When you walk around the village of Alagna you get a little confused. The big wooden houses mix up with decorated palaces from the 19th century and compose a narrow puzzle of streets and squares in all directions.
There is not one center, if you don’t count the Cafè delle Guide in front of the monumental main church and cemetery. Here there is no place for big touristic resorts and hotels, but amazingly enough many of the houses are transformed in residences or smaller B&B. At the end there are even a couple of places where you can have a sauna or a short swim if you need it.
The only one 4 star hotel in Alagna, the Cristallo, has a swimming pool, but someone had spilled some soap in it and it is not possible to use the pool at this moment…no one cares. You do not come to this place if you seek luxury and relax in the mountains.
Alagna is still a real mountain village and disorder rules.
And nevertheless, people here are so service minded and tourism oriented, even though in a sort of rough way, I think they should get a price!
The nature around the village is extremely tough, with narrow valleys and steep mountain slopes you can see between the houses’ roofs, little sun and danger of avalanches on many sides. There is one cable car going up from 1200 m in the village to 3000 m at the highest pass, between Valsesia and Lys Valley of Gressoney, Passo dei Salati. There is one pist sliding down under the cable car, and there is lots of extreme offpist to try.
People in Alagna are all mountaineers, probably not always climbing mountains or skiing their lives’ best run, but they are not contaminated by the trends and the musts of the modern civilization. The visitors from outside seem to drop all expectations for fashionable looks, and demanding self consciousness. The main square of the Café delle Guide is setting the rules with a mixture of young and old, babies dancing with old timed guides from all over the world, at the sound of no trendy music and with a monitor on the wall stating “guardia costiera” coast guard on it. Small funny knitted hats on the heads of everyone.
But back to these buildings interwoven to each other in an incredible disorder: the most beautiful part of the village is outside, in an ancient place where the first inhabitants lived already in the 13th century. Here, in Piedemonte, has Sergio Gabbio built his beautifully genuine hotel in the house that hosted his family for centuries. The Montagna di Luce is so typical of the spirit of Alagna that it would be prohibited to be lodging anywhere else as a visitor to this place.
Sergio is the legendary mountain guide who created the concept of freeriding in Alagna at the beginning of the Nineties, when no one knew about it, but a few enthusiasts. He has a long list of expeditions all over the world in his curriculum, but he is not so young any longer to continue to take clients to his “office” on top of the mountains he loves every day anymore. Therefore the hotel. A center, a place to welcome all the people who really wish to understand the spirit of the mountain and of Alagna. sit down with him in the evening to listen to his stories!
This old Walser house is like it has always been, a wooden intricate but functional mixture of stairs, rooms, benches and stocks, but with the comfort of a modern hotel. The stone wall of the restaurant contains the finest Piemonte wines and food. Gattinara is the Nebbiolo grape of the region of Valsesia, where Alagna is build, and risotto is the natural choice of a landscape where the fields down in the valleys are cultivated for the rice production of most of the Italian peninsula.
In the morning you will be waked up by the dogs and the cock of the nearby farmer, or by the clocks of the village church, at the side of Montagna di Luce!