Explore the best parts of the famous long-distance hiking trail through the Italian Alps.
The Grande Traversate delle Alpi (GTA) is a high-altitude hiking adventure through an endless sea of Italian peaks. Tracing the arc formed by the western Alps from the rock spires of the Pennines, the trail plunges down into quiet, cut-off valleys, then climbs up across the rocky Grainan and the Cottian Alps. In the last section of the 55-day-long journey, you’ll find yourself walking along the French/Italian border in the Maritime and Ligurian Alps, where the sharp lines of the mountains see year-round sunny, blue skies.
The GTA deliberately avoids touristy towns. Instead, it connects a string of very remote, timeless alpine villages. This, of course, has a double benefit in that it gives hikers insight into seemingly untouched rural mountain life, and it also brings huge economic benefits to the isolated, depopulating communities. The “Posto Tappa” (stopovers) are generally traditional, simple lodgings offering hearty and delicious piedmont dishes and very warm welcomes to the weary mountain hiker.
Another special quality of the GTA is that no new infrastructure was built for its creation. Tracing over pre-existing mule trails and military roads, the GTA hiker gets to see the mountains from the same perspective as the original trudgers, the farmer and the Alpini soldier. As well as the historical romanticism of that fact, it is also a pioneering move in terms of eco-tourism, as modern wanderers learn to enjoy the landscape without altering it at all.
The GTA trail is around 1000km total split into 55 day-long segments. The pattern of each day typically takes hikers from one village nestled in a valley, up over a pass, and down to a neighbouring mountain village, making the journey as rolling and lilting as the Italian language. This guidebook contains the five most popular and visually-spectacular day hikes of the GTA.