Switzerland and Italy meet in a spectacular way in the Alps, and we’ve picked the best hikes on both sides of the alpine divide for our lively adventure. In Switzerland’s Valais, known for its snowy peaks, medieval villages, and herds of prized Herens cows, cable cars whisk us to high ridges for panoramic hikes. We make our way into Italy by way of the historic St. Bernard Pass, where we’ll enjoy a walk with the famous rescue dogs, then hike right down into Italy’s Val d’Aosta amid the gorgeous mountain-and-glacier scenery of Gran Paradiso National Park. Great food and wines abound on both sides of the pass, and our overnights are in delightful alpine settings, including the medieval Swiss hamlet of Commeire and the lovely Italian village of Etroubles, one of the piu belli borghi d’Italia.
One of the best small group adventures I have ever been on.
— Verna K., Naples, FL
Days 1-4, Aug 16-19, 2017
Martigny, Switzerland / Val de Bagnes / Commeire
We hike among the picturesque villages of the Val des Bagnes and in the valley’s upper region, one of Switzerland’s great nature reserves. One hike brings us to the tiny hamlet of Commeire, where our hotel is in beautifully restored ancient farm buildings. The Val des Bagnes is prime cheese-making territory, and we’ll sample the rustic local tomme, raclette, and goat cheeses.
Days 5-7, Aug 20-22, 2017
Champex / Grand St. Bernard Pass / Val d’Aosta, Italy
From lakeside Champex, our hike to the Cabane d’Orny, just below the Orny Glacier, offers breathtaking Mont Blanc views. Atop the Grand St. Bernard Pass (8,100'), the oldest and most famous of the great alpine crossings (traversed by Caesar and Napoleon), we walk with the legendary St. Bernard dogs, visit the 11th century pilgrim hospice, then follow a pilgrim trail that leads us down into Italy and the Val d’Aosta, a deep valley tucked away in Italy’s northwestern alpine region. Bordered by Europe’s highest peaks, the Val d’Aosta is renowned for its castles and Roman monuments. We’ll visit the pretty town of Aosta to see its Roman theater and intact original Roman town gate.
Days 8-10, Aug 23-25, 2017
Val d’Aosta / Gran Paradiso National Park
We head out across the high trails of Gran Paradiso National Park, savoring the backdrop of glaciers and craggy peaks. For one hike, a cable car carries us up to Lago di Chamole, where our trail has sweeping panoramas of the great peaks of the Alps—Mont Blanc, Grand Combin, Monte Rosa, and the Matterhorn—all in one view! Our hotel in charming Gressoney-La-Trinité, an ancient center of Walser culture, is at the foot of magnificent Monte Rosa. Depart on Day 10.