The National Park of the Maritime Alps was created in 1995 from the union of Parco naturale dell’Argentera (established in 1980) and the Riserva del Bosco e dei Laghi di Palanfré (established in 1979).
This protected area covers nearly 28,000 hectares including three valleys (Gesso, Stura, Vermenagna) and four towns (Aisone, Entracque, Valdieri, Vernante).
The Alpi Marittime – the southernmost section of the Alpine chain – divide the southern area of Piedmont from the French coasts of Nizza and Mentone. On this side there is the Mercantour National Park, with its Valley of Wonders, a site with thousands of rock engravings.
There are more than 80 small lakes and streams situated in the Parco delle Alpi Marittime. The Valcuca and the Maledia are very small and isolated, while the Sella, Portette, di Valscura e della Valletta are bigger and much deeper. Most of the lakes have glacial origins.
But the glaciers nowadays are very rare as they located in the southern part of the Alps, at only 50 km away from the French Riviera.
The Park is the ideal place for setting out excursions. You can choose one of the many “rifugi” (mountain huts or lodges) built at 2000m or along the routes you can find several bivouacs belonging to C.A.I. (Italian Alpine club), small huts that can sleep up to 9 people; they are very small inside and cannot be booked in advance.
The bright red hut in the photo is named after Jacques Guiglia and is situated at 2437m, near the Fremamorta lakes. Even if it is not a happy name (the word “morta” in Italian means “death”) it is a lovely place, not sad at all: 5 lakes in a row set at the back of the so named Vallone della Valletta.
The landscape is wonderful, there is a view on the French mountains from every corner of the protected area. For example from the Colle di Fenestrelle at east of Fremamorta Lakes you can enjoy a stunning view of the Argentera mountain.
The reserve is populated during the whole year by deers and wild goats that you can easily see in the spring and summer.
For details concerning itineraries and hiking routes, please visit Parcoalpimarittime.it.