Verbania Fondotoce (VB), Italy
How to get there:
By train: Verbania Fondotoce Station, Ferrovie dello Stato. Timetables: http://www.trenitalia.com/; www.ffs.ch
By car: A26 motorway to Gravellona Toce, exit for Verbania. At the first junction in direction Verbania follow for Mergozzo.
The Montorfano is the “lonely” mountain emerging from the flood plain of the Toce, embraced by the Lake of Mergozzo, Lake Maggiore and the Toce River. It appears as a single block of granite, marked by centuries of mining activities. The Ecomuseum is dedicated to the white granite which is developed in a wide territory in the town of Mergozzo, representing a huge open-air laboratory.
The itinerary develops itself along the eastern face of the Montorfano, along the “Sentiero Azzurro”, of the village of Mergozzo, leaving from the station, to the village of Montorfano, then back to Verbania Fondotoce station.
From Mergozzo station go for via Sempione, turn right and cross to go on along via Strada Vecchia, up to the center of the village, where is the Romanesque Church of Santa Marta, the archaeological civic museum, the parish church of the Beata Vergine Assunta with its chapels of the Via Crucis and many buildings where you can well see the use of the granite from Montorfano. You then go down to the lake, where the big elm has been the gathering center of the comunity for centuries. Go slightly up via Borzoni and left via Nostrani. At the junction turn left in via Montorfano, going out of the village. Follow the signs for Sentiero Azzurro, continuing first on the asphalted road then on a track cutting uphill the north face of Montorfano. Once you reached the road, go up to the village of Montorfano, with its old Romanesque Church of San Giovanni. Continuing on a short stretch in direction of the top of Montorfano you will see many signs of the old granite quarries. From the village is a short track leading to the Belvedere from where you will have a breathtaking view on the Lake Maggiore, the Borromean Gulf and the mouth of River Toce.
The way back is made along the road connecting to Fondotoce, allowing you to go down quickly to Verbania Pallanza station. Right before arriving at the station you will pass near the only granite quarry still working, the so called Cava Donna.
For information and specialized educational visits for schools contact:
Civico Museo Archeologico di Mergozzo ed Ecomuseo del granito di Montorfano (http://www.ecomuseogranitomontorfano.it). Many didactic itineraries proposed for every type of school on the website.
Where to eat:
Trattoria “Belvedere” ,Fraz. Montorfano 28802 Mergozzo
Tel. +39 0323 80134