Eight thousand years of Alpi Marittime

The Maritime Alps were already popular in prehistory: there is proof of this in the famous rock engravings of the Vallée des Merveilles, the Aisone caves in Valle Stura withtraces of a Neolithic settlement, the proto-historic burial ground in Valdieri, with its Bronze Age tombs. Since the end of the last ice age, about eight thousand years ago, these mountains were a crossing point between the coast and the plains for numerous shepherds, merchants, soldiers, pilgrims ...
Each has left traces behind, pastures and ancient trade routes between the plains and the coast, fortifications and sanctuaries sheltered between the mountain tops, paved roads in the mountains and hunting lodges built to accommodate no less than the kings of Italy ...

In fact, in the mid-nineteenth century, the kings and queens of the house of Savoy arrived in Valle Gesso. Smitten by the wild beauty of the area and the abundance of game, they decide to stay, so one of the poorest areas of the Western Alps become a hunting reserve and one of the favourite residences of the "hunter King" until the end of the Second World War.

The last event that marked the history and the landscape of the future Natural Park of the Maritime Alps was the construction of artificial reservoirs for the production of hydroelectric energy. The building sites changed the face of the Gesso Valley, but also offered job opportunities to the youth of the valley, stemming in part the massive depopulation of the '60s and' 70s.

Then came the Park and alpine tourism as we know it today, and the rest is history ...


The Maritime Alps have been frequented since the end of the last ice age, around 8,000 years ago.

Kings and Queens in Valle Gesso

Love at first sight. The thunderbolt between the House of Savoy and the Valle Gesso struck on 29 August 1855.

Alpine exploration

The Maritime Alps were discovered and climbed later than other parts of the Alps.

Population trend

Once densely populated, the Park's valleys have witnessed decades of depopulation.


Agriculture and breeding have lost ground to crafts, commerce and services.

Occitan language and music

It isn't Italian, French or Piedmontese, it's Occitan, an ancient transboundary cultural heritage.

Traditional architecture

Building with what there is, making the most of what the territory has to offer.

The Rye Bear Carnival

At Carnival, the Rye Bear has started running through the streets of Valdieri again...