The part of the Western Alps that lies within the territory of Piedmont features some of the best mountain landscapes in Europe, with majestic peaks, forests and woods, streams and waterfalls, glaciers, lakes and high altitude prairies. More over, there are two vast wild areas here, the Gran Paradiso National Park - the oldest and largest protected area of Italy - and the Maritime Alps Nature Park. Both can offer a fulfilling outdoor experience: wonderful pristine natural sceneries, unexpected encounters with wildlife species, enchanted forests of conifers, endless extensions of prairies dotted with wildflowers. In short, a paradise for every landscape photographer.
Col del Nivolet, a high altitude pass with wonderful prairies dotted with wild flowers, lies at the foot of the Gran Paradiso massif
Gran Paradiso National Park
The Piedmontese portion of the Gran Paradiso National Park (Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso) with the high altitude pass of Colle del Nivolet (2613 mts. asl), the nearby plateaus and prairies, and the lakes area with dozens of wonderful glacial lakes.
Lakes of Avigliana
the Avigliana Lakes Nature Reserve, (Riserva Naturale dei Laghi di Avigliana) a small protected area at the feet of the mountains, with two beatiful lakes and many avian species such as mallards, swans and coots.
Sacra di San Michele
The Sacra di San Michele, sometimes known as Saint Michael's Abbey, a 10th-12th century religious complex situated on the south side of the Susa Valley overlooking the small town of Avigliana and Chiusa di San Michele.
A small, narrow valley in the Cottian Alps at the border between Italy and France. It's certainly one of the best alpine environment I know. Its incredibly rich and varied vegetation that includes most of the species you can find elsewhere in the whole Alps range, such as larches, maples, aspens, scots and swiss stone pines among many others, makes the valley the ideal location for some serious fall colours photography.
A small valley in the Western Alps in Piedmont, Italy, is an enchanted place where time seems to have stopped. Its old villages, cobblestones trails and bridges, and the many, incredibly beautiful waterfalls and streams make this place look like as it was taken out from the Lord of the Rings novel.
Po River sources
Pian della Regina and Pian del Re, two high altitude plateaus at the feet of the imposing pyramid of the Monviso, one of the best-looking mountains of the whole Alps range. This area has loads of wildflowers and wildlife, and it is where the Po, the longest river of Italy, has its sources.
Maritime Alps Nature Park
It is the largest park in Piedmont and one of the largest in Italy. Several summits over 3,000 m high, lakes, grasslands, small glaciers, the abundance of Alpine fauna (chamois, ibexes, wolves, red foxes, marmots) and of botanical species give birth to a unique environmental heritage. Twinned with the French Mercantour National Park since 1987, it preserves an alpine area of 100,000 hectares.
Example of a typical day in the field
Sunrise and early morning
We will wake up 40 minutes before dawn and drive to the Avigliana Lakes Natural Reserve, where we will shoot sunrise at the smaller of the two lakes.
We will scout this area for about 1 hour photographing intimate scenes such as leaves in the water and we will also try to photograph the wild ducks (mallards) and coots that live at the lake.
Afternoon and sunset
We will grab a quick lunch at some bar in the Susa Valley and then we will drive all the way up to Bardonecchia and the entrance of Valle Stretta.
We will scout the valley photographing its prairies and woods, the huge vertical rock walls of Parete dei Militi, and its incredibly rich and varied vegetation We will create all sort of imagery during the afternoon, from macro and close ups up to scenic vistas and panoramas.
Sunrise and early morning
with a 20 minutes transfer by car we will reach the top of Mount Pirchiriano, where the Sacra di San Michele Abbey lies.
We will spend the rest of the morning photographing this wonderful medieval complex from many spots along the Sentiero dei Franchi, an ancient trail that dates back to the early centuries of the Middle Age and which once was the main road to France.
We will also look for small, intimate scenes such as leaves in the wood floor.
We will also scout the area looking for small subject suitable for beautiful close ups, and we will photograph the amazing jagged peaks of Mount Thabor/Grand Seru massif bathed in the warm light of sunset. We will keep shooting for about 30-45 minutes after sunset.
We will get back to the B&B at around 11:30/12:00 pm. We'll have dinner at some restaurant along the road.