A scenic tramp along historical Walser trails between the villages of Fondovalle (Stafulwald) in the Val Formazza (Pomatt) and Salecchio Superiore (Ober Saley) at the end of the Val Antigorio. The trail winds its way through beech, spruce and larch, to the mountain hamlet of Vova. You will enjoy a scenic view of the valley from Premia to Crodo.
Follow the main road down to the valley from Fondovalle by a reservoir and the new tunnel portal. After approximately 500 metres a large trail branches off from the main road. Signs and trail panels point the way towards the beech forest. Slightly uphill at first, the trail then levels off. After a second steep stretch, you will pass by an old stone cabin. A pond can be seen glistening among the trees: Then the forest becomes less dense and the first buildings of Attilone (1249 m) appear. In Attilone a 17th century chapel can be seen. It is dedicated to the Holy Virgin and used to attract Walser pilgrims from the Formazza (Pomatt) and Agaro (Agher) valleys.
Just outside the village the trail almost disappears in the shrub. A steep cleft will take you to a thick spruce wood. After crossing a narrow scree you will get to a creek bed and walk across it to find the climbing trail. Walk along a small ridge until you get to the main road to Alpe Vova (1448 m). The wide hollow of the valley houses several pastures with farmsteads and stables: the white sparkle of the Sant’Antonio chapel is particularly enticing. Ignore the first sign to Salecchio and continue a little short further along the valley, on an idyllic flat. To your right a steep part leads to Alpe Giove and Busin Pass (2493 m). Starting at an altitude of approximately 1800 metres calcareous Alpine dry meadows cover the ground of the valley from the white rock outcrops to the mountain summits. In a larch wood you will find the Franzen Haus, your highest excursion point today. The lovely place, on the backdrop of Pizzo Martello and the Monte Giove was once inhabited all year round. ON the left side of the trail an old limekiln can still be seen. Walk another few hundred metres through pastures and larch woods and you will find yourself on a little hill. Right below you lies Salecchio Superiore: a little lower is Salecchio Inferiore (Unner Saley) and the Antigorio Valley. In a few minutes a mule track will take you to the old Walser hamlet. The last inhabitants left in the summer of 1966. Now in the sun-burnt larch cabins human life only makes its presence felt in the summer. A little distance below the village the hut “Zum Gora” can be found.
Trail description: Andreas Weissen
Landscape, NATURA2000, protected areas
Landscape and nature
The Natura 2000 “Veglia-Devero-Monte Giove” site’s eastern portion lies inside the Attilone area. Within relatively short distances different types of forest can be found (beech, spruce, larch). In the past men carved “green islands” into the forest; the mowed meadows and alpine pastures that can still be seen today. Above the ancient timberline calcareous alpine pastures dominate the landscape
Protected areas, proposed Emerald sites, Natura 2000sites
• Alpi Veglia e Devero - Monte Giove Natura 2000 site
Wildlife, Nata 2000 / Emerald species
Birds: Dryocopus martius (ca), Cinclus cinclus (ca), Monticola saxatilis (RL CH)
Other species of interest along the trail:
Lilium bulbiferum (RL CH / §), Paradisea liliastrum (RL CH / §), Tulipa australis (RL CH / §), Parnassius mnemosyne (RL CH), Chenopodium bonus-henricus (ca), Lilium martagon (RL CH / §), Orchis ustulata (RL CH / §), Danthus carthusianorum (ca), Epilobium angustifolium (ca), Larix decidua ( ca), Gentiana purpurea (ca), Luzula nivea (ca), Pulsatilla apiflora (ca), Aster alpinus (ca), Leontopodium alpinum (ca), Nigritella nigra (RL CH / §), Primula halleri (RL CH / E), Saponaria lutea (RL CH), Euphydryas aurinia ssp. Debilis (RL CH), Androsace vitaliana (RL CH / §), Gentiana kochiana (ca), Juncus jacquinii (ca), Pulsatilla vernalis (ca).
RL CH: Switzerland’s Red List of threatened species
§: Species enjoying national protection
E: Endemic species
ca: Characteristic species
Animals, Natura2000 species (not necessarily found along the trail)
Insects and crustaceans: Erebia christi, Euphydryas aurinia, Parnassius apollo, Parnassius mnemosyne, Maculinea arion.
Birds: Aquila chrysaetos, Falco peregrinus, Bonasa bonasia, Lagopus mutus helveticus, Tetrao tetrix tetrix, Alectoris graeca saxatilis, Bubo bubo, Glaucidium passerinum, Aegolius funereus, Dryocopus martius, Lanius collurio, Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax. Pernis apivorus, Milvus migrans, Milvus milvus, Gypaetus barbatus, Circus aeruginosus, Circus cyaneus, Circus pygargus, Tringa glareola, Alcedo atthis, Lullula arborea, Anthus campestris, Emberiza hortulana.
Mammals: Lynx lynx, Plecotus auritus
More wildlife information
Habitats: chestnut forests, mown meadows and extensive pastureland, rich meadows, and hay fields, spruce and larch forests, calcareous meadows, mat grassland (with other alpine pasture grass).
• ”Alpe Veglia e Alpe Devero: conservation of high mountain meadows and bogs”, Dr. Nat. Paolo Pirocchi, Dr. Nat. Giovanna Ianner, Parco Naturale Alpe Veglia e Alpe Devero, 2003.
WWF’s tips for hikers
Plan each stage carefully, purchase a 1:25000 map, use light but sturdy equipment (hiking boots, rain cape, binoculars…). Be sure to carry a small supply of water and food. We suggest you taste local food (possibly organic) at resting places and restaurants.
Do not litter, do not pick up flowers or rocks and in no way disturb the local fauna. It is unsafe for inexperienced hikers to leave the marked trails and it may cause disturbance to wildlife.
History and culture
You are in “Walser country”. In the 13th century German-speaking inhabitants of the Wallis left their homeland to settle high-altitude mountain areas. Walser settlements were established in Italy, Austria, Liechtenstein and in the Swiss cantons of Ticino and Graubünden. From Fondovalle, in the Formazza Valley, the historical Walser trail leads to Bosco Gurin, in Ticino, through the Bosco Gap (Guriner Furggu in Walser German). Our excursion follows in the Walser footsteps albeit in the opposite direction, towards Attilone, Salecchio and Agaro. Beyond the Bocchetta d’Arbola gap you will reach the Binn Valley and the Goms area, the original Walser homeland.
The Walser developed special famring techniques to be able to live all year round at high altitudes: they covered their needs with agriculture (where conditions allowed it) and cattle or sheep farming. All tools and building materials came from local materials, as the Franzens Haus limekiln clearly shows today.
In the 20th century many Walser settlements were abandoned: Agaro was submerged by the waters of a hydroelectric reservoir; Saleccio and Attilone are now depopulated. Only in the Formazza valley people were able to stay thanks to tourism. Today only old people still speak the “Walliser Titsch”, the old language of the Walser. For everyday use, the predominant language is Italian.
• The Walser Museum, in the Casa Forte in Ponte (Zum Steg) in the Formazza (Pomatt) Valley tells the impressive story of the Walser.
• The international Walser association manages a virtual museum with precious information on the Walster history, culture, and economy.
Next stage: Emerald Trail Wallis-Piedmont: Stage 2