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Piedmont's Magical Valley

Valle Maira - an Occitan paradise
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We are keen for as many customers as possible to review their holiday. To make it easier to do so, since 2 October 2015 we have included a specific review section on our post-holiday questionnaire, and this is what we now publish here, unedited. Read our full review policy >

Mrs L Carter  Langport September 2018

Challenging walks in a wonderful and previously unknown location to us and everybody we have spoken to. The accommodation and hospitality was both homely and excellent, in locations that must be very difficult to access in winter.

The food was good to excellent and the latter two hotels served breakfast that was good if not better than any we have had in Italy.

Anon   September 2018

The quality of the scenery and the walks is second to none. I have walked in many of the mountains of Europe and this area is as good as it gets.

Mrs J Grech  Royston September 2018

This was one of our most enjoyable Inntravel holidays, made by the unspoiled nature of the Valle Maira (and the lack of ski lifts) together with the engaging hoteliers and some wonderful food. The walking was stretching, but rewarding and we particularly liked the mixture of high, wild mountain terrain constrasting with the old villages connected by historic tracks.

Mr H Aldous  London September 2018

This was another delightful, if challenging, set of days.  So good that I may do it again!  All the hosts were charming and accomodation more than adequate (the last hotel was most enjoyable).   The scenery is spectacular as well as beautiful.  Dramatic photo opportunities.   Add a bit more time to the suggested timing if you are being picked up, so that you do not have to rush - particularly downhill; you are climbing and descending for quite extensive stretches.   Very few other hikers. Usual reliable Inntravel walking notes.  Often quite a few springs to top up with delicious, cold, mountain water. 

Mrs S Massey-Clark  Canada September 2018

On a walking holiday if there is very little rain that is a definite highlight, as it was for us. The Sentiero Frassati walk was spectacular and many times that day we were conscious of how fortunate we were that life had brought us to that moment. As well, the people we met on the trails and those we had dinner with every night made a wonderful trip a truly unforgettable one.

Erica Wilde   September 2018

The holiday in Piedmont's Hills and Valleys was a delight. We were rather glad that we came here in early September as the hazelnut harvest was in full swing which was fascinating. It was also the very start of collecting the grapes in the area and our included wine tasting was made even more interesting with the addition of tractors bringing in the harvest direct from vineyard to winery. The walking was exactly as predicted with possibly a few more ascents than we imagined from a 1-2 Graded walk. A combination of these two walks was a wonderful contrast to each other and the first was a good preparation week for the more challenging week to follow.

Piedmont's Magical Valley was exactly as predicted. This was a grade 3 walk which we were told was one of Inntravel's most challenging walks. These walks were outstanding, the scenery, accommodation and food as well as the locals welcome made it one of our favourite walking weeks of all time. The unspoilt region was truly awesome, a word so frequently used but on this occasion no other word will accurately describe the nature of the place. The only criticism was that the timings of the walks were difficult as they were fast and there was a challenge to meet the Sherpabus as walkers usually do like to stop and take photographs along the way too. 

INNTRAVEL NOTE: These customer combined our walking holidays Piedmont’s Hills & Vineyards and Piedmont's Magical Valley

Mr R Coton  Dundee August 2018

What sets this apart from most Inntravel walking holidays is the sheer remoteness of Valle Maira. You do feel you're entering another world - plunging valleys surrounded by sheer cliffs and massive rock pinacles ....and not much by way of phone reception! The villages - some partially reconstructed, some almost deserted - are truly unspoilt, yet a vibrant local community is scattered through the valley (you may meet the enthusiastic Deputy Mayor of the valley who is one of the Sherpabus drivers).

The walking is definitely at Grade 3. The creative choice of options for each centre makes the holiday just about accessible to people like us who normally prefer Inntravel's walking holidays at Grade 2 (or Grade 2-3 at most) .... but the prolonged steep climbs + significant altitude are not for the faint-hearted! What you'll see, though, is truly memorable and pretty unique. The Gardetta Plateau, with the immense dorsal fin of Rocca La Meja towering above it, is etched in our memories. Likewise, tiny Lago Camoscere, on its balcony on top of the world surrounded by sweeping panoramas. The walk over the shoulder of the mountain from Allemandi to Acceglio is beautifully varied (we took the lower option in the second half of the route). And make sure you don't miss out on the final day's ramble around the villages near Finello; it's a lovely contrast with the other routes, and the hamlets you visit are time-capsules from 150 years ago.

