THE OLDEST PARK IN ITALY
In 1856 King Vittorio Emanuele II declares the Royal Paradise Hunting Reserve the mountains of "Gran Paradiso", the only “4000” placed entirely in Italian territory, saving the Alpine ibex (Capra ibex) from extinction, which has now disappeared from the whole Alpine arc, except made for a few hundred specimens distributed precisely around the Gran Paradiso massif: from now on only the king and the royal family will be able to hunt him.
325 kilometers of mule tracks were built or refitted between 1860 and 1900, which connected five "royal hunting lodges", located at 2000-2200 meters above sea level. The "casine" were located in Orvieille and on the plans of the Nivolet (today's Savoia refuge) in Valsavarenche, at the "Gran Piano" of Noasca in the Orco Valley, in Dondena in the Champorcher valley and at the Lauson in Valnontey (respectively today's Dondena and Vittorio Sella refuges).
These rideable mule tracks were organized with a main backbone of 150 kilometers, which connected the royal houses, crossing passes and steep slopes, and several branches for 175 kilometers, in the direction of the gamekeeper's lodges and the hunting posts, the most remote of which they were often located on the edge of the surface once occupied by glaciers!
In 1913 the last royal hunt took place; six years later Vittorio Emanuele III decides to cede the territories of his owned Gran Paradiso to the Italian State, indicating as a condition the creation of a National Park for the protection of alpine flora and fauna.
On December 3, 1922 the Gran Paradiso National Park was established, the first Italian National Park and the gamekeepers become today's members of the surveillance body, that is, the park rangers. And it is precisely for this historical heritage that the figure of the park guard remains to this day a peculiarity of the "Gran Paradiso National Park": in all other national parks, in fact, surveillance is entrusted to the military corps of the Forest Carabinieri (former State Forestry Corps) , just as in the major US national parks it is entrusted to the "Forester", the so-called "rangers".
Starting from the protected area, the ibex will gradually begin to repopulate the Alpine arc, both spontaneously and with the reintroduction of animals caught there.
In recent years, the park has seen an increase in wildlife with the return of the wolf and the first nesting of the "Gipeto" in the Western Alps.
Starting from the second post-war period, the presence of the Park and a mix of geographic, naturalistic, historical and cultural factors meant that the Alpine valleys affected by the protected area remained outside the dynamics linked to the development of mass tourism, preserving their 'authenticity.
These factors reverberated with particular intensity in the Orco and Soana valleys, located on the Piedmont side of the Park: two valleys whose destiny seems to be to see the return of nature and the extinction of man.
Taking a trip in the territory of the Gran Paradiso National Park means experiencing the thrill of a full-immersion in an area characterized by extensive "wilderness": large uncontaminated spaces, glaciers, rushing streams, close encounters with wildlife, mountains who have made the history of mountaineering (even if not the cover story), legendary walls that have kept modern climbing as a baptism, tranquility, silence, recollection, genuine but sincere hospitality, never flattering.
RULES OF CONDUCT
If it is true that it is necessary to be respectful of the environment in any place, even more so it must be within a protected area. Only in this way will it be possible to keep intact a precious heritage that belongs to all of us.
Let's see together what are the behaviors to adopt. The action of one person may seem insignificant, but when repeated by thousands of tourists it becomes a serious problem.
Waste: bring them back to the valley.
After a picnic do not abandon waste and do not hide it under a stone. Remember that paper napkins, which are biodegradable, take almost a year to destroy in the mountains. Not to mention plastic bags, practically indestructible. Some wastes are also dangerous for animals as they are sharp (glass, open boxes, ...); others, such as cans and bottles, turn into deadly traps for insects and small rodents.
Flowers, insects and minerals: leave them where they are.
Let's not forget that the elements of nature and landscape have their function in the place where they live. Who hasn't happened to pick up a bouquet of flowers in a meadow or some rock fragments with beautiful colors?
Flowers do not exist only for our personal pleasure but are necessary for the natural environment.
Fires and tents: only in authorized areas.
In the natural environment, even the slightest gesture of inattention can cause serious damage: switch on
the fire only in the equipped areas and when you smoke do not leave the lit butt. Besides being a waste it could cause a fire!
Animals are sensitive to human presence. If you camp where you want, you can disturb the wildlife and ruin the pastures.
If you want to stay in a tent you are welcome, as long as you use the appropriate campsites.
Wild animals: leave them alone.
After the long winter, ibex and chamois have only the summer months available to get well fed to the breeding season. Don't try to get close but watch them from afar, so they can eat safely. Even marmots and birds of passage need peace of mind to accumulate resources and be able to survive the long months in the den and the endless flight to the wintering areas in Africa.
