Stresa - Alps Tours: Formazza Valley, Toce Falls, Baceno's 11th-century Church. Stresa Lake Maggiore day tours to the Italian Alps. Bettelmatt cheese tasting in Ossola Valley - Piedmont. Authentic experiences
A full-day guided tour accompanied by an experienced local tour guide. An authentic experience in the Italian Alps near Stresa and lake Maggiore. Guided tours of the church of San Gaudenzio at Baceno, a National Monument.
A "Bettelmatt" cheese tasting is available at a typical local restaurant
- FORMAZZA VALLEY AND TOCE FALLS IN THE ALPS
Formazza Valley is made up of a few small mountain villages, everyone embellished by a pretty church and by typical local houses. Most of these houses are fairly old and were built of larch-wood; windows are small to provide protection from cold and wind in winter and their window sills are adorned with colourful potted flowers in summer.
This valley was colonized many centuries ago by a Swiss-Germanic people called Walser, expert mountaineers who arrived in this corner of the Alps through the Alpine Passes. The Walser name of the valley is "Pomattal".
Both languages - Italian and Walser- were spoken and
many centuries-old traditions are still being preserved.
For centuries, this frontier land has been at the crossroads
of important alpine routes that have been walked since the Paleolithic Age and that became major trade routes in the Middle Ages.
The highlight of the trip is the idyllic waterfall in the upper part of the valley: the infant river called Toce that originates from glaciers and whose waters run silent as far as that point, suddenly drops down 143 metres. Sliding down the steep rocks, Toce' s waters become foamy and noisy and the terrific sight is guaranteed. Then, the still small river continues to meander its way through Formazza Valley before ending its winding journey by flowing into Lake Maggiore. By the waterfalls is an oratory - a small church -dedicated to the Madonna della Neve (the Madonna of the Snow ) along with the historic hotel and restaurant that was opened in 1865, when the fame of these falls' and mountains' beauty had spread abroad and alpinism was becoming popular. Richard Wagner, Gabriele D' Annunzio, Giosué Carducci, Eleonora Duse, Antonio Fogazzaro, Queen Margherita were impressed by the appeal and privateness of this valley.
The Swiss Horace-Bénédict de Saussure, who is considered the founding father of modern mountaineering, climbed Formazza' s mountains twice ( in 1777 and again in 1783).
A renowned cheese is produced in this valley and in the nearby Antigorio: "Bettelmatt". Its name, in Walser language, comes from the Alpine pasture where it' s been produced for centuries.
On the way up to the waterfalls we have to go through a part of Antigorio Valley and en route we touch the village of Baceno, well-known in the area for its astonishing Romanesque Church dedicated to St. Gaudenzio. This big church is a National Monument and is well worth a visit. On the façade is a huge fresco representing St. Christopher, painted in 1542 to protect merchants, travellers and pilgrims that used to pass through Baceno on the way to the most important mountain passes to cross the Alps (Gries Pass, Arbola Pass and San Giacomo Pass), particularly from the 14th to the 18th century.
In Premia (Antigorio Valley) is a natural Thermal Spa nourished by hot springs pouring out water from the ground at a temperature of more than 40° C. It's a renowned water for its health-giving properties.
SUGGESTED FULL-DAY ITINERARY
We meet at your hotel lobby. In the morning we head north to Formazza Valley by car or by coach. We visit the valley and admire this beautiful waterfall (also known as
Frua Falls) before strolling through the alpine village of Riale in a fairy-tale setting. In the afternoon, on the way back, we stop at Baceno to visit the Church of St. Gaudenzio. Free time for your lunch in one of Formazza's villages or cheese tasting and / or lunch in a typical local restaurant.
Toce Falls are open from mid-June until the end of September, for a few hours on weekdays, for longer on Sundays and in August
Suitable clothing for a mountain trip is recommended (the falls being located at an altitude of more than 1600 metres)
If you are a group and wish to have lunch together, a fixed menu for a group lunch (tailored to your taste and budget) can be arranged
A means of transport (a car, a minibus or a coach) can easily be hired for the day
It is possible to add a Bettelmatt cheese tasting as well as a sampling of other Formazza's and Ossola valley's produce
Tour suitable for groups, families and couples
"Mountains are the great cathedrals of the earth..." - John Ruskin
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Riale, Formazza valley. Ossola Italian Lake District