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Like an open hand

Valle Gesso

Valasco plain, in the upper Valle Gesso (PNAM archive).

Seen from the sky, the Valle Gesso looks like an open hand: the branches of the river Gesso fan out just upstream of Valdieri and disappear into the crystalline heart of Maritime Alps, the core of the protected area.

Leaving the valley bottom behind, the scenery gets wilder and rich in contrasts, steep rock faces, open meadows, lakes set into the rocks and little obstinate glaciers, the southernmost in the Alps.

There have been people living here since prehistoric times as we can see from the protohistoric burial ground in Valdieri. The mountains of the Valle Gesso were once the hunting grounds reserved for the Kings of the House of Savoy: today they are a paradise, free for everybody where chamois and ibex can live undisturbed.

This is a demanding environment, plants, animals and even people have had to adapt to it. Along with the endemic botanic species and typically Alpine animals, the cultural heritage of the valley also stands out, on show at the Rye Ecomuseum. Examples of this heritage are the Rye Bear which comes out in Valdieri at carnival time and the summer festivals of rye and lavender.

The Gesso valley has no roads through to France: it is not a valley where you end up by chance, it is a world to discover intentionally. In all seasons on foot, pedalling or on skis, on the footpaths that lead to the mountain refuges and to the peaks of the Alpi Marittime Park.


A village "between the waters"

An Alpine village and modern resort: the two sides of the same village. Lying in the sun in a glacial cirque between the waters of three streams, Entracque offers a wealth of experiences.


The centre of Roaschia - narrow streets, open courtyards - is at the bottom of a lateral valley closed in by high peaks: wonderful for cool summers, frighteningly cold in winter.


A village and its hamlets

Spread out in the sun like a colourful tapestry, the medieval village of Valdieri stretches beneath the imposing limestone cliff of Rocca San Giovanni-Saben.

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Ente di gestione Aree protette delle Alpi Marittime