Paths and mule tracks: do not go away.
When you walk in the mountains you can happen to take a shortcut. This innocent behavior in the long run creates several problems:
• ruin the turf
• causes deep furrows in which the rain is channeled and, running fast, erodes the ground.
Furthermore, the trampling of mowing lawns makes it impossible to cut hay, which is a wealth for the farmer. Finally, if you move away from the paths, you can also risk getting lost!
Dogs: better not.
Surely your dog is good. He is certainly very obedient. Maybe you always take it on a leash. But are you sure that your dog, smelling the wild, does not get out of hand, perhaps for fun, and does not chase a chamois or a marmot, scaring them? In this case, you would even expose yourself to a criminal complaint. Unfortunately, every year we collect animals torn by dogs ... Therefore the introduction of dogs is prohibited in the park. If you love your dog you also love all animals. Think about it. For more information visit the page dedicated to the introduction of dogs into the Park, with the areas and paths where it is allowed to take them, always on a leash, in derogation of the regulation
Paragliding flights: the reasons for a ban.
Overflight by any means, in the Park as in any other national protected area, represents a criminal offense on the basis of the framework law 394 on Protected Areas. Numerous studies, conducted in recent years in an alpine environment, show how paragliding can cause a considerable disturbance towards wildlife and in particular of mountain ungulates, such as chamois and ibex.
To understand the reasons for the ban, you can read the article "Paragliding in the Gran Paradiso National Park? The reasons for a ban".
FLORA & FAUNA
The fauna has its emblem in the Alpine ibex, a symbol of the park and now widespread in many specimens.
Among the mammals we remind that during the walks it is possible to meet chamois, marmots, hares, foxes, badgers, stoats, weasels, martens, martens.
It is also frequent to come across birds of prey such as the eagle, the bearded vulture (recently returned to nest in the protected area), the buzzard, the kestrel, the sparrow hawk, the goshawk, the eagle owl, the tawny owl and birds such as ptarmigan, black grouse, rock partridge, green woodpecker, great spotted woodpecker, mountain francolin, dipper, robin, thrush, beccafico, mountain climber, wall woodpecker and many others.
There are many varieties of reptiles, insects and amphibians, such as vipers, the Parnassius butterfly, tritons and salamanders.
Depending on the environment we can find:
Grasslands and rocky environments:
Alpine ibex, chamois, marmots, white hare, rock ptarmigan, bearded vulture, golden eagle.
Roe deer, deer, squirrel, wild boar
Edge of the forest:
Gallo Forcello, The rock partridge
fox, wolf, lynx, stoat
The park protects an area characterized by a predominantly alpine environment.
The mountains of the group have in the past been carved and shaped by large glaciers and streams to create the current valleys.
In the woods of the valley floor the most frequent trees are larches, mixed with spruce, Swiss stone pine and more rarely with silver fir.
As you climb along the slopes, the trees give way to the vast alpine pastures, full of flowers in late spring. Going up and up to 4061 meters of Gran Paradiso are the rocks and glaciers that characterize the landscape.
The environments are divided into these categories, and for each of them there are characteristic plants and flowers:
The edge of the woods
For further information on the park's flora and fauna, please visit the Flora and Fauna section on the official website at this address: http://www.pngp.it/visita-il-parco
The culinary tradition of the Orco and Soana valleys and more generally of the Canavese valleys (Sacra, Chiusella, Malone) is strongly linked to the territory and its resources, as well as to its history, which is very ancient. Thus the practice of breeding gave birth to the traditional production of milk and dairy products.
Before going into the description of the individual dairy products, it must be said that not all dairy products in the world are the same, as scientific studies have now amply demonstrated that the feeding of milking items has a profound effect on the chemical-bromatological characteristics of the end products. From a milk obtained from grazing fresh grass and / or mountain fodder, we will have butter and cheeses rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, ie the famous "omega-3", whose anticancer and production properties of the so-called "good cholesterol" are now widely recognized in literature.
In the Canavese valleys you can find this type of cheese!
The toma is a whole or partially skimmed raw cow's milk cheese with a soft or semi-hard texture, medium seasoning with a cylindrical shape and flat or slightly convex faces.
The weight of the toma forms usually ranges from 3.0 to 7.0 kg; the smooth rind and straw / grayish color. it can present the typical dip on a plate due to the traditional forming technique that uses only the natural fiber sheet, without mold.