We greatly enjoyed the varied accommodation types; Al Chersogno is relatively simple, but still comfortable with good food and a stunning location. The bedrooms of La Scuola di Chiappera are spread through the village as well as in the schoolhouse, and this makes it very interesting (and the food is excellent). Lou Pitavin is more of a conventional hotel, but still with lots of character (& beautiful gardens where you can sit and relax). Most people you'll meet speak only a few words of English, but they nearly all speak French; we really liked finding out about valley life from them.  

If you enjoy high altitude mountain hiking + a bit of a challenge and are looking for something just a bit different from previous holidays, Piedmont's Magical Valley is really worth considering.

Ms H Jones  Chelmsford August 2018

This was, I think, our tenth holiday with Inntravel (the sixth walking one) and we thought it was the best so far. The hotels and food provided were all excellent and the service of the hoteliers and Sherpabus so friendly and efficient.  We loved the area and thoroughly enjoyed the suggested walks. My personal favourite was the Senterio Frassati walk from Chiappera closely followed by the transfer day walk from Pratorotondo to Preit where we saw marmots galore.

We added on a couple of nights at Camogli on the Portofino Peninsula which was relatively easy to get to on the trains from Cuneo. This was completely different in style to the Valle Maira (bigger hotel, smaller room) but very lovely. There was also an interesting walk over the peninsula to walk off the very generous breakfast provided.


INNTRAVEL NOTE: These customers enjoyed our Piedmont's Magical Valley walking holiday before staying in the Hotel Cenobio dei Dogi, in Camogli (a popular add on for our Ligurian Coast holiday).

Clare & Elizabeth  London August 2018
Hats off to Inntravel. You have created a jewel of a Grade 3 walking holiday. This was our 10th holiday with you and was the very best we have experienced. Can you find more places like Valle Maira please? The valley emptied in the 60s and the hamlets decayed and were left to rack and ruin. As a result, the whole valley missed the tourist boom and was rediscovered in the 1980s. It has been lovingly brought back to life. Not a lift in sight and this is the high Alps! The personalised taxi service with delightful drivers from “sherpabus” whizzed us from the end of a long traverse to stunning family run agriturismos. Food and wine were spectacular as were as the challenging walks. Can you discover more holidays like this please!
Mr SA Benyunes  London July 2018

The hospitality at all three hotels was second to none and could not be faulted. All had heaps of character and were wonderfully located. The food at La Scuola di Chiappera in particular was outstanding. Doing six very challenging walks on consecutive days stretched my walking ability to its limits, but these were splendid walks in wonderful scenery that felt properly wild.

Mrs P Turley  Brighton July 2018
This is an outstanding holiday. It was our 16th with Inntravel and certainly amongst the best. It is in an interesting area with amazing flowers, wildlife, scenery and village architecture. All the places we stayed were very different, but all excellent, with very hospitable owners. We had very good vegetarian meals and picnics. On some of the walks we didn’t see any other walkers, even in July. The route notes were good and the Sherpabus was very reliable. We would consider returning to do more walking.
Dr P Hare  Solihull June 2018

The flowers in the alpine meadows were the most amazing that we've ever seen - so many varieties and so abundant.

Lots of marmots and "mamotinas"

Really great scenery - from high alpine terrain to forests and meadows.

Dr GJ Bowen  Leominster June 2018

Despite the weather conditions we were bowled over by the location and the wonderful display of spring flowers. We saw masses of pulsitilla, gentians, globe flowers, pansies, asphodel, snowbells, lilies, primula, tuips, crocuses, orchids - military, elder flowered, burnt tip, early purple, frog, round headed, fragrant, fly and marsh - to name but a few! It was a true walking area - unspoilt and uncrowded and friendly. It was a pleasure to discover such a gem. Thank you again Inntravel!

Mr H Wark  Perth June 2018

Perhaps this was too early in the season to avoid remaining snow. Suggest you should start this later in June.

Inntravel response

We select the season dates for our holidays very carefully, taking into account the likelihood of late-lying snow and erring on the side of caution. Unfortunately there was exceptional snowfall over the winter this year, and little springtime sun to melt it.

Paddy & Nic   May 2018

We loved our Piedmont walk. It was at times more intrepid than we had expected due to early season bad weather and lots of snow still lying which prevented us from doing a couple of routes. It was all part of the adventure though and it was still great walking on well-thought out routes and the views, comfort, friendliness and amazing food in all the places we stayed added so much. At least one stick is recommended as it’s very steep in places. We would recommend adding a day in Turin if you can. It’s beautiful. This walk was pretty challenging as expected but the rewards were great. 

