Duration: 1 day
Duration: 1 day
The route across the Colle delle Traversette is of historical importance. According to legend, Hannibal already crossed the Alps with his army and 37 elephants during the 2nd Punic War in 218 BC to reach Italy. The first alpine tunnel, the Buco del Viso, was dug in the Middle Ages. This was a great relief on the important trade route across the Alps. Valuable commodities, including salt, wool and spices, were dragged across the Alps on donkeys.
The starting point of the hike is the source of the Po river at Pian del Re. In summer the path to the Buco del Viso is easy to walk. The section between Buco del Viso and Colle delle Traversette requires sure-footedness and should only be walked on when the weather is nice and there is no snow. From Pian del Re, follow the GTA V16 signs along the Colle delle Traversette / Buco del Viso path. After passing a small stream, you come through a wide valley with grassy slopes littered with rubble.
The Salt Road goes uphill continuously and there are various branches that we ignore (Lago Superiore, Rifugio Giacoletti, Colle Armoine, Sentiero del Postino). The well-signposted hiking trail to the Pian Mait plateau winds over serpentines. The path continues in a large curve up a steep slope. Passing barbed wire, we meet the ruins of barracks that served to defend the border at Colle delle Traversette. The V22 goes off to the right to Passo del Luisas, which we ignore and keep to the left. A little later, the turnoff comes to the Buco del Viso and Colle delle Traversette at an altitude of 2882 m. The entrance to the tunnel is less than 100 meters away.
In good weather, you can take a circular route. We recommend taking the way straight ahead over the Pass Colle delle Traversette and the way back through the Buco del Viso. The tunnel is officially called Galleria delle Traversette. It takes about 50 minutes from Pian Mait (2717m) to Colle delle Traversette (2938m). If you have climbed the steep path, you will ideally be rewarded with a wonderful view. Unfortunately, we were unlucky that day because it was foggy. The path over the pass is steep and requires sure-footedness. It is quite dangerous when wet. In bad weather, only the passage through the tunnel is recommended. A flashlight should be carried to cross the tunnel. Once you have crossed the Galleria delle Traversette, it goes downhill over rocks to the junction at the barracks ruin. The way back can be done in the same way back to Pian del Re or continue at the Sentiero del Postino junction towards Rifugio Giacoletti.
We provide a Piedmont authorized Mountain Guide that speaks your language. Our guide will accompany you on this hike. He or she will give you interesting details on the way and draws your attention to the special features of the region and the special mountain cuisine. This will give you some insight about the Monviso and Okzitan culture in Piedmont.
The hiking tour is organized only for you and your fellow travelers. They are conducted in the language you choose. We have experienced local guides for Italian, English, French. Other languages on request or with interpreter.
The above price has been calculated for a group of 8 participants on a 3-hour hike (only in one direction). For the return, you have to calculate another 3 hours. Please let us know the number of participants and special wishes with your request.
Your guide can meet you at Pian del Re or at your hotel in Piedmont. We can organize transport to the meeting point and collect you from the endpoint.
The Via del Sale are ancient paths that connect Italy and France through mountains and alpine passes. There are numerous alpine crossings on which the coveted spice and many other valuable goods were transported. The trade route used to be important for traders and shepherds who had to cross the Alps with their donkeys. But pilgrims also benefit from the paths that were well developed at that time. Today, the Via del Sale is a popular tourist route for hiking through the Alps and in some places even for mountain bikers.
The Buco di Viso tunnel connects France to Italy at the Monviso Mountain. The “hole through the Monviso” is the first alpine tunnel ever. It was dug through the Cottian Alps in 1475-1480 under the reign of Margrave Ludwig II of Saluzzo. The aim was to create a more convenient trade route between Grenoble and Saluzzo and to avoid the dangerous and hard-to-walk Colle delle Traversette. The tunnel is 75 m long, approx. 3 m wide and 2 m high and just enough to allow donkeys to be loaded with goods. The Buco del Viso was part of the salt road – Via del Sale, on which the valuable spice was transported from France to Italy. The tunnel was abandoned for many years and was only reactivated in 1997 and reconstructed in 2014. Today you can use a flashlight to walk through the Buco del Viso to France. The tunnel is only accessible in summer and autumn.
The route across the Colle delle Traversette is of historical importance. Hanibal and his army and 37 elephants already crossed the Alps in 218 BC to reach Italy. Later, in his sacred comedy, Dante described the Carthaginians who crossed the Alps to Hanibal. The Colle delle Traversette was used under the Margrave Ludwig as a trade route between Italy and France.