This stage of the trail, entirely on Italian territory, will take you through one of the wildest and most enchanting valleys of the Varese Province, the Val Veddasca, with the villages of Curiglia, Viasco, and Monteviasco. In this area we will mostly walk the so-called “Strà di Caver” (“Goat Tracks”) trail, drawn and maintained by the Comunità Montana delle Valli del Luinese, that are also ideal for horse riding and mountain biking.
The stage start on the top of one of the most impressive mountains of the region, the Monte Lema. Start your descent here along the well marked trail and follow the signs to “Alpe Arasio” pasture first, then to the “Madonna della Guardia” chapel. Pass by the scenic the Madonna della Guardia chapel and reach the “Alpone”, an ancient pasture with stone farmsteads and the Madonna della Guardia hut (summer opening only). Follow the signs to “Alpi del Sasso”, ignore the “Sarona – Curiglia” directions. The trail is now a steep and particularly demanding mule track. At the end of the downhill track you will find yourself above the village of Curiglia. You can make a quick detour to visit the village and then continue towards our destination without double backing: just follow the signs to “Viasco – Monteviasco”, from the Via Matteotti in the village centre.
If instead you want to keep to the official route, do not walk down to the village but head right on the flat towards “Viasco – Monteviasco”. By the chapel continue to the right on a paved, slightly uphill stretch of road till you are in the vicinity of Viasco. Leave the village behind and, as you enter the woods, you will see the first information panel of the educational beech trail from Viasco to Monteviasco. On the way you will meet two more educational areas, on charcoal kilns and on local plant life. The trail will then cross to the opposite side of the valley, after wading several creeks. Here the trail starts climbing steeply to the abandoned Alpe Cortetti pasture, where information on rock engravings can be found and where you can rest in one of the farmsteads. Further on along the trail you will find one more information panel on the “cantinotti”. From there the trail continues on false flat across two more creeks on a scenic ridge over the Val Veddasca and on Lake Maggiore. You will find one last panel with information on the region’s geology. Walk slightly downhill to Monteviasco, a village that was abandoned in the 1950’s but has now known some repopulation. Currently 12 people live there all year round.
Trail description: Cinzia Summermatter
Landscape, NATURA2000, Protected areas
The Val Veddasca is in the northernmost area of Varese province. It is a wild and secluded valley with many vestiges of a rural Alpne society. Human presence in the valley is very old, as was shown by archeological finds and prehistoric graffiti (Source: ilvaresotto.it). Furthermore the entire Val Veddasca is a Natura 2000 site (SIC IT2010016, Habitat map, Site description).
Wildlife, Emerald species
Insects and crustaceans: Cerambyx cerdo, Lucanus cervus, Euphidrias aurinia, Euplagia quadripunctaria, Astropotamobius pallipes
Fishes: Barbus plebejus, Cottus gobio, Leuciscus souffia, Rutilus pigus
Birds: Pernis apivorus, Milvus migrans, Circaetus gallicus, Circus cyaneus, Aquila chrysaetos,
Falco peregrinus, Tetrao tetrix, Alectoris graeca, Caprimulgus europaeus, Dryocopus martius, Anthus campestris, Lanius collurio, Emberiza hortulana, Bonasia bonasia
Bats: Myotis emarginatus
Other species of interest
Mammals: fox, badger, chamois, red deer, wild boar
Other information on the region’s wildlife
- Roland Hochstrasser, Geography of the Malcantone, nature and landscape study of the region
Protected aereas, Emerald and Natura 2000 sites
- Val Veddasca Natura 2000 site
- Priority conservation area of the WWF European Alpine Programme
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 ethnography
- Madonna della Guardia church in the Alpone pasture
- Tronchedo Sanctuary in Curiglia
- Serta Sanctuary in Monteviasco
- Monteviasco houses
A 16th century legend tells how the village was founded. At that time Lombardy was a possession of the Spanish crown. Four deserters were on the run and sought refuge in the Valle del Monte Polà, where they started building stone houses. Delea, Morandi, Ranzoni and Casina (those were the soldiers’ names) were not ready to remain celibate while on the run. They thus decided to kidnap a maiden for each one of them. The kidnapping of their daughters provoked the angry reaction of the people of Curiglia who moved against the soldiers, ready to fight for their daughters’ sake: But a surprise was waiting for them as they found the kidnappers’ houses guarded by the very girls they had come to save. The peace was soon restored and everything ended with a typical village party.
Next stage: Emerald Trail Ticino-Varese Province: Stage 14
Stage before: Emerald Trail Ticino-Varese Province: Stage 12