After several days of drizzle, the sun finally returned and we did not miss the chance to get out of town for a little excursion. Our destinations were the hill of Morissolo (1311m), Mount Morissolino (1410m) and Mount Spalavera (1534m) in Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, the northernmost province in the Italian region of Piedmont. Aah!

Around nine o’clock Sunday morning (16 October), our group of nearly 20 gathered at a small cafeteria in Fondotoce for breakfast and a quick hello. I was still a bundle of nerves recalling my first trekking experience three weeks earlier, secretly praying the trail would be flatter this time.

Lucky me, it was…

After 2 hours of driving from Milan, we parked our cars outside Istituto Auxologico hospital in Piancavallo and start walking uphill. The early trail seemed fairly easy and did not require much effort. From time to time we bumped into bike riders, elderly couples, even cats on the leash.

We soon reached this scenic part of the track along nearly vertical mountains against the background of clear blue sky and calm Lake Maggiore. The view was so stunning I stopped every few meters to snap a pic or two.

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Francesco, the group leader, was so kind to feed me with some interesting background information on the route. Italian soldiers used to march along this road during the World War I to reach an important complex of fortification system known as Cadorna Line.

We followed the signs to walk through the woods, and soon made it to Morissolo hill. But the top of Mount Morissolino, just 10-15 mins walk away, was even more breath-taking. Our group stopped for a while to enjoy the extensive panoramic view of Lake Maggiore and town Cannero Riviera.

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Then the tricky part quickly followed. To move forward we had to make our way down a steep trail with stone steps. It was indeed not for those who suffer from acrophobia.


I gotta admit – walking down this rocky track was challenging but also the most exciting part of this excursion. Look! The wonderful lake and mountain view was very pleasing to the eye!


I took another shot upward to just capture this rough, steep, rocky and gorge trail. Yet a beautiful one! After all it was short and not as tricky as it looked.

We continued to walk for a short while on flat grounds before reaching the gate into a small tunnel that was also part of Cardona Line and very active during the World War I. Some of my companions brought along a trekking torch but it turned out unnecessary, since this tunnel was already lit up with electric light every 10o meters. “This is way more civilized. I thought it’d be completely dark.”, one of them told me.


What was most interesting about this excursion was that we got exposure to both history lessons and nature, and we got to see different things within a few hours of hiking: the old woods, the damp cave, the calm and blue lake, the tiny villages and the grass pasture.We reached Mount Spalavera after three hours (including stops), still overwhelmed by the surroundings of endless mountain range and lakes. We could also see the Monte Rosa (part of the Alps) from afar, hoping to conquer some peaks one day. But that’s the story of the future and let’s just call it a day!

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