The paste is colored from straw yellow to white with small and diffuse holes, with a consistency between soft and semi-hard; the flavor, with its characteristic, harmonious and delicate aroma, is linked to the seasonal varieties of the flora, resulting more intense and fragrant with aging.
Whole or partially skimmed milk is used for its production, combining the milk from two milkings (in the evening it is put in pots to surface and then added to the milk from the morning milking); milk from a single milking can also be used.
The milk, placed in a copper pot, is heated until it reaches a coagulation temperature of about 35-37° C which is maintained for an average duration of one hour, using both liquid and powdered animal rennet. For this reason we speak of "semi-cooked" pasta cheese.
Subsequently the breaking of the curd begins, carried out with the spino, up to reduce the granules in size of corn / rice grains, which serves to separate it from the whey.
The curd thus obtained is then formed in molds or, as usually happens in the mountain pastures, simply with a cloth. Sometimes an additional pressing step is carried out to improve the bleeding and the consistency of the curd, which is then salted.
Seasoning takes place in cellars or “crottini” (rooms with ceilings, walls and floors in natural stone) or other rooms suitable for this phase. The seasoning boards can be made of wood; minimum seasoning is 15 days for the smaller ones and 60 days for the larger ones.
Bruss is a refermented cream cheese, crumbly when cut like dry ricotta, a fresh cheese without a rind that can be consumed young or after 5-6 months of seasoning, which is produced from whey.
The processing requires that a certain proportion of freshly milked milk or of the milking of the night before is added to the whey of the day before, then it is left to rest for 2 to 3 hours even up to a whole night, sometimes adding a variable quantity of cream . The serum is then drained into sheets. The pasta can be mixed with salt and pepper or chilli pepper.
CREAM AND BUTTER
The butter derives from the processing of the cream, which is obtained by natural surfacing by letting the milk rest in refrigerated tanks; the cream thus surfaced is then transferred to the churn, an instrument where it is beaten by centrifugal action, favoring the agglomeration of the fat and its separation from the buttermilk.
Once churned, the butter must be washed with plenty of cold water and kneaded by hand, to encourage the buttermilk to come out and make it as homogeneous as possible. Finally, the dough is placed in the special wooden molds, carved with characteristic motifs, where it takes the shape of a stick with variable dimensions. From 100 liters of milk you get about 10 liters of cream and only 3 kilos of butter.
Polenta is a dish based on water and corn flour, which in the past has long been the staple food of many Alpine and Apennine regions. In addition to corn flour, it was also sometimes prepared with chestnut flour or by mixing the two types of flour.
In traditional preparation, the water is salted and brought to a boil in a copper pot, then the flour is added by rain, mixing everything with a specially shaped wooden stick (the talup) to avoid the formation of lumps. The cooking lasts about 45 minutes and the polenta is considered cooked when the characteristic incrustations on the edges of the cauldron begin to form: it is then removed from the heat and turned over onto a wooden board, where it is cut into portions with the use of a wire.
Polenta was eaten as it was, perhaps accompanied with a plate of vegetable or cheese soup, or cut into small pieces and mixed with milk (polenta and milk), typically for dinner and \ or breakfast.
Particularly delicious is the polenta prepared with Pignoletto Rosso corn, a local Canavese stone-ground variety.
Polenta concia is prepared by adding diced butter and cheese to the cooked polenta. There are numerous variations of preparation: the simplest involves simply adding the butter and cheese and continuing to mix until the aforementioned ingredients have dissolved; others instead of transferring the polenta cooked in bowls or trays alternating it with layers of butter and cheese and then passing everything in the oven or on the stove for a few minutes.
Typical recipe of the municipality of Ribordone (TO), in the Orco valley: it is a ball of polenta filled with cheeses toasted on cast iron.
SPONTANEOUS HERBS IN THE KITCHEN
Another feature of mountain cuisine is the use of edible spontaneous herbs, which in past times constituted a valuable food supplement for mountain populations, linked to subsistence agriculture. Among the most used herbs we mention: nettle (Urtica dioica), cujet (Silene vulgaris), biavetta (Polygonum bistorta), gitulla (Rumex acetosa), ajucca (Phyteuma sp.), Wild spinach (Chenopodium bonus-henricus). The young shoots of hops (Humulus lupulus, locally called luvertin), as well as those of yellow-flowered chicken milk (Ornithogalum pyrenaicum) were cooked as asparagus. Below we are going to list some of the traditional herbal dishes.
MINESTRONE OF WILD HERBS
Typical spring dish, it is prepared simply by collecting, washing and boiling the leaves and / or tops of numerous edible herbs, depending on those available on site.
