For one of my first posts, I chose to introduce you to one of my favorite spots in Italy (and maybe in Europe – although I still have so many places to go, things to explore). Not to mention it is only one hour and a half away from Turin (80 km that is), by car, taking the highway towards Pinerolo and then following directions for Villar Perosa, Perosa Argentina, Villaretto, Mentoulles and finally Chambons. There, turn right towards Pra Catinat for a 10 minutes ride between the clouds.
So, without further ado, I introduce all hiking lovers and wild-at-heart nature fans among you to Puy and Pequerel, two wonderful and picturesque mountain villages (i.e. borgate) situated in Val Chisone, Piedmont, right at the center of Orsiera Rocciavrè Regional Park.
My suggestion, for a first visit and a not-so-exhausting hike would be to go there during the summer, when the road is open all the way up, the curves leading to Pra Catinat (alt. 1650 m) seem more manageable, and you can enjoy the breathtaking view of the valley (the clearer the sky, the better). Leave behind the albergo and its structures, follow the road until you reach the upper (closed) gate of Forte di Fenestrelle (yup, the biggest alpine fortification in Europe, that’s the one).
You can park your car there and take it on foot, but make sure you have in your backpack enough water and food supplies, since the mountain air will make you wolf down pretty much everything, from small bushes to your beloved, if need be.
The (marked) route I wish to submit to your attention today firstly takes you to Puy – around 20 min of light hiking going downwards, with the sunlight seeping through the foliage and the bird-songs accompanying the lonely travelers.
After a wide curve, the path opens up into a clearing housing the few houses which represent borgata Puy. There it’s worth a stop at the church square, from where you can admire the peaks of the Val Chisone, particularly that of Mont Albergian, and on the right, the village of Pequerel.
As expected, the trail is also easy to follow – it leads you to cross the Puy stream, going upwards on the other side of the mountain; the easy slopes are taking you directly to Pequerel on a 15 min walk.
The way back to the parking spot follows the (partially) paved road situated at the top of the village, which serves as a balcony to the entire valley; it also links, when open, Val Chisone and Val di Susa.
Reach it, turn right and enjoy both the view of the valley and the occasional deer crossing your path. Take your time, you will reach your destination in about one hour.
The two villages to be explored are situated on the opposite sides of the valley of Mount Pelvo and go back in history to ancient times. Built by shepherds, who considered the surrounding pastures most suitable for their animals, Puy and Pequerel suffered in time major losses, due to being very exposed to avalanches. That’s why the inhabitants of Pequerel decided, in 1716, to build a wall (still in place today) to protect them from such disasters. In addition to that, they also cultivated, along the mountain side, a large pine plantation.
Unfortunately, at the present time both of them are, with a very few exceptions, deserted; nevertheless, things begin to get moving, as some of the rustici changed hands and underwent major renovation work.