National Park of Valgrande
The Val Grande Valley was established as a National Park in 1992. This consists in approximately 15,000 hectares of land enclosed among Lake Maggiore and Val Cannobina on the East Side, Val Vigezzo on hte North and Val d'ossola to the South and West. Ther World Wilderness Association defined this Park as "the sole European natural area that integrally maintains its original ambient conditions". It is a secluded territory, protected by steep mountains, and can be accessed only through walkable passes. It was once inhabited by people practising sheep raising and deforestation. Now it is deserted and nature has savagely taken over during the last forty years or more since man has stopped handling. The rich variety of vegetation is one of the most interesting characteristic of this valley, inhabited by chamois, roebucks, fox, deer and many other animal kinds, among which the eagle. The most suitable time of the year to visit the Park is in spring, summer and early autumn due to the favourable climate conditions. The web of paths, some of which very exacting namely for these who do not know the valley, should be walked on prudently and with the assistance of experienced guides. As a firs approach to the park, you may take a look at the visiting centres in the small towns close to the Park: San Bernardino Verbano (country ward of Rovegro), Intragna, Buttogno and Cicogna. The villages within the park boundaries non only offer walks among untouched nature, but also artistic and historic remainders of the past centuries. In the country ward of Bieno, in the municipality of San Bernardino Verbano, you can admire a beautiful and well-maintained Romanesque bell-tower, located next to the 18th century Parish Church. Always from Bieno you can walk to Ompio, that in the past used to be an alpine summer pasture, and on to the mount Faiè. In the country ward of In Oca, in the municipality of Cossogno, there is a 17th centaury oratory dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Madonna di Re) built as a bulwark against the 1630 and 1632 plague epidemics. Coming down a mule-track and after crossing a Roman bridge, you reach Rovegro. In the town of Intragna you can be interested in visitin the imposing "seven-altared" Parish Church and the Valgrande National Park visitingcentre that is dedicated to night animals. A pleasant and good-for-all walk leads to the Piancavallone refuge. Aurano too offers a wide variety of walks thanks to the mule-tracks that spread through the woods and the dense web of paths bringing to summer pastures. The climb to mount Zeda is definitely more difficult.