Dr J Porter  Cockermouth September 2017

This was an excellent holiday - our fourth with Inntravel and certainly the one with the most spectacular scenery. The autumn colours were really stunning, and the walks varied and very enjoyable - a good mix of stunning mountain scenery and interesting villages. We saw lots of wildlife too (and cute baby goats!). The three bases were all very good, with comfortable, well-equipped cosy rooms. All of the hoteliers were really friendly and helpful and all managed to provide good veggie food. The dinners produced by Valerie at Lou Pitavin in Finello were simply wonderful! An area we must return to!

Mrs S Collier  Salisbury September 2017

One of Inntravel's best tough walking trips. The Valle de Maira is a real find, with fantastic, varied and stimulating walks, history, local culture, food and wine.

Ms A McGregor  Glasgow August 2017

This was a fantastic holiday. The scenery, walking and food were outstanding but above all the charming friendly hosts at the accommodation made this one of the best hiking holidays we have been on.

Andrew from Snodland, Kent   August 2017

Everything about this holiday was excellent. We were able to walk at high levels with expansive views of many alpine peaks, virtually on our own and with no ski equipment scarring the landscape. We took advantage of the cloudless skies to do the short detours suggested in the walk notes to reach the summits of both Mt Chersogno and Mt Soubeyran; the cautions in the walk notes about these peaks were accurate so they will not suit everyone but, as the notes indicate, the views from the summits are incredible and well worth the extra effort. There was imaginative use of transfers by the reliable Sherpabus company to enable good walks on the two days where we changed hotels and transfers by hotel staff on other days. Several options on offer enabled us to take a more relaxed walk the day before we ascended one of the peaks. The valley has extremely steep sides so lots of narrow twisting roads ... which possibly explains why no coach party was sighted all week despite it being high season. The walks are well signposted, the map and notes are both good and the terrain under foot is better than on many walks, even at high altitudes. The 3 hotels are all very different but the food at each was really good quality and the usual charming Italian hospitality was evident at them all. An observation to note is that all 3 hotels appear to get fully booked quite a long way in advance in high season (speaking with a few other travellers who shared where they were staying) and so we would suggest booking early for this particular walk. This is our 12th Inntravel holiday and it is in our top 2, if not top. Indeed, this walk is so good that we may do it again in a few years time. 

Anon   August 2017

This was a great holiday, and one that we were particularly pleased to have Inntravel organise for us! Good variety of walks in wonderful scenery, for which the high quality map and walking notes provided were extremely useful. Very friendly accommodation with some outstanding cooking. We had 7 days of glorious sunshine. Although meadows were past their peak in August, there were still plenty of flowers at high altitude, and butterflies everywhere. Don't worry if (like us) your Italian is almost non-existent - there were English-speaking staff at all the hotels.

Amanda  London July 2017
We thought this was a fabulous holiday. We have been on many Inntravel walking holidays including most of the Grade 3 walks but we thought this one probably comes out tops. The walking was mostly spectacular - high and challenging in the beautiful Occitaine Alps. Hefty ascents and descents but worth it for the breath-taking views and glacial lakes, glacial remains, marmots and birds of prey. And the silence - a rarity these days. The scenery is wild and dramatic, more so than the more Northern Alps we have walked in. The region is mostly undeveloped consisting of small hamlets of houses with perhaps a church but nothing else. Few shops or hotels in the Valley Maira and walking is the only main activity detectable. The larger villages or small towns are at the valley bottom but even these offer little for the tourist passing through. This holiday is more like refuge walking than other Inntravel holidays and the accommodation is in a sort of upgraded refuge form. At Allemandi the agriturismo is basic but comfortable and the people who run it are charming and can't do enough for you. The food is authentic simple Italian and you choose your wine of a shelf. It was a fun place to stay and one night an impromptu folk music evening took place with the family playing local folk music and Papa singing in Occitan. La Scuola at Chiappera calls itself a refuge but it is a very posh one. We stayed in a lovely characterful and well renovated room in the village and ate at La Scuola a few minutes away. The food was good and generous and the dining room is lovely and modern and looks more like a trendy restaurant from Hoxton. Again the people who ran this place were charming and helpful and had even employed a young woman to speak English to us (no other English people there and few speak it). It was a lovely memorable place to stay. The final accommodation at Finello was a cross-between a refuge and a hotel with multi-bed rooms and large tables for walking groups plus more conventional hotel rooms. We had a nice characterful room and ate on our own table. The food was good and sometimes very good. Good wine and a lovely garden to loll about in after a walk. The Sherpabus system was very good and reliable. Overall a somewhat different but thoroughly enjoyable holiday and we would definitely go back to the region for more walking.
Tips As this is a remote region we found we needed to use a compass and the map - but it is very good as it shows the major walking trails. It may be 30 degrees in the valley in the day but when we were there (late July) it was cool in the mornings and evenings - eating or drinking outside took a thick fleece and strong constitution. We wore fleeces and a hat on more than one occasion when up high in the mountains. But the weather was perfect for walking. I just wished I had taken jeans for the evenings rather than linen trousers. We could have done with a pack of cards or films on the iplayer as there is not much to do when at your accommodation and perhaps after dinner (at La Scuola it is at 7 for everyone).
Ms B Londergan  USA July 2017

Overall, we were extremely, excessively delighted with the Piedmont hike. 

