Italy's Alta Via 1, a 180km trail through the Italian Alps following the northern flank of the Aosta Valley, boasts magnificent views of the Alpine giants: Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, the Grand Combin and Monte Rosa. Indeed, it is sometimes known as the Giants' Trail and can be combined with a sister-route, the Alta Via 2 (covered in a separate Cicerone guide), which runs along the southern flank of the valley, to form the Tor des Geants. Stretching from Donnas to Courmayeur, the Alta Via 1 offers fantastic alpine walking, with welcoming refuges and small hotels providing overnight accommodation (and great food) along the way.
The guide presents the route in two sections, for the advantage of those who can't spare the full fortnight-plus needed to walk the entire AV1. The trail is described in 16 stages, with alternative stages covering some popular variants, including an optional detour to visit the famed monastery at the Great St Bernard Pass. Each stage includes clear route description and mapping, plus notes on local points of interest and accommodation options. An alternative itinerary, list of useful contacts, kitlist and glossary can be found in the appendices.
The AV1 crosses cols of nearly 3000m as it traverses the side-valleys of the main Aosta Valley. Suited to those with some of experience of alpine trekking, the walking is demanding but without technical difficulty. And the rewards are many: quieter huts, breathtaking vistas and a chance to immerse yourself in fabulous mountain landscapes overlooked by soaring, snow-clad giants.