The north-western region of Piedmont is located at the foot of the Alps (hence the name ad pedem montium, meaning “at the foot of the mountains”), making it a great destination for those who love hiking and the outdoors.
One of Piedmont’s most famous mountains is the Monviso, which, at 3,841 m (12,602 ft), is the highest peak in the Cottian Alps, a mountain range in the southwestern part of the Alps.
Known as Il Re di Pietra (The Stone King), Monviso is famous for its pyramid-like shape which can be seen from large distances, including, on clear days, from the spires of the Milan Cathedral!
It is on the northern slopes of the Monviso that the 652-km-long (405 mi) Po river originates. The headwaters of the Po are a spring seeping from a stony hillside at Pian del Re (2,020 m), at the head of the Val Po. (The Po ends its journey into the Adriatic Sea near Venice.)
Pian del Re is also the starting point of the so-called Giro del Monviso, a multi-day circular trek which can take from two to six days to complete, and uses mountain huts as accommodations for the night.
A magnificent spot on the trek is Lake Fiorenza, located at a height of 2,133 meters high, dominated by the imposing bulk of the Monviso.
If you do not want to tackle a multi-day trek, you can opt for a two-and-a-half-hour hike departing from Pian del Re, to arrive right in front of the Monviso. Stop at Rifugio Sella, right below the eastern wall of the mountain, on the Lago di Viso, an international meeting point where German climbers, French families, Italian hikers all converge to enjoy the magnificent nature show.