Anza flows, descending from an icy mountain, with such ice being permanent at the bottom of such Valley, and with such torrent becoming a Brook among many brooks which go down here and there among the aforementioned mountains, and to reach such valley you must go up a mountain for about a mile so as to find the straight road built among these mountains, about an arm and a half wide, and in such place such road is more or less very tall and steep;..." 400 years on from the walk of Joachim de Annono, this path can still be travelled today. The history of the valley has passed on the worn-out paving that marks its hairpin bends. Not the Great History, but the humble and hidden history of muleteers who went to Switzerland or the valley people who went down to the market of Vogogna to stock up on grain. The shiny paving of each hairpin bend has witnessed the furious village wars and the passing of loads of gold coming down to the towns. Walking on the Strà Granda of Anzasca means travelling back in time on a historical infra-village communication path. Above Piedimulera there is the Oratory of San Giovanni Nepomuceno, a significant protector against drownings and floods (even against gossip mongers!); in Mezzamulera, famous for its hemp weaving, there are special recesses in the wall for loading mules. In Cà Turnal an anvil, a pincer and a hammer engraved on a stone slab bear the Ghibelline coat of arms used at Ferraria, one of the factions that stained Ossola with blood in the 16th century. There are also ovens in the hamlets for the collective baking of bread a few times a year, the consortium presses for marc (a little masterpiece of rural engineering can be found in Morolongo), the windmills and millstones for extracting walnut oil.
There are hundreds of findings of peasant culture material scattered along the Strà Granda which becomes the thematic path to discover the Alpine civilization developed among these mountains. Furthermore, at the head of the valley, the magnificence of the east wall of Monte Rosa, two-thousand metres of rock and ice, the only wall of Himalayan dimensions among the Alps. The valley is anomalous, with two cultures (the Walser culture and the Romance culture), which preserves a high degree of naturalness and ancient harmony between man and environment.
Points of interest
In addition to the scattered traces of rural life, the route reveals a continuous succession of churches, oratories, votive chapels and frescoes. The upper part of Passo del Moro offers breathtaking scenic views of the East wall of Monte Rosa and of the 4000 m of the Valle di Saas. Both Macugnaga and the towns of the Valle di Saas are Walser colonies around Monte Rosa.
From Piedimulera to Macugnaga there is a bus service. From Macugnaga to Passo del Moro there are cable cars that allow you to shorten or cancel the most difficult stage
By car: A8 motorway from Milan or A4 motorway from Torino and continuation on A26 motorway for Gravellona Toce. Continue on SS33 del Sempione to the Piedimulera exit. From Piedimulera the SS 549 of Valle Anzasca goes up as far as Macugnaga.
Itinerary code: SGR
Phone coverage: Good
Recommended period: June - September
Historical interest: Yes
Access by public transport: Yes
Classification: Medium and low mountain provincial
Provinces crossed: Distretto dei Laghi
Notes on public transport
Departure, arrival and municipalities crossed
- Stra' Granda (50,20 km)
- Stra' Granda Stage 1A: Pontegrande - Bannio Anzino (1,10 km)
- Stra' Granda Stage 1: Piedimulera - Pontegrande (12,13 km)
- Stra' Granda Stage 2: Frazione di Pontegrande - Frazione Staffa (18,16 km)
- Stra' Granda Stage 3: Frazione Staffa - Passo del Monte Moro (7,33 km)
- Stra' Granda Stage 4: Passo del Monte Moro - Saas-Almagell (11,47 km)