Vallone di Elva

Vallone di Elva

Have you ever thought how much difference a road can make to a mountain village?

Elva has always suffered from its isolation. It remained inaccessible until beyond the mid-1800s. Connections to the valley passed exclusively through Stoppo, via the San Giovanni and Bettone passes: a very long and dangerous connection.

As early as 1763, the mayor appealed to the intendenza of Cuneo, pointing out the difficulties faced by the Elvesi. In 1837, help was requested from Prince Victor Emmanuel, who in 1838 resolved to build a road along the Vallone di Elva.

In 1883, a first path was built through the comba to the border with Stroppo. But it was not until 1893 that the path reached the valley floor.

In order to transform the path into a mule track, a contingent of troops was requested from the military authority and in 1895 the military granted the request.

After six months of work they only managed to improve the path.

A project for a carriage road was presented in 1914, but it was not until 1934 that the first loaded mule passed through. Finally in 1959, the work was completed and the people of Elvesi had a carriage road across the comba: isolation ended. In 1970, Marco Dao in his book “Elva, eroica, incredibile, storia di una strada” (Elva, heroic, incredible, history of a road) wrote: ‘a story of courageous men, who, defying natural adversities, and tenacious opposition from other men, succeeded in creating a road, which everyone speaks well of today, but which was once seen as madness’.

A happy ending? Not really: unfortunately, in 2014 a landslide compromised the viability of the Vallone road, which has since been closed to traffic by order of the Province of Cuneo. The municipality, however, is not giving up and wants this spectacular road to be practicable again soon. From Elva, you can take a look or walk a scenic stretch.

  • How to visit the site

    The road is currently closed to traffic, and only the first downhill stretch from Borgata Serre to Borgata Ischia is passable on foot.

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