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Hidden Gems
Piedmont's Hidden Gem: Val Maira

Piedmont’s Hidden Gem: Val Maira Trek


Piedmont’s remote and rugged high valley of Val Maira lies in the southern Italian Alps, near the French border. Val Maira is a beautiful place, now slowly being discovered as a walker’s paradise. You will walk through picturesque hamlets and villages and take in the high peaks shaped by the retreating glaciers. You will not find busy roads and mass tourism here, but pristine mountain scenery, lots of sun, welcoming accommodations savouring warm hospitality and delicious Occitan cuisine.


  • Secluded mountains and beautiful valleys
  • Ancient villages with Roman and Gothic churches
  • Delicious local food

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Day 1: Arrive in San Michele Prazzo

Arrive in the village of San Michele Prazzo at 1370 m altitude and take some time to visit the beautifully painted local church. You will be picked up from the bus stop and transferred to the first accommodation.

Day 2: Lou Viol Dal Genestè Circular Walk | 10 km

Today’s walk is on the southern slopes above San Michele and follows part of the Lou Viol Dal Genestè trail. This circular route takes you into contact with nature, from forests of larch and spruce to grasslands and rocky crags.

Day 3: San Michele to Ponte Maira | 17 km

Today you will enjoy a challenging but rewarding hike high above the valley with beautiful views. The walk goes through woods and meadows, and you will pass only a few tiny hamlets. Arrive at the accommodation in Acceglio and enjoy the quaint atmosphere of the place.

  • Walking for the day: 17 km, 7 hrs, ­↑­­­­1050 m ↓986 m
  • Accommodation: Locanda Mistral or similar

Day 4: Chiappera Circular Walk | 10 km

A short morning transfer will bring you to Chiappera, the last restored village of Val Maira at 1620 m altitude, where the day’s walk starts. The village has a tavern and a beautiful church with frescoes. The initial climb to the striking Rocca Provenzale is a bit tough, but after Colle Greguri (2309 m), it becomes a leisurely walk back to Chiappera, where you will be picked up and taken back to your accommodation.

  • Walking for the day: 10 km, 4 hrs, ­↑­­­­906 m ↓723 m
  • Accommodation: Locanda Mistral or similar

Day 5: Sentiero dei Frassati Circular Walk | 16 km

Another short transfer in the morning will bring you this time to Sorgenti Maira, where today’s walk on the Sentiero Frassati starts. This itinerary goes past a few beautiful mountain lakes, such as the deep blue Lago Apzoi at 2300 m altitude, as well as a series of bunkers that Mussolini built on the border with France. It is possible to walk back to Ponte Maira, or you can take a transfer from Sorgenti Maira (to be paid on the spot).

  • Walking for the day: 16 km, 6-7 hrs, ­↑945 m ↓930 m (13 km if you take a taxi at the end of the walk)
  • Accommodation: Locanda Mistral or similar 

Day 6: Ponte Maira to Viviere | 9 km

Today you leave Ponte Maira for the tiny mountain village of Viviere, located on the cooler and more forested northern slope of the Val Maira. A long climb brings you to the Colle Ciarbonet (2206 m), then you start descending to Viviere, where you will be staying in a cosy, welcoming hut.

  • Walking for the day: 9 km, 5 hrs, ­↑­­­­603 m ↓509 m
  • Accommodation: Rifugio di Viviere or similar

Day 7: Colle Oserot Walk | 13 km

This final stage takes you up to Colle Oserot (2640 m). This is a very nice walk along steep limestone cliffs and green meadows with great panoramic views. You can also make a short detour to Rifugio Gardetta (2380 m), situated on the Plateau Gardetta.

  • Walking for the day: 13 km, 5-6 hrs, ­↑­­­­1007 m ↓876 m
  • Accommodation: Rifugio di Viviere or similar

Day 8: Departure

Departure on your own or extension upon request. From Viviere you will be brought to the bus stop in Acceglio.

What to Expect


You will stay in renovated colourful and cosy farmhouses located in quiet little villages, all with spacious rooms with a private bathroom. You will be warmly welcomed everywhere, and the accommodation owners can tell you all about the area and the walks. The accommodation in Viviere is a lovely hut and has a few rooms. If there is no availability there, we book a room in the village of Chialvetta that is 2 km and 200 m lower than Viviere.

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Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.


The trip includes seven breakfasts, seven dinners and six packed lunches. A large breakfast is served each morning and, on walking days, you get a packed lunch prepared by the accommodation. A delicious dinner with local specialties is served every night at the restaurant of the accommodation.

Difficulty & terrain

The walks are moderate to demanding, some of them longer and more challenging as the climbings can be quite steep. The walk on day 5 is demanding because of the elevation change (you walk uphill for about 900 m and then you descend for 720 m), but it is not technically difficult, and it is very panoramic. A good level of fitness is required for enjoying the walks to the maximum (read more about difficulty grades). The walks are over mountain meadows, woodland trails, dirt tracks, stony paths and inevitable pieces of asphalt roads in the villages. All the paths are well marked and regularly maintained. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to go

You can start your holiday every day between 1 June and 5 October. The climate in this valley is similar to the one you can find in other alpine valleys. Temperatures in summer are mild, with warm days and cool nights. Due to its particular position, one valley side is in the sun when the other side is in the shadow so, you need to take a warm pullover with you when you hike on the shady side.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

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By plane

Our recommended arrival/departure airports for this holiday are the ones in Turin (Italy) and Nice (France), which are all served by the major and low-cost international carriers.

By train or bus

Both airports are connected to the major cities in the area by public transport, which is affordable and offers frequent service. From Torino Airport (TRN), reach the train station Torino Porta Nuova and take a train to Cuneo. From Nice Airport (NCE), reach the Nice-Ville train station and get on the Train des Merveille to Cuneo.

From Cuneo, there are only a few direct buses to Prazzo. You need to reach Prazzo Inferiore by bus (with a change in Dronero). In Prazzo Inferiore, you will be picked up by us and taken to your accommodation (~5 km). It is possible to pre-book a transfer from Cuneo to your accommodation. Check the up-to-date timetables on www.trenitalia.com and www.tendemerveilles.com or use the Omio planer above.



  • 7 nights in mountain lodges (private rooms, en-suite facilities)
  • 7 breakfasts
  • 7 dinners
  • 6 packed lunches (days 2 to 7)
  • Luggage and people transfer on Day 1 from  Prazzo bus stop to San Michele (If you are coming by car, you can drive directly to first accommodation, park it there and on Day 8 we will drop you off to collect it at no additional cost)
  • Luggage transfers on Day 3 and Day 6 (1 piece up to 15 kg per person; each additional bags costs 10 EUR)
  • People transfer Day 4: in the morning from Ponte Maira to Chiappera and in the afternoon at the end of the walk from Chiappera to Ponte Maira
  • People transfer on Day 5 from Ponte Maira to Sorgenti Maira 
  • People and luggage transfer on Day 8  from Viviere/Chialvetta to Acceglio bus stop
  • Holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route notes and maps (digital copy sent by email and a hard copy delivered at the first hotel)
  • 24/7 phone support by our local office/representative


  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Additional luggage transfer
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Local tourist tax & entry fees (payable on the spot)
  • Personal expenses
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘Included’ in the programme

Options, extras & supplements

  • Supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room / single use of a double room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Extra nights
  • Private transfer from/to Turin airport or from/to Cuneo train station