The Glorious Return of the Vaudois
A hike on the western Alps, in Piedmont - Code 2021CA012_01
“There are many good reasons to get to the mountains and hike on a trail. For the small army of about a thousand men, followers of the Christian heresy Valdus of Lion had founded 500 years ahead, it was hope and longing for freedom that moved them. Hope - it was the 17th of august 1689, night of their departure - to go back to the alpine valleys in Piedmont they had been forced to leave in 1689. And, most of all, freedom to follow their own faith, in the land of their fathers, where their farms and pastures were.”
Riccardo Carnovalini and Roberta Ferraris, Il Glorioso Rimpatrio, Terre di mezzo Editore, 2007 (The Glorious Return of the Vaudois)
Walking step by step on the same trails the Vaudois had walked during their 1689 Glorious Return, is going to be a fully immersive experience of natural beauty. The regional park of the “Gran Bosco”, at the very beginning, a stunning larch forest; their last stronghold, the village and steep cliffs of La Balziglia; the alpine scenarios and authentic wilderness of the Giulian valley; these are just some examples of the various significant places and landmarks we will walk through, across four alpine valleys in the Turin province.
In comparison to the forced march of the Vaudois army, our hike will be easy and comfortable. We are not going to be chased - as they were - by two separate enemies, the armies of the king of France and the duke of Savoy; we will not be carrying heavy muskets and ammunition. We are going to experience comfortable accomodations and authentic mountain shelters in exceptionally beautiful spots. We will enjoy the best foods. Also, we will not be missing food for thought, listening to the tales of the local people, visiting the XVI century temple in Ghigo, the oldest of the Vaudois valleys. Our journey will end in Torre Pellice, stronghold of the Reformation in Italy, with its curious British looking homes and gardens.
- The Monviso - the “King of Stone” with its 3841 m - appearing at the Giulian Pass.
- The museum in the village of Rodoretto, a truly Vaudois and alpine traditional home.
- Tasting locally produced milk, butter and cheese at the agriturismo at Crosenna alpine pasture.
Betania Travel and its partners guarantee compliance with safety and conduct rules following the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Meeting point: Salbertrand (Turin) railway station, around 12 am, 24 July. Light lunch in local “trattoria” (optional). Frequent trains from Turin Porta Nuova station.
- End of trip: Torre Pellice, 31st of July. Bus to Pinerolo station in the afternoon, or earlier in the morning, in case of far away destinations. From Pinerolo station, trains to Turin every hour.
- Tour leader: Roberta Ferraris, guida ambientale escursionistica - Regione Piemonte, web-site - Facebook page.
- Difficulty: challenging
- Type of trip: walking, linear itinerary. Mostly on mountain pathways, with a ride on a chair-lift, to make things easier.
- Accomodation: mountain lodges, hotels, one “agriturismo”.
- Food and local products: cheese and cured meats, butter, traditional ricotta preserved in hay.
- Society and environment: the Vaudois church, the main Protestant denomination in Italy, is a vital and active community, with strong roots in the valleys Germanasca and Pellice. We will rely on the support and competence of the Centro Culturale Valdese, for guided tours to the most relevant Vaudois sites. During our trip we will also witness the return of a new farming generation, settling on long abandoned land.
Saturday, July 24th - From Salbertrand to Montagne Seu
We move our first steps from Salbertrand battle ground, where the Vaudois defeated the allied troops of France and Piedmont. After a look at the beautiful Saint John medieval church, we hike the Gran Bosco for the Arlaud lodge, in an ancient hamlet. We dine by candlelight, because there is no electricity in Montagne Seu! (4,2 km, 1h40 of walk, ascent 730 m, descent 20 m).