WILD HERB SOUPS
They are cooked by recovering the hardened bread, cooked and soaked in broth together with the cooked herbs, adding cheese flakes and eventually passing everything in the oven. Particularly sought after is the ajucca soup, a typical dish of Valchiusella, where this type of herb is present in considerable quantities.
Characteristic of gitulle is the sour taste, similar to lemon juice. The omelette is prepared by blanching the gitulle in a pan, then adding the beaten eggs.
WINE & SPIRITS
ERBALUCE DI CALUSO
Obtained from the homonymous autochthonous white grape variety characteristic of the Canavese from which this wine is produced, the most important in terms of production in the province and the first white in Piedmont to have obtained the D.O.C. in 1967. From the same grape, among the few examples in Italy, three versions of DOC wines are obtained: still, passito and sparkling: ERBALUCE DI CALUSO, CALUSO PASSITO, CALUSO SPUMANTE
Obtained from the Nebbiolo grape, whose denomination, of origin also dates back to 1967, in a fascinating environment whose vineyards become elements of landscape architecture of absolute originality. The production specification provides for mandatory aging of at least three years.
Established in 1997, it includes the types Bianco, Rosso, Rosato, Barbera and Nebbiolo.
WHITE: straw yellow in color, fruity bouquet and dry taste.
RED: ruby red in color, with an intense, vinous aroma and a dry flavor. It is also produced in the new version.
ROSATO: pinkish color tending to light ruby, delicate and vinous bouquet.
BARBERA: ruby red color with violet reflections, slightly fruity perfume and dry, harmonious, full-bodied flavor.
NEBBIOLO: ruby red color tending to garnet, floral bouquet and dry flavor, full-bodied, slightly tannic.
In the Gran Paradiso area numerous liqueurs are produced from different species of aromatic herbs. The most famous and characteristic is certainly the genepy, which is obtained starting from the species Artemisia genipi and Artemisia umbelliformis: excellent digestive, it also has expectorant properties and a gradation ranging from 35 to 42°.
Other characteristic liqueurs that are produced in the area from various species of aromatic herbs are rue (Achillea grass-broken), "kummel" (or cumin, obtained by macerating the seeds of the Carum Carvi umbrella), gentian (bitter obtained starting from Gentiana lutea or gentiana acaulis) and blueberry (starting from Vaccinium myrtilus).
Chestnut growing has for centuries been an essential component of the food and rural economy of the Alpine and Apennine areas (the so-called chestnut age). Chestnuts were in fact both consumed as such, boiling or preparing them as roasted chestnuts, and ground to obtain flour. In the Canavese area there are two in particular the traditionally cultivated varieties: neirana, with shiny fruit of small load, particularly tasty; Verdese, with light fruit of medium and large size, suitable for industrial processing.
The remarkable wealth of the local flora means that different types of mountain honey can be produced in the Canavese area:
- multifloral: alpine flora and honey with a prevalence of chestnut and linden;
- unifloral: chestnut, rhododendron, linden.
It is a resinous substance foraging by bees in the buds of certain plants (birches, willows); propolis is recognized for its antibacterial, anesthetic, cicatrizing and anti-inflammatory properties. Indicated for respiratory tract infections, it is now used by chivuol to treat itself with natural means.
It is a well-known product in the Canavese area that originally allowed to optimize the yield of bacon, bacon and lean and minced pork trimmings by mixing equal quantities of boiled potatoes to the dough.
Of pork origin, put in brine with aromatic herbs and salt, then seasoned or worked with muscat wine.
Macerated meat with spices, dried later for about a month, can be of beef, goat or game.
Rolled pork belly, spiced with an aftertaste of rosemary and garlic.
RAW OF THE SOANA VALLEY
Recognizable by the brand in focus, only Italian pig legs are used and each base of its processing, from salting to seasoning, is entirely handmade.
The original recipe was created in the late nineteenth century. After mixing butter, corn flour, sugar, wheat flour, eggs and lemon, the pastes are placed on a tin, using a tin-plated copper syringe to manually push the dough through a piston, and bake at a temperature of 170 degrees and for 20 minutes. The result is a meliga paste that is unrivaled for quality and fragrance.
These are the main base camps and support points for the various activities we offer.
Depending on the location they will be more or less hospitable, but on the other hand if you are on these sites you are not looking for a 5 star hotel.
In the photo the legendary Ivrea bivouac, the most luxurious of our hotels .. :-).
Bivacco Ivrea, Locana. 2760 m
Rifugio le Fonti Minerali, Ceresole Reale. 1500 m
Rifugio le Fonti Minerali, Ceresole Reale. 1500 m