If there is one place that can give you the feeling of having reached paradise, it is Alpe Veglia. You can reach it by leaving your car in San Domenico di Varzo and walking up from the bottom of the valley along a dirt road with limited traffic. Going up along the hairpin bends and skirting a valley that might remind you of an American canyon, a magical vision will open before your eyes, almost unexpected: a vast basin of meadows surrounded by mountains (the Lepontine Alps) among which stands out the Monte Leone with its 3553 meters. At this point you will feel like you are in another dimension. Streams winding, herds of grazing cows and tiny villages with stone houses animate the esplanade.
Walking around the basin (without having to go uphill, don’t worry) you will meet a spectacular waterfall, cross bright larch woods and walk along little bridges on the streams that descend from the sides of the basin. At this point you need a little effort (which will be totally rewarded), because with a very short climb in the middle of the forest you will find the jewels of the basin: two small lakes surrounded by larch trees, the Lakes of the Witches. The crystal water is shallow and very clear, so you can see ancient larch trunks lying on the bottom. Along the way you will not hear engine noises but only the sounds of cowbells of the grazing cows, the gurgling of water flowing in the streams, the singing of mountain birds and the whistle of marmots, and if you are lucky you will also be able to see them.
The fauna of this natural oasis is common to that of other protected areas of the Alps, so are present, in addition to marmots and numerous varieties of birds including the golden eagle, ibexes, chamois, deer, roe deer, foxes, badgers and many other species.
The Alpe Veglia basin is of glacial origin and is included in an important protected area that extends from the Cairasca valley to the Devero valley, in the province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola. Together with the Devero, since 1995 Alpe Veglia has constituted the Regional Natural Park Veglia-Devero.
If you love hiking and natural wonders, then your walk cannot stop at the Lakes of the Witches but must absolutely proceed to the other two lakes that are hidden within the nature park, Lake d’Avino and Lake Bianco.
To catch your breath and refresh yourself you can stop at mountain refuges like the Città di Arona refuge, a large but characteristic stone building owned by the Arona section of the CAI. There you can rest after trekking and taste the specialties of the area. And I assure you that a tasty polenta is the key to live the mountain at 360°. Try it to believe.
To start enjoying the mountain air at home you can delight yourself with the Piedmontese delicacies that you can find on Piedmont Delights, the first e-commerce dedicated to Piedmontese enograstronomy. Taste the cheeses, close your eyes, you do not feel like you are in the meadows of the wonderful valley of Alpe Veglia?