choosing where to spend my summer break I often look to France’s peaceful
lakes, try to find a good mountain hike or even a spot on a wild beach
somewhere. It wasn’t until recently that I decided to look a little further
afield to Italy, and its stunning Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso.Witness stunning natural lakes in the Gran Paradiso park.
© Flickr user Tor des Geants
in northern Italy and part of Europe’s magnificent Graian Alps, this national
park is Italy’s oldest, founded in 1922 when King Victor Emmanuel III donated
21 kilometres of his land to protect the area’s wildlife.
well as great hiking routes, cycling paths and wildlife-spotting opportunities,
prepare to see lots of high mountains – the Gran Paradiso peak is 4,601 metres
high! In summer, the park comes alive, so check out my guide to the perfect
summer in the Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso.
the summer months, the previously endangered alpine ibex come down from their
mountain hideouts to the warmth of the valleys below. A type of wild goat, the
ibex are beautiful creatures with vast horns, which can be seen foraging for
mosses, grasses and flowers to eat. The beautiful ibex, which is native to the park.
© Flickr user Fulvio Spada
to the ibex, chamois are timid mammals that look somewhat like antelopes. You
can find them grazing in the valleys of the national park at dawn and dusk.
to the skies when you’re exploring the park and see if you can find some of the
rare birds of prey that live there, such as golden eagles and the Eurasian
eagle-owl. When trekking through the park’s thick woods, listen out for
nutcrackers and woodpeckers.
you need a starting point to your exploration of the park, I’d suggest Cogne.
With a population of just 1,500, Cogne is a historical trading town and today it’s
a popular spot with visitors. It’s simply beautiful, with its colourful
buildings dotted throughout the valley and the Roman bridge which stands as a
reminder of its turbulent history. The valley, with Cogne beneath.
© Flickr user chiesADlbeinasco
here is wonderful, with the snow-capped hillsides giving way to green meadows
and wildflowers. If you visit between June and August, you can use the camping
facilities in town, which are great fun if you’re travelling with kids.
Personally, I love using Cogne as a base from which I can explore the nearby
mountains, going rock climbing and horseback riding.
are countless hiking opportunities in the park, whether you’re exploring the
Nivolet Pass on foot via the commune of Valsavarenche, or you’re trekking
through the park’s thick woods and forests. Hiking or walking in the park is an
unmatched experience. It’s perfectly unspoilt and you really get a sense of
being in the wild.
you want a challenging hike, check out the Alta Via 2 path. This route will
take you from Lillaz to Rhemes-Notre-Dame, which is about 35 miles. A
high-altitude walk at times, you’ll need to bring the correct gear for this
at just under 7 miles long, the trail from Pont to Col del Nivolet rewards your
efforts with sweeping views of the park, and while challengingly steep in
parts, it’s worth the effort.
is a great time to take your furry friend on holiday with you, especially as
dog walking is allowed in the park – although there are a few rules.
Between 15th July and 31st August, you can enjoy
fantastic routes with your dog, stopping by some of the park’s prettiest towns
and villages along the way.
of my favourite routes starts at the commune of Valnontey, southwest of Cogne. A
winding walk, you’ll eventually end up at the Vittorio Sella Refuge to the
west, having seen some of the prettiest parts of the park. It’s important to
remember that in most places, you can’t let your dog off the lead, as you risk
disturbing the local wildlife.
Inspired to explore Italy’s Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso?
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