Val Mastallone is one of the three main Valsesian valleys (the others being Valgrande and Valsermenza). It was named after the winding torrent that twists and turns for over 25km until it spills into the Sesia river at Varallo where it splits the town into two, the old Varallo and the new.
This particular valley presents varied features which make its hydrogeological characteristics as well as its early habitations exceptionally interesting.
Arid basins, almost devoid of vegetation, alternate with deep gorges running through steep bluffs and green pastures provide for exceptional picturesque views. From Varallo, it extends toward Fobello to Lago di Baranca from which the Mastallone originates. The variety of scenery in this spectacular valley is unlike any other in all the Valsesia area. A little above Varallo, starting from the “orrido della Gula” (the gorge at Gula, marked for its evocative stone bridge that stands over a 35-metre drop. For centuries, writers and poets have exalted its oddly chilling beauty with mysterious legends of a damned place, slashed by the enraged devil on a tempestuous night for having lost a soul…) to that of Valbella, from the narrows of Voj (another hamlet in the area) to the wild nature and rugged beauty of the elevations…
Little white churches surrounded by lush vegetation, enchanting silent natural basins that alternate with green pastures, sheer towers and daring bridges that have forever fascinated the intrigued tourist.
The area is favoured for its dense network of hiking trails that promise surprise and pleasures that only the mountains can give with access also to the fantastic forests that surround the valley leaving the visitor to marvel at the encompassing suggestive scenery. Among the surprises on a trail that never fails to disappoint is a visit to the Cappelletta della Madonnina Bianca (“Little Chapel of the White Madonna”) from which point Monte Capio can be seen from above Val Sabbiola. From the earliest hours at dawn, these higher grounds are illuminated by the sun’s rays; first on Sabbia then Cravagliana, perhaps the oldest town in the valley, on the left bank of the Mastallone in a confined and austere landscape that is slowly abandoned for little hamlets perched like eagle nests as we ascend the mountainside until reaching Ponte delle Due Acque (“Two-Water Bridge”), where the Valley divides into two directions: Fobello following the Mastallone, and Rimella following the Landwasser torrent.
Fobello, 18km from Varallo, occupies the valley floor which opens like a natural amphitheatre within which the lush green hues soften. The town boasts of villas found in undreamt-of places belonging especially to well-known industrialists and delightful hamlets throughout the mountain hillsides.
After Fobello lies Cervatto; almost hidden and so splendidly distributed along the mountain pass, it deserves to be called one of the most beautiful places in Val Mastallone.
Following the flow of the Landwasser torrent, past age-old hamlets, leading to the terracing at Rimella, an area also defined as a linguistic island for the lasting use of a Walser dialect, the visitor is greeted by the enchanting scenery. The unobstructed view of the entire area of Rimella opens toward the valley floor and saves a pageant of sensations to cherish.