Italy's Grande Traversata delle Alpi
GTA: Through the Italian Alps from the Swiss border to the Mediterranean
By David Jordan
A guidebook to the 809km Grande Traversata delle Alpi trek through the western Italian Alps traversing the Lepontine, Pennine, Graian, Cottian and Maritime Alps to finish at Ventimiglia. The guide splits the route into 3 sections with 55 day stages. A good level of fitness is required to tackle the route as it contains nearly 60,000m of ascent.
SeasonsThe route is best walked from early June, when any snow on high passes is diminishing, until late-September, when declining weather, and limited accommodation becomes a factor.
CentresAccess local transport to key mountain trailheads from Airolo (Switzerland), Domodossola, Ivrea, Susa, Pinerolo, Saluzzo, Cuneo or Ventimiglia.
DifficultyThis route with strenuous daily ascent/descents is best for fit and experienced alpine trekkers. No special equipment is needed beyond good footwear and appropriate clothing, although trekking poles are recommended. It is a mountain route, however, with high passes daily so allow extra time initially for legs and lungs to acclimatise and strengthen.
Must SeeHigh mountain passes, turquoise glacial lakes, summer meadows and alpine forest would be enough, even without the Walser culture, the Occitan valleys, Nebbiolo vineyards and the slow food movement. Ancient, cobbled ‘mulattiera’, pilgrim routes and fortifications add to the sense of history and the stories of the people that make this route so special.
A guidebook to Italy's Grande Traversata delle Alpi (GTA) trek through the western Italian Alps. The 809km (503 mile) route is presented in 55 stages with each stage ranging from 7-26km (4-16 miles). Beginning at the Nufenen pass at the Swiss border the route traverses the Lepontine, Pennine, Graian, Cottian and Maritime Alps to finish at Ventimiglia on the Mediterranean coast. With nearly 60,000m of ascent this route is suitable for fit and experienced alpine trekkers.
This guidebook contains route description and 1:100,000 mapping for each stage as well as information on the region's history, culture and wildlife. Accommodation, facilities and public transport information is also given to help with trek planning.
Italy's western Alps is an area of high mountain passes, sparkling lakes, clean air, and alpine meadows rich in wildflowers. With a network of paths that enabled travel long before the motor car, the region is ideally suited to exploring on foot. From Switzerland to the Mediterranean, the GTA enables the visitor to travel the old ways through the mountains, hearing the stories, sampling the regional specialties in food and wine, and experiencing the famously warm welcome of the Italian people.
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David's earliest memories of walking adventures were family holidays, let loose among trees and fields with a Kodak 'instamatic' camera and notebook. Many years on, little has changed (except perhaps the size of the boots). David has hiked and camped extensively across much of the higher ground of the UK, Europe and Norway, as well as the US. A first taste of long-distance walking started with a circuit of the Tour du Mont Blanc in 1992 and led through sections of the Appalachian Trail to a full thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2016. Returning to the Alps David spent four years researching and exploring the Grande Traversata Delle Alpe. In 2023 David hiked the PCT for a second time and became one of fewer than 200 people ever to thru-hike the trail more than once.View author profile
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