Strada Alta in the Leventina Valley
The Strada Alta (High Road) is one of the classics of Ticino's walks. Thanks to the rich heritage still present in the area it brings you back to interesting chapters in the history of the Leventina Valley. Marked by the hardships of a rural lifestyle in the mountains, numerous still are the old traditional wooden homes. Graceful little churches are scattered here and there giving the landscape a particularly pleasant look. Along the trail you will cross pristine woods with a lingering scent of resin and charming villages. The proposed itinerary is the first stop of a three-day trek.
Itinerary: Strada Alta in the Leventina Valley (see map)
The walk starts at Airolo's train station where the Leventina Tourist Office is located. The Office is equipped with a comprehensive flyer about the itinerary (details 1, 2, 3). After a short segment along the main course that leads to the Gotthard Pass, turn left in the vicinity of the cemetery to reach the Valle settlement. Following the old mule track of Canaria Valley you arrive in the Madrano hamlet with a view on the Stalvedro Gorge. The Strada Alta continues in the direction of Brugnasco and Altanca where the intermediate station of one of the world's steepest funiculars is located, the Ritom. In the vicinity of the funicular you can admire the beautiful church of the village built on a rock and rich with inside-decorations. The village also safeguards an old restored mill.
After crossing Altanca, you reach Cresta di Sopra, the highest point of the walk (1,419 m). From here the Strada Alta is downhill and crosses the beautiful hamlet of Ronco, leading to Deggio. By going slightly uphill you reach San Martino were an 11th century church stands, one of the oldest of the valley. Proceed all the way to Lurengo and enter the forest Bosco d’Öss that leads to Freggio. Following this final segment of the trail, located above the Gola del Piottino (Piottino Gorge), you leave the High Valley to enter Middle Leventina. Having passed the village's little church, go up in the direction of Osco, destination of the first stop. From Osco you can go to Faido by bus and from there you may take a train back.
After having walked this first segment you will certainly wish to return to the region to complete the other two segments: Osco-Anzonico, 3 hours and 30 minutes (particularly recommended) and Anzonico-Biasca, 4 hours and 45 minutes. There are a number of charming little hotels along the way where you may spend the night.