The Alpe Veglia to Alpe Devero trail is a classical nature park excursion and it is therefore very popular. This diverse trail provides an overall impression of the park and its most important habitats. The route is easy and pleasant until the steep and stony uphill road to the Pian Sass Mor in the Valtendra Pass.
Cornù, a settlement near the Città di Arona Hut, on the Rio Frua’s west bank, is your starting point today. The trail is well marked, with GTA (“Grande Traversata delle Alpi”, “Great Alpine Trail”) and “SI” (“Sentiero d’Italia”, “Trails of Italy”) signs. After a short climb through alpine pastures you will reach a larch wood. From there follow the stream. To your left the trail branches off to Lago Nero. Keep right in the direction of the Alpe Pian du Scricc, where you will cross the Rio Frua, and towards Pian Sass Mor (2086 m). Here the most demanding section of the trail begins: the ascent through scree from Pian Sass Mor to the Valtendra Pass (2432 m), from where you view will dominate the depths of the Bondolero Valley. A narrow track cuts across southern-facing slopes with biodiversity-rich calcareous meadows up to the Scatta d’Orogna (2461 m). In front of you the Buscagna opens up: a high-altitude valley with pastures, larch woods, peat bogs, and an idyllic pond, the Lago Nero (Black Lake). Follow the Buscagna stream through its namesake valley to the first buildings of the Buscagna Higher Pasture (Alpe Buscagna Superiore). A little farther on a sign points the way to the Lago Nero: a worthy detour. Larch trees cling to what once was a rock wall while the pond glitters like a dark mirror among the trees. A place where you may want to linger a bit. Overcome the last drop zigzagging along a pleasant track to the Alpe Devero, a wide plateau with peat bogs and mat grassland. Piedimonte, the first settlement at the feet of the slope, is the Alpe Devero’s best preserved hamlet. Contrary to Alpe Veglia, Devero can be reached by car. Thus hundreds of tourists flood it on Sundays, from Milan and Varese. As a matter of fact the Alpe Devero is not included in the Park’s precincts, but it lies in the “protected area” where less stringent measures apply. Here, for example, hunting is allowed contrary to what happens inside the Park.
Trail description: Andreas Weissen
Landscape, NATURA2000, protected areas
Landscape and nature
Along the classic trail between Veglia and Devero you will meet the park’s most important habitats: mat grassland, larch, calcareous meadows, dwarf-shrub hedgerows, and peat bogs. The park’s management strives to conserve these habitats by, for example, putting up electrical fences around the peat bogs to keep cattle away. Horses are used to avoid the growth of bush over pastures. The Veglia-Devero nature park and Devero’s protected area are areas of European importance, under the Habitat and Birds Directive.
Protected areas, proposed Emerald sites, Natura 2000sites
• Alpe Veglia e Devero Nature Park
• Alpi Veglia e Devero - Monte Giove, Natura 2000 site
Wildlife, Natura2000 species / along the trail
Insects: Erebia christi (RL CH / § / E / S)
Birds: Dryocopus martius (ca), Aquila chrysaetos (ca / S), Lagopus mutus (ca / S), Cinclus cinclus (ca / S), Monticola saxatilis (RL CH), Tetrao tetrix (ca / S)
Other species of interest
Aquilegia alpina (RL CH / § / S), Chenopodium bonus-henricus (ca), Saxifraga cotyledon (RL CH),
Dactylorhiza sambucina (RL CH / §), Epilobium angustifolium (ca), Larix decidua (ca), Gentiana purpurea (ca), Luzula nivea (ca), Pulsatilla apiflora (ca), Erebia tyndarus (ca), Erebia aethiops (ca), Alnus viridis (ca), Eriophorum scheuchzeri (RL CH), Menyanthes trifoliata (RL CH), Parnassia palustris (ca), Potentilla palustris (RL CH), Drosera rotundifolia (RL CH / §), Somatochlora alpestris (RL CH), Aeshna juncea (RL CH), Carex bicolor (RL CH), Linaria alpina (ca), Tofielda pusilla (RL CH), Saxifraga aizoides (ca), Parnassius phoebe (RL CH), 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), Ranunculus kuepferi (ca), Campanula excisa (RL CH / E), Eritrichum nanum (CH / §), Loiseleuria procumbens (ca).
RL CH: Switzerland’s Red List of threatened species
§: Species enjoying national protection
E: Endemic species
ca: Typical species
Wildlife, Natura2000 species (not necessarily on 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 information on plants and animals
Habitats in the area: mown meadows and extensive pastures, rich meadows, hay fields, larch, peat bogs, alder, high-stem shrub, river bankx with pioneer vegetation, calcareous meadows, mat grassland (and other Alpine grassland), dwarf hedgerow and wind-exposed areas.
”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
Veglia and Devero were summer pastures for centuries. Milk was used mainly for the production of cheese. The cheese from these pastures, particularly Val Formazza and Alpe Forno Superiore’s Bettelmatt, and Devero’s Sangiatto are renowned and paid for handsomely all over Italy.
Historic Hotel Monte Leone (1884) in Veglia and the Locanda Alpina (1887) are testimony to the existence of some tourism activities, specifically aimed at British travellers, between the 19th and 20th centuries. Today a small ski station exists on Monte Cazzola, in Devero. Both in summers and winters the pasture is flooded by day tourists. Deep in the mountain, below the Alpe Veglia, lies the Simplon tunnel. In the 1070’s there was a plan for the construction of a reservoir in the Veglia hollow. However engineers feared for the tunnel stability and the project was abandoned. In 1978 Veglia became a protected area. In 1990 the nature park was established and the original protected area was included in its boundaries.
• Piedimonte, Alpe Devero best-preserved settlement
• Locanda Alpino, Alpe Devero’s oldest inn
Next stage: Emerald Trail Wallis-Piedmont: Stage 10
Stage before: Emerald Trail Wallis-Piedmont: Stage 8