Val Grande is the largest wilderness in Europe (14,598 hm), an unspoilt island of mountains and valleys with fascinating and mysterious places among canyons, precipices, dense woods and breathtaking views. It starts from the edge of the basin of Lake Maggiore and extends until it meets the southern sector of the Lepontine Alps.
Its wild nature arose out of the abandonment, between the 1950's and the 1960's, of the agricultural and pastoral activities that for centuries had accompanied the presence of man in the area. The landscape and the forests, as well as the botanical heritage are rich and varied, ranging from the Valgrande and Pogallo Rivers, which give rise to the San Bernardino Torrent, right up to the highest peak, Mount Togano (2,301 m. a.s.l.).
At lower altitudes one finds woods of mixed hardwood trees (mainly chestnut). Yews grow in the more humid areas and if one climbs further up one finds black and white alder, fir trees, willows, white poplar, Turkey oak, ash and numerous beech trees. Among the many flowers, the Alpine columbine, the Alpine tulip and the white rhododendron are worth mentioning, owing to their rarity and beauty. Included among the fauna one finds such animals as the chamois, the deer, the roe deer, the fox, the badger, the weasel, the marten, the eagle and the eagle-owl.
However, this vast region is not only extraordinary because of its natural heritage. Many sites, linked by a thick network of trails, preserve unique traces of man's thousand year-old presence: rock incisions, abandoned shelters, passages dug into the rocks to allow the livestock to pass, terraces, votive chapels, handmade items created to cut and transport timber, charcoal clearings, military fortifications ("The Cadorna Line") and memorial tablets. In addition to the above, in the southern part of the Valley there are the Candoglio Quarries, which have supplied the marble for the Cathedral of Milan for over six centuries.
The routes are numerous and varied: some are accessible by all and others are only suitable for expert mountaineers: Malesco, Rovegro di San Bernardino Verbano, Intragna, Premosello Chiovenda.