Italy’s longest river and “Mississippi” is the Po. It originates in the Cottian Alps on the Pian del Re at an altitude of over 2000 m above Crissolo. On its way to the plain, the Po crosses the municipalities of Crissolo, Ostana, Oncino, Paesana, Sanfront, Martiniana Po and Saluzzo. The neighboring river valleys of Valle Varaita, Valla Maira and Valle Grana are further tributaries that feed the Po before it flows as a leisurely stream through the Po plain and later flows south of Venice into the Po delta and the Adriatic Sea.
We invite you to explore the valley of the Po River, sample the local food delicacies and imerse in the nature of the foot lands of Cottian Alps. Here you can take wonderful hikes and discover landscapes without many visitors.
Der kleine Ort Martiniana Po liegt mit seinen 700 Einwohnern am Eingang des Tales des Po an der Straße zwischen Saluzzo und Sanfront. Der bekannteste Sohn des Ortes ist der Maler Giovanni Borgna, genannt Netou. Er lebte von 1854 bis 1902. Seine Freskenmalereien findet man in den Kirchen der Region sowie in Via Roma 49, seinem Geburtshaus in Martiniana Po. Es eröffnet sich ein wunderbarer Blick auf östlicher Seite über die Langhe und westlich zum Bergmassiv des Monviso. Martiniana Po ist Ausgangspunkt für zahlreiche Wanderungen über Felder und durch dichte Wälder sowie Mountainbike-Touren.
In the middle of the valley of the Po lies the municipality of Sanfront at an altitude of 490 m. A castle once stood on the picturesque hill. The community consists of several small settlements.
The church of San Martino was consecrated in 1494. In 1549 the French King Enrico II visited the church during his stay in the Margraviate of Saluzzo. Inside the church there are frescoes from the 19th century by Netu Borgna from neighboring Martiniana Po. In addition to agriculture and cattle breeding, Sanfront also features handicrafts, woodworking and the restoration of antique furniture. From Sanfront you have a wonderful view over the nearby Monte Bracco, the mountain of the Leonardo with 1250m height.
The historic settlement “Balma Boves” is located on Monte Bracco. These are stone houses built into the rocks. Numerous legends surround the demons and witches of an extinct volcano on which no snow remains. The rock houses on the mountain of Leonardo, the Mombracco, were prepared as an open-air museum. The settlement of Balma Boves brings the habitat of the families on the Mombracco mountain back to life. Under a large protective rocky outcrop, the families had set up with cattle and agriculture and lived independently from the outside world. Guided tours take place on weekends in summer.
Paesana is a small town in the valley of the Po with a favorable climate at 614m altitude. From there you get to the higher altitudes of Ostana, Oncino and Crissolo. The Po divides Paesana into two districts. They correspond to the parishes of Santa Maria and Santa Margherita. Paesana got its name from the Po: Padus per i Latini. The Brotherhood of Santa Maria is located next to the town hall. The frescoes on the church front show works by the painter Borgna. Paesana offers sporting and cultural opportunities, an outdoor pool, tennis and soccer field, roller skating piste as well as a volleyball court and bocce court.
Fresh products from the surrounding towns are offered at the weekly market. The valley of the Po is a paradise for cheese lovers. Here you will find excellent cheeses such as Tomino, Nostrale and the award-winning Castelmagno. Hiking trails lead to Mombracco, the “Mountain of Leonardo” and to Pian Muné, where you can walk through thick forests and pastures and be pampered with the fruits.
At Mombracco there are several places for climbers, the Pian Muné is a ski area and at 1,500 m there is a jump point for gliders.
A little off the Saluzzo – Crissolo road is the small town of Ostana at 1282 m, which is called Oustano in the Occitan dialect. This little place is almost untouched by tourism. The special architecture was well preserved. Here you can find relaxation and tranquility while hiking in a healthy climate. Ostana is the starting point for hikes on the hiking trails “Le Borgate” (4 hours), “Le Meire” (3 hours) and “I Pascoli” (6 hours). All paths are suitable for the whole family.
The routes can also be covered by mountain bike. From Ostana you can enjoy the wonderful view over the mountain group of the Monviso with the peaks of the Monviso called Visolotto, Gastaldi, Roma, Udine, Venezia, Rocce Fourioun, and to Colle delle Traversette and Monte Granero.
The Po flows through the middle of Crissolo and determines the life of the original mountain town at an altitude of 1333m. You can hardly imagine the overwhelming strength of the Po river when it jumps over the stones sparkling and lively in summer. When the Turin families sent their wives and children to the countryside over the summer months, Crissolo was a well-visited tourist center of the Po Valley. Today it has become rather quiet.
A special attraction in Crissolo is the San Martino grotto. It is about 10 minutes walk from the beach, a small reservoir of the Po. The underground path system of the Grotto San Martino extends over several floors. The lower arm is easily accessible and ends at a waterfall 40 m high.
Crissolo is the last town at the foot of the Monviso and therefore the starting point for numerous excursions in summer and winter as well as sporting activities. Several hiking trails and a narrow road lead to the Pian Regina and further to the Pian del Re at the source of the Po at an altitude of 2020 m.
Whether day or multi-day hikes, there are numerous tours over the mountains. Bikers and climbers will also get their money’s worth in this area. The lifts, which transport skiers to lofty heights, are in operation from the first snow. The tours around the Monviso are also suitable for ski hikes. Alpine skiing can be practiced from January to June at the appropriate heights. The Sella and Giacoletti mountain huts are also open in winter and spring. A cross-country ski run is prepared at an altitude of 1745 m on the Pian Regina, where there is also a natural ice rink for skating.
Grotto di Rio Martino
A special attraction in Crissolo is the Rio Martino grotto. It is about 10 minutes walk from the beach La Spiaggia, a small reservoir of the Po. The underground path system of the Grotto San Martino extends over several floors. The lower arm is easily accessible and ends at a waterfall 40 m high.
The cave can be explored on foot without any special equipment. On the attractive tour you can see stalactites and stalagmites, with significant chromatic variations. At the end of the tour there is a spectacular waterfall. Here you will be glad to have carried the torchlights and a rain cape standing in the spray of the waterfall smashing into a lake in the cave. Humidty 100%, temperature 5C.
Typical Delicacies in the Po Valley
“As soon as autumn comes, we like to gather around the laid table … with vegetables and a steaming bowl made of stoneware in the middle, filled with Bagna Cauda, a spicy anchovy sauce, into which we dip wedges of paprika, potatoes, kale and we garnish with our laughter and chatting … In the evenings, roasts are sometimes prepared in the courtyard with children shouting and hiking songs in the crackling fire chestnuts, which are called Mundaij in our country. Our country means well with us because it gives us mushrooms, chestnuts, peaches, blueberries and blackberries , which are processed in our factories using biological processes … There are also lush meadows where cattle can graze and where the shepherds produce the well-known Tumin Dal Mel and Castelmagno, the most famous and valuable cheese in Italy, which has always been at the tables of the kings! … In addition, we have DOC wines such as the Pelaverga and Quagliano, as well as the maize for the Batiaje e sweet specialty for the christening party. ”
Typical round flour biscuits made from corn flour. According to local tradition, the name “Batiaje” has its ancient origins from when laying a child on the baptismal font was a great celebration. “Anduma a Batjé” means “to be baptized” and the festival was called “Fé Bataje”.
The Ravioles are a recipe that has become a symbol of the entire Varaita Valley over the years. It is a kind of potato gnocchi, which are mixed in the shepherd’s Toma cheese. They have a characteristic elongated shape “a Mó di Fuso”. They are served with melted butter, cream and cheese.