A Journey Through Our Pilot Areas: Ala di Stura and Balme

Apr 2, 2024

Join us on an exclusive journey with journalist Maurizio De Matteis from Dislivelli magazine as he captures footage and shares his firsthand experiences for the upcoming Beyond Snow video narrative. Travel with Maurizio as he ventures into the heart of our pilot areas, like Ala di Stura and Balme, uncovering the essence of alpine life amidst winter’s embrace. Witness the resilience of local communities, the breathtaking landscapes blanketed in snow, all brought to life through Maurizio’s captivating storytelling and discover the beauty and resilience of our pilot areas through his lens.

On Sunday, February 25th, we embarked on a mission to the Valli di Lanzo to film in the pilot areas of Ala di Stura and Balme.
Driving up the central valley, we arrived at the verdant village of Ala, situated at 1000 meters above sea level and home to 450 inhabitants. Winter had not yet arrived this year: the streets were quiet, with only a few people walking along the path towards the upper part of the valley, in the direction of Balme. We were welcomed by Giorgia Garberoglio, a journalist and owner of two restaurants. In Ala, the historic ski lifts are closed, and without snow, there are few visitors. Hotels, restaurants, and businesses are empty, struggling to survive the winter months. The local community focuses on promoting typical products, such as Toma di Lanzo cheese, polenta made from locally-sourced flour, cured meats, and Balme beer. They also promote the hiking trails leading to the upper part of the valley, which are still attracting (albeit too few) hikers and cyclists. In a mountain that is transforming and sees its future in high-quality hiking trails and family-friendly hospitality, the connection with Balme, in the upper valley, becomes strategic.

Leaving Ala, we continued our ascent. The valley narrowed, and the snow finally appeared. In Mondrone, a hamlet of Ala located at 1300 meters, just below Balme, the road and the mountain slopes were covered in white, and the magic of winter had arrived. In Balme, we were welcomed by Umbro Tessiore, owner of the sports shop, head of the mountain rescue team, and former mayor of the municipality. In Balme, snow still falls consistently, and the road connecting Balme to Pina Della Mussa attracts thousands of people in winter: snowshoers, walkers, ski mountaineers, cross-country skiers, dog walkers, and children with sledges. In short, a large clientele that enjoys the snow when it is present, while on the slopes, climbers scale the exposed walls in t-shirts, and mountaineers seek out icefalls on the north face. Balme is a small village, well-known in all seasons, which even in winter manages to attract visitors, but it suffers from a lack of accommodation, which, although of high quality, is not enough to meet demand. It benefits greatly from the connection with Ala, a two-hour walk away via a path suitable for everyone, or a fifteen-minute drive. With its family-friendly clientele, morning yoga sessions, nature walks, and other activities, Ala also welcomes winter sports enthusiasts during the day, who explore the upper part of the valley and stay in the accommodation available in the two neighbouring municipalities.

As we descended towards the valley floor, the first flakes of snow began to fall from the sky, finally heralding the arrival of a real snowfall that would bring the long-awaited white blanket to the mid-mountain villages for the entire winter. And the end of winter became magical.