Hike Epic Alpine Trails of the Val d'Aosta Beneath Italy's Highest Peaks with Gianluca Canalicchio and James Fuss

Overview

If you love the mountains, you’ll love our challenging new hiking journey on what our revered Trip Leader Gianluca Canalicchio calls “The Roof of Europe.” This “hiker’s hike” brings us across the craggy ridges and cols of Italy’s dramatic Val d’Aosta and through enchanting villages of the intriguing Walser culture. Our hikes take us right below unforgettable panoramas of the giants of the Alps—the iconic Matterhorn, Monte Rosa, Mont Blanc, and the glaciated peaks of Gran Paradiso National Park. We'll follow sections of the famed Alta Via, the rugged long-distance trail circling the heights of the Val d’Aosta, and parts of the famous Tor des Geants (Tour of the Giants). Cable cars and gondolas whisk us up onto the flanks of the highest mountains in Europe for our stunning hikes, beginning with the dramatic Matterhorn and followed in turn by Monte Rosa, the “Queen of the Alps,” the peaks and valleys of Gran Paradiso National Park, and—the jewel in the crown—mighty Mont Blanc (15,771’), the highest of them all. At night, we are welcomed into cozy hotels in small villages. And with Trip Leader Gianluca, a self-confessed “foodie” and expert in all things epicurean, we’ll enjoy the cuisine of this beguiling corner of Italy, famous for its culinary traditions—spicy Bosses ham, lard d’Arnad (bacon conserved with local herbs), Fontina cheese, honey from the town of Châtillon, and rennet apples, used in many regional dishes. We’ll be sure to top it all off with a glass of Genepi, the local herbal liqueur traditionally sipped from a wooden goblet. This is adventure in style! Join us on this wonderfully fun, dramatic, and ultimately rewarding journey to the heights of Europe!

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-3
Aosta, Val d'Aosta / Breuil-Cervinia

Based in the ancient Savoy town of Aosta and the alpine resort of Breuil-Cervinia, we head to the surrounding mountain heights by cable car for hikes with spectacular views of the Mont Blanc massif, Grand Combin, Monte Rosa, and the Matterhorn.

Days 4-5
Cervinia / Champoluc / Breithorn

One of our hikes brings us into the glacially-carved Val d’Ayas, a serene paradise full of rivers and streams, with small villages surrounded by forests of spruce, pine, and larch, and framed by the superb backdrop of the Breithorn, a glaciated giant that straddles the border between Italy and Switzerland. Another hike leads along the famed Alta Via trail with awe-inspiring views of the Matterhorn, Monte Rosa, and countless other peaks, and through the hamlet of Cunéaz with its traditional Walser architecture.

Days 6-7
Gressoney-La-Trinité / Monte Rosa

Catching a gondola to Ostafa (8,000’), we follow another trail along the Alta Via, soaking up views of Monte Rosa and visiting the old alpine villages of Alpenzù Piccolo and Alpenzù Grande, where the Walser architecture is wonderfully preserved. Our next hike is challenging, but arguably one of the most spectacular of our journey, and brings us on a rocky trail to the Rifugio Quintino Sella (11,600'), set on the flanks of Monte Rosa (15,203’), the “Queen of the Alps.” The views from here are utterly breathtaking!

Days 8-9
Gran Paradiso National Park

Heading west, we hike into Gran Paradiso National Park, a magnificent landscape of soaring snow-covered peaks, glacial cirques, alpine lakes, remote valleys with picturesque traditional villages, and a wealth of mountain fauna and flora, including ibex and chamois. Our hike brings us through the town of Lillaz, famous for its beautiful waterfalls, and follows the ancient royal hunting roads built by King Vittorio Emanuele II (Gran Paradiso was once his private hunting grounds). Another hike brings us right from our hotel to Valnontey, then traverses a rocky trail and switchbacks to Alpe Money, set in a meadow below a superb amphitheater of mountains with glaciers tumbling below.

Days 10-12
Courmayeur / Mont Blanc

From the town of Courmayeur, beautifully set beneath the Mont Blanc massif, we ascend by cable car and hike to the Elisabetta Hut (7,201’). Our last hike is in the Val Ferret, a lovely realm of alpine meadows and fast-flowing streams surrounded by the massive granite peaks of Mont Dolent (12,543'), the Dent du Geant (13,166’), and the Grandes Jorasses (13,806’). After lunch, we catch the cable car to savor spectacular views of the “Roof of Europe” at the Aiguille du Midi (12,678') in the heart of the Mont Blanc massif, descending to Chamonix, France, and returning to Courmayeur with a drive through the Mont Blanc tunnel. Depart on Day 12.

Highlights

Highlights

Enjoy exhilarating hikes beneath the “giants” of the Alps—the Matterhorn, Monte Rosa, and Mont Blanc—and in the valleys of Gran Paradiso National Park
A true “hiker’s hike” on the Val d’Aosta’s Alta Via and along the “Tor des Geants”
Sample the distinctive cuisine of Italy’s Val d’Aosta
Discover tiny villages with distinctive architecture and ancient traditions

Details

Length: 12 days
Cost From: $6195  
Arrive: Torino, Italy
Depart: Torino, Italy
Lodging: 11 nights hotels
Meals: All meals included except 2 dinners
Activity: Hiking / Trekking
Trip Level:

11 hiking days on moderate to steep trails, 4-6 hours a day, altitudes between 8,000-11,600 feet, van support (for luggage or if you wish to skip a day’s hike). This is a strenuous hiking trip, read “What the Trip is Like” for more details.

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