Ossola Valley (Val d'Ossola) region is considered as one of the most beautiful areas in Piedmont, mainly because it is not hit by mass tourism. This makes it even more uncontaminated and wild and a true paradise for those who love mountains and nature. A vacation in Ossola Valley means being fully immersed in the beauties of a territory, which is capable of telling a centuries-old story through nature and traditions.
Nowadays, Ossola Valley is located in the northern part of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola region, a mainly mountain area, which extends from the Lake Maggiore to the borders of Switzerland. It is formed by seven different side valleys: Vigezzo valley, Divedro valley, Anzasca valley, Isorno valley, Bognanco valley, Antigorio-Formazza valley and Antrona valley. All territory is surrounded by mountains and it is mostly characterised by woods and amazing alpine lakes.
Apart from having different records as the highest waterfall of Europe named Cascata dal Toce, which is 469 ft high, and the second highest massif of the Alps named Monte Rosa, Ossola Valley includes a unique national park and 3 different regional ones:
- The national park of Val Grande: it was established to preserve the greatest and wildest mountain area of Europe. Here, it is possible to go trekking and meet many animals, which live in the Alps. Ibex, chamois, deers, wolves and golden eagles dominate over these territories.
- Natural park of Alpe Veglia and of Alpe Devero (regional): an amazing regional park, which presents two wide alpine pastures. It is an evidence of the geological history of the region, which dates back to the formation of the alpine arc.
- Natural reserve of the Sacred Mount Calvary (regional): this natural reserve includes mount Mattarella, which overlooks Domodossola. In 1656, two monks chose this place to host the Sacred Mount Calvary. Along the way, from the base to the top of the mount, one can find 12 chapels, which represent the stations of the Cross. Once you reach the top, an amazing view over the city and of the surrounding mountains is waiting for you.
The principal activity is breeding, thanks to the excellent pastures and meadows at high altitude. Here, a great variety of artisanal products are produced. Therefore, there are several traditional dishes one can taste in this region but cheeses and cured meats certainly are the most appreciated products.
Cheese, in particular, has a distinctive flavour thanks to the alpine aromas of our mountains, which make up the animals' diet during the summer. Bettelmatt, for instance, is an aged cheese produced only by few local producers, only in summer and only in pastures at high altitude. Its taste is unique thanks to particular alpine herbs, which one can find only in Antigorio-Formazza valley.
Another amazing cheese of Ossola Valley is Ossolano DOP.
It is produced following a traditional and ancient recipe of Walser culture, which was known since ancient times. In 1000, it was used as an exchange currency, according to some documents found in the region and in 2017, it was finally awarded the DOP designation.
Ossola Valley history
Ossola Valley history has very ancient documents. This region was inhabited by a pre-roman population, the Lepontii and Domodossola (named Oscela) was their most important centre.
There are still nowadays two necropolis respectively in Ornavasso and Migiandone, where a few hundred of tombs and artefacts of the I century b.C were found. After the Lepontii, Ossola Valley went at first under control of the Roman Empire and then of the Longobards.
These latter maintained their dominion until the Episcopal domination of Novara.
After all these struggles for power, in 1300, Walser populations arrived from Switzerland and from the Valsesia region. The Walser settled in Ossola Valley to take advantage of the climate change of that period: persistent mild temperature and retreating glaciers. Indeed, their purpose was looking for new uninhabited territories to find pastures and to settle. Their influence is still present nowadays and it is still possible to see some traces of their stay.