For some of the area’s most beautiful mountains and valleys, make for the south, down to the Gran Paradiso National Park (w pngp.it; from Piemonte access is through the village of Ceresole Reale) – Italy’s first national park, spread around the valleys at the foot of 4061m-high Monte Gran Paradiso. The park’s three valleys – Cogne, Valsavarenche and Val di Rhêmes – are popular, but tourist development has been cautious and well organized. The hotels are good and the campsites not too vast. There are a few mountain rifugi and bivacchi (unoccupied shelters) between which run well-marked footpaths. Though it’s primarily a summer resort for walkers, the cross-country skiing is also good, and every winter a 45km Gran Paradiso trek is organized at Cogne (contact the tourist office in Cogne for details). The starting-point for the ascent of Gran Paradiso itself is Pont in the Valsavarenche, while Cogne gives access to the Alta Via 2, a long, high-level mountain trail.

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