A long day lay ahead of us. Our long descent back into civilization was additionally slowed down because we just couldn’t walk past all these bushes full of juicy, ripe blackberries before we had picked a good couple of kilos of them. A rare treat before autumn!! Eventually, we hitchhiked to the campsite at Lake Mergozzo because we figured it might be nice to spend the last night of our trip in our tent at a lake.
We were wrong. It was horrible. Truly horrible.
The campsite (Continental Camping Village), not the lake. 9 days of beautiful, remote hikes were behind us and suddenly, we stand in line wedged in between an arguing, Spanish family and a fat, sweating Irish couple. There were a few hundred available pitches on the campsite, plus some cabins. We already questioned our brilliant plan then and there but it was when the lady told us that they charge more than 40€ for a simple pitch that we turned around abruptly and put some ground between us and this hell swarming with pseudo-outdoor-people. Never again.
It was the right decision: We then ended up in a B&B in the sleepy village Bracchio and were pampered by the most perfect host we have ever met. Seriously, if you want to experience warm and honest hospitality in perfection, go there (Le Oche di Bracchio). I mean, yes, we basically just came back from the wilderness and every spoon of fresh yoghurt made us drool but this lady seriously treated us like we were her long-lost children. The food was local, self-made and delicious, our room super cosy and clean and the price-performance ratio more than fair. Funny anecdote: When we were short by 5€ the next morning, she only trilled “Nessun problema!” and then insisted on packing us some lunch. For free. You can imagine that we wrote her the best reviews on every travel platform there is!
We could have stayed forever, growing fat and happy and doing some occasional hikes in the area. But it was time for us to get back to Germany… What remained of this trip are some mozzie bites, sunburnt noses and – most importantly – truly great memories: Our trek was brimming with remote wilderness and thrilling adventure! And even though the bad weather slowed us down in the beginning, we managed to see a good part of Val Grande.
What’s left to say….
“Is Val Grande the right destination for me?”
Yes, if you love hiking and the outdoors. Nope, if you are not content to either sleep in a tent or in the basic refugees. Yes, if you are fit enough to carry a few days’ worth of food and are able with compass and map. Nope, if you are afraid of abandoned ruins and their eight-legged inhabitants aka spiders. Was it the right destination for us? Yes, absolutely. And don’t worry, there are treks for pretty much every level of age, fitness and experience.
“I want to go! Where can I find more information?”
Unfortunately, the park management’s homepage is not very helpful unless you speak Italian. We do, however, recommend Tim’s Blog: http://valgrande.piemont-trekking.com We never met him personally but used his blog for our research beforehand. He keeps it updated with recent information about the condition of the treks and huts, and we soon found out that he is also the angel who equips the shelters with most of their crockery. Tim is a proper expert about the whole Piermont region and will even publish a book about the area soon. Warmly recommend, that guy 😊 As is Val Grande, this beautiful wild National Park…