For some of the area’s most beautiful mountains and valleys, head to the Gran Paradiso National Park (pngp.it) – 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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