We had a tiny bit of a problem with the room selections at first, but it was nicely resolved. I should have made certain that we requested a room with windows, light and as much of a view as possible.... we had given that information last year, but I probably should have re-made that request.

The Ötztal Alps were not as exciting, remote or uniformly challenging -- and that was slightly disappointing after the glorious time we had in Piedmont. Four light days and 2 really, really long ones -- but almost always on a gravel track and in sight of towns, roads, automobiles, etc. but I think perhaps that is just the way that part of the country is ... and if you are staying in hotels every night, it's hard to get further out into the backcountry... who knows?

Anyhow... Piedmont was SO special. Just amazing! 

INNTRAVEL NOTE: These customers combined out Piedmont's Magical Valley holiday with The High Alpine Way

Mrs S Pugh  Ipswich July 2017

Walking in the Piedmont Alps was definitely a five star holiday! We normally arrange our own walking holidays and this was our first 'self guided' one with Inntravel. It introduced us to an area which we would never have discovered on our own. The choice of routes was excellent and took us through a wonderful variety of paths and scenery from lush meadows to craggy mountains. Any doubts that we had about whether the walks would be sufficiently challenging were unfounded! The flowers and butterflies in early July were beautiful and all three hotels served us excellent food and made us feel very welcome.

Dr M H Michie  Middlesbrough July 2017

How come this magnificent centre for mountain walking (and great eating and drinking) is so unknown? Don't tell too many people....

Anon   June 2017

This was an excellent holiday, well put together in a beautiful and relatively undeveloped alpine valley. Interesting and challenging walks in spectacular mountain scenery with lots of interesting flora and fauna. Paths were well-marked and notes easy to follow. Accommodation was in small and very hospitable guest houses with top quality non-tourist meals. Little English spoken but we got by with limited French and Italian. Daily picnics lacking imagination - ham and/or cheese sarnies every day.

Bleausard   June 2017

A really spectacular holiday - fantastic scenery, great places to stay and friendly people. Some of the walks do require a very good level of fitness, as you might expect from a grade 3 walk in the mountains, but there are options for some that can "ease the strain". We were very lucky with the weather, so didn't need our waterproofs much, but it is worth stressing that conditions can change very quickly here - we did our first walk in good weather and were back at Allemandi before the storm hit, as advised by the team at the Agriturismo (who tend to be more accurate than many of the forecasts!). The food was excellent everywhere, especially at Lou Pitavin where there is an excellent choice - well done if you can manage all 5 courses, including the pasta! The transfers by Sherpabus were very reliable, and if you need to amend times of pick up points they are extremely flexible; if their schedule can accommodate your requests, they will deliver! All in all a really worthwhile trip, and a great set of memories.

Mr E Thompson  Otley June 2017

A wonderful holiday in a lovely, relatively quiet part of the world. The flowers and butterflies were beautiful and the scenery was superb.  Even the thunderstorms were amazing to watch!

Anon   June 2017

The grand mountain backdrops, abundance of flowers, birdlife and sightings of marmots, chamois and stambeggi and challenging walks all made for a memorable and refreshing holiday. We rate the walk among our top 4 out of 13 so far! And Turin really exceeded our expectations, helped by the long porticoed streets in the centre which provided welcome shade.


INNTRAVEL NOTE: These customers combined Piedmont's Magical Valley with our Turin city add-on

Anon   May 2017

The three guest houses were nicely contrasting and all the hosts were exceptionally welcoming.  It is worth mentioning that very little English is spoken in Valle Maira and none of the hosts spoke English easily with the exception of Marco at Lou Pitavin. However most people speak good French as it's so near the French border, and we managed very well with our rusty O level French at Al Chersogno and La Scuola. So if you are not an Italian speaker, French is the language to brush up on before you go!

The food was absolutely delicious. Don't miss Pasqualina's panna cotta with home-produced honey at Al Chersogno!

All the walks were spectacular - we have hiked in the Alps before but this was the best yet for scenery, flora and fauna. The history and culture of the Valle are also of great interest.



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