Pathways together in Piedmont

Scritto da Istrator Admin il 22-01-2024

Pathways together in Piedmont (Italy) – July 2023

written by Filippo Ceragioli, translated by Markus Kuhlmann and Franca Liuzzo (full version of the article published on Servas International Newsletter Bullettin n° 3)
Pathways together” or "Sentierinsieme" as it is called in Italy is a group gathering organized since many years by Servas members confining with the Alps (Italy, France, Switzerland as well as Germany) having the common scope of “hiking”. For roughly a week all participants not only have the opportunity to know each other, to discuss, to sing and dance together, as well as tasting local food and beverages, but have also the chance to explore the surrounding territories of the location hosting the event by hiking.
The 2023 event has been organized by the Servas members of the Piedmont region in Italy: local members therefore evaluated different alternative possibilities for hosting and organizing the event, and finally opted for the Oropa area. Oropa is one of the biggest sanctuaries in the Alps, a huge and splendid architectural complex (its so called “Sacro Monte Mariano” is part of the UNESCO World Heritage). A vast natural and protected area ("Riserva speciale") set up back in 2005 by government of the Piedmont Region surrounds it. Besides the beautiful scenery in which it is placed, Oropa has the advantage to have enough places to stay for such a big group of participants (100 people) as well as being well accessible also by public transport.
Another important aspect for choosing this location was to grant a good choice of different levels for hiking depending on the physical health and training status of all participants – from short to long distance with low or high levels of heights asking a good preparation, without confining into real alpinism.
The “Pathways Together” 2023 edition for the second weekend in July programmed several daily excursions of different levels, starting from and arriving at Oropa, and for the three following week-days five different trekking. Here too the main idea was to propose to all participants different levels of difficulty:
starting with a mini-trekking of only two days which lead from Oropa to the nearby sanctuary of “San Giovanni” and then returning back to Oropa by bus, up to “hard level” trekking going up to the Aosta Valley with two overnight stays in alp huts and positive height levels of up to 1,400 meters per day.
Such pathways went through some of the most suggestive places of the province of Biella, like the other historic sanctuaries of San Giovanni d'Andorno and of Graglia, the mysterious mountain village “borgo montano di Rosazza”, as well as the “frazione Bagneri” with its “Eco-Museo” – the so called "Trappa" di Sordevolo (which is a suggestive proto-industrial building dating back of the seventeenth century), and also the “Bocchetto Sessera”, a traditional place for stopping by and where cattle passes when going up/down on/from feeding grounds in the alps (transhumance).
Besides the hiking and trekking program there has also been a series of other complimentary activities like a small cultural and artistic deepening, an evening
dedicated to a training for a non-violent approach of conflicts, another evening was filled with singing together songs of different countries, a folk music concert with traditional dances as many other things shared together.
Organizing such a big and international event like this is quite complicated and there are many things to keep in mind and to respect: how to subscribe to the event, which kind of insurance is required, evaluation of price offers of rooms where to stay (not only the basic accommodation at the “Foresteria of the Sanctuary” but also the alp huts for the trekking), the “welcome” of the first day of arrival, the accountancy and book keeping of pre-paid sums and final payments, availability of menu and servings respecting different dietetic aspects, getting the internet-sites set up in different languages to inform
participants, getting feedbacks and answers to questions or special requirements …..
The requests to participate at the event “Sentierinsieme 2023” have been overwhelming from the beginning, but have been limited anyhow to a maximum of 120 people due to limited places available in the alp huts for the trekking. The requests received to participate did nearly double the number of available places, requiring to set up and control reluctantly a considerable “waiting-list”. The excursions held on the week-end have been guided by local Italian Servas members, who explored the itineraries before, while the trekking activities have been led by professional alpine guides, members of the Wool Travel Experience, a network of guides operating in the Biella Alps for a few years.
The weather has been very fine for the 2023 event edition: out of the five days dedicated to excursions and trekking only the last one was raining, and who knows the climate of the Oropa area can understand that this was no small help. In short, having set on the Oropa reserve area proved to be the right choice, as many messages of thanks and appreciation from participants later confirmed.
Pathways together 2024 will take place in Bavaria, Germany, from 19th to 25th July.
Full information will be available on in January 2024.


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