“For me, trekking means to comune with nature. This is why I walk slowly; I hardly ever rush. Nature, for me, is not a gym. I go to see, to feel, with all of my senses. And so my spirit enters the trees, the meadows, the flowers. The high mountains are, for me, a sentiment.” Reinhold Messner
Indeed, hiking in the mountains, even on the easiest paths, is an emotional experience that promotes wellness. Val Pellice (Turin province) is a valley in the Cottian Alps between France and Italy. The Monviso massif is the highest peak and the valley joins Bricherasio and Villanova along the course of the Pellice river. Among the valleys of the province, Val Pellice is the furthest south and its history was characterized by the Waldensian movement.
Hiking in Val Pellice
Our hiking tour begins in Villanova, a small village situated at an altitude of 1,223 meters. This is where we’ll leave our car and start along the trail that ends at Conca del Prà. At the end of the hike, there is a mountain refuge called Rifugio Jervis as well as two other small farmhouses. The trail comes to a crossroads at the very beginning: on the right, the well-trodden path; while on the left the most challenging trail that will take you through the woods along the Pellice stream. They are both well-marked by wooden signs and by red and white trail markers.
During summertime, the recommended path is the one on the left. The tumultuous torrent will accompany you throughout your journey through lush greenery. There are numerous small caves that have formed between the rocks and practically exude cool air. You can stop to cool off and rest. If you’re not cold-natured and are adventurous, you can take a dip in the natural pools of crystal clear water known as tumpi or toumpi. Created by boulders brought by the river, or near the Pis Waterfall, these refreshing pools will be just what you need on a warm, summer day.
After approximately two hours of walking the 500 m grade, you will arrive at the long-awaited Conca del Prà, where the view is truly spectacular. The Jervis mountain refuge is impressive and overlooks the valley.
Polenta and meat are on the menu, accommodation services and sporting activities such as climbing are offered to anyone who wants to stay at least one night.
You can also simply have a picnic or camp in the valley and relax after the demanding hike. For those who are more adventurous or more athletic, Conca del Prà can be the starting point for even more challenging hikes (such as Colle della Croce on the French-Italian border).