Autumn stands for auburn, burnt orange leaves dotting the landscape, nippy air, a stove burning and hearty soups. Foliage seems to be the keyword and people enjoy wearing thicker clothes, waiting for the snow to arrive. Whether you live in the mountains, by the lake or at the seaside, autumn conjures up images of radiant, relaxing landscapes and the perfect combination of light, shades and hues to obtain the ideal shot.
We may be biased, Piedmont offering such a kaleidoscope of diverse sights and sceneries, but certainly the mountains seem to deliver the best vistas.
Take Valsesia, for instance. Where else can you find such an alluring combination of remote, wild, verdant landscapes, mountain lakes, eternal glaciers, glorious vineyards, picture-postcard valleys and authentic, genuine people?
Charming all year round, Valsesia perhaps shows its more appealing side in the fall, and it’s not just kicking leaves or sitting in a bar drinking a delicious, warm cioccolata.
1) Hiking lovers come!
Alagna Valsesia, the “end of the line” for this long, green valley, is also the ideal starting point for numerous excursions. Rifugio Pastore, Capanna Resegotti for the more adventurous, Colle Mud, Passo del Turlo or Alpe Campo are popular destinations, and yet we bet very few have visited the Tailly Lakes.
Such a captivating, almost mystical place whose path will take you along ravines, meadows, valleys and magical lakes carved into the rocks. A 3.5 hour-journey for a 1,200 m elevation gain and a sensational, unique, isolated and most charming area.
You will have a fabulous view of Dorf and Follu, extending to majestic Monte Rosa.
2) Discover the local history
Yes, this is Val d’Otro and it is simply a fairy-tale landscape. You may expect Heidi to step out any moment. A journey to the captivating village of Dorf is one you will not easily forget. Here, the Walser population wrote important pages of their most interesting story and their legacy is to be found in the sensationally well preserved huts.
Walk a little further towards Pianmisura, a little more up Passo Foric and you’re in for a surprise.
It really is Lord of the Rings meets the Little House on the Prairie!
3) It’s a cycling paradise
Did you know Valsesia is also a cycling paradise? Any bike lover will know that autumn is just the perfect season to ride as the sunrays are not too strong and the breeze will make your journeys a joy. With the highest village at just a little under 1200 meters, Valsesia is perfect in mid-season, both for road bikes, but especially for mountain bikes.
There are plenty of cycle paths, such as the one linking Balmuccia to Alagna Valsesia or Mera – Meggiana – Rassa along stupendous Val Sorba with staggering views over Monte Rosa.
If you visit Alpe Pizzo once, you will be struck. How can a valley hide such beauties? It’s time you discover them.
4) A spiritual destination
Italy being a land of hidden gems, you will find that art triumphs in the mountains as well. Visit the Sacro Monte di Varallo for a trip along the New Jerusalem. With its 45 chapels and the tranquil Via Crucis starting from Varallo, you will find peace and serenity in this most unique sanctuary. Don’t forget to check out the unique Parete Gaudenziana in Santa Maria delle Grazie, at the starting point of the Via Crucis.
A masterpiece of Gaudenzio Ferrari, one of the most famous artists of the XVI Century, you can simply find respite in the fabulous colours, delicate gestures, and unique drama unfolding in front of your eyes.
If you still have room for some culture, pay a visit to the Pinacoteca, Piedmont’s second most important art gallery! Varallo will not disappoint!
5) Climbing at its finest
Autumn means crisp air and can only mean one thing for climbers: good grip! The rock will hold you and you can practice your Spiderman moves up fabulous walls. Valsesia is home to exciting crags, so just take your pick: Fervento in the Val Sermenza, Historic Parete Calva (literally “bald face”) – do you remember Fra Dolcino? – will grant fabulous views on Val Sorba and the central valley. The Torre di Boccioleto is a classic and should not be missed.
And of course Ara: a historic crag with so many aces up its sleeve. You can climb in the sun and enjoy t-shirt weather well into late autumn.
What if the snow blankets the fields and trees sooner than expected? Time to dig out skis and skins and go up some mountain paths – always check the forecast of course and do not overdo it! Or simply take a stroll in the snow and wait for the fabulous Monterosa Ski area to open (usually late November). The majesty of the mountains is waiting!
This is Valsesia. This is Piedmont. A sensational region to suit all tastes.