Sunday, July 25th - From Montagne Seu to Mulino di Laval
We continue our walk to the Costa Piana Pass, then we gradually climb down to Pragelato, in the Chisone valley. We will not stop at the village, but will move on, past the Olympic ski jumping ramps, to enter the wild Troncea Valley. Our accommodation will be a lodge in an old mill, not far from the Joussaud hamlet, where the Vaudois actually spent the night, after the battle. (17 km, 6 hour walk, ascent 850 m, descent 1000 m)
Monday, July 26th - From Mulino di Laval to Massello
It’s the Alps, for real! High mountain climb, today, up to the Colle del Pis (2614 m). Then we gradually walk down on high pastures, dotted with Edelweiss, in the Valloncò Valley. We pass by the magnificent Pis waterfall, and finally hit the bottom of the valley at La Balziglia hamlet. This was the Vaudois last refuge in 1698. A tiny trail along the river will lead us to our lodge. (21 km, 7 hour walk, ascent 880 m, descent 1490 m)
Tuesday, July 27th - From Massello to Rodoretto
We walk on comfortable forest pathways, visiting the various hamlets of Massello, then we move on towards Didiero, where we check out the local elementary school, financed in the XIX century by British general Beckwith. Through the Serrevecchio pass we reach Rodoretto, and visit the museum. With a short drive a bus takes us back to our lodge in Massello. (10 km, 4 hours walk, ascent 850 m, descenta 560 m).
Wednesday, July 28th - From Rodoretto to Ghigo di Prali
A short climb to the Golmont pass, still deep in the forests, and we are in sight of the main Germanasca Valley and the small town of Ghigo di Prali, where we will go deep in Vaudois culture and lifestyle, visiting the museum and the temple. (6,7 km, 3 hours, ascent 650 m, descent 650 m).
Thursday, July 29th - From Ghigo di Prali to Alpe Crosenna
The Giulian Pass was the last climb of the Vaudois. On the other side of the mountain the Val Pellice was their land and their heritage. We will reach the pass with the Sette Laghi chair-lift and comfortable military roads. We climb down the valley, reaching the small hamlet and the lodge of Alpe Crosenna, having as neighbors for the night the shepherd, his family and his herd of cows (16 km, 5h30 walk, ascent 780 m, descent 1300 m).
Friday, July 30th - From Alpe Crosenna to Torre Pellice
Step by step we reach Villanova, the first village along the Pellice river. We will follow the stream all the way to Bobbio, and, with one last effort, climb to Sibaud with an half hour walk. In Sibaud Vaudois soldiers and officers signed their oath of solidarity, swearing not to use their weapons against each other. We then reach Torre Pellice by public bus, for a nice dinner together in trattoria and a visit to the Vaudois Museum (9,2 km, 3 hours walk, ascent 230 m, descent 950 m).
Saturday, July 31st - From Torre Pellice to Vigne di Rorà
In the morning, short walk (optional) to the family house of Giosuè Gianavello, a hero during the persecution known as the Pasque Piemontesi (Easter Day of 1655), when more than 1700 civilians were tortured and killed by troops of the duke of Savoy. Gianavello was also the author of the “instructions”, a guerrilla booklet the Vaudois army closely and successfully followed in their Glorious Return. In the afternoon, a public bus will bring us to Pinerolo.
Note: in case of bad weather conditions, the program may change (the valleys offer very interesting cultural alternatives). The trip is open to both Italian and English speaking participants. All explanations will be in both languages.
8 days, 7 night
From 24 to 31 July 2021
Minimum participants: 6
Maximum participants: 15
- 7 nights in B&B
- 7 dinners
- Transfer as per program
- Entrances as per program
- GAE Guide of the Piedmont region Roberta Ferraris
- Video call to present the excursion.
- A nice gift
Anything not indicated in “Included”
- Possibility to request additional transfers
- Possibility to extend your stay
- Single room surcharge € 25,00 per day in structures where it is possible
- Medical and baggage insurance
- Possibility of requesting cancellation insurance
- Possibility to apply for covid-19 insurance
Price per person: from € 1155,00 p.p. minimum 6 max 9 participants; from € 955,00 p.p. minimum 10 max 15 participants