Medieval Road from Cossogno to Cicogna
How to get
This ancient mule track dates back to the Middle Ages but still today links Cossogno with the picturesque little hill village of Cicogna; it is also one of the roads giving access to the Val Grande National Park. Once an important artery for transporting food and firewood to Verbania, the road is now a prime hiking trail with many points of interest.
Starting from Cossogno, which has a pretty “Roman” bridge, follow the marked trail which leads into a thick wood of deciduous trees, following the San Bernardino river, and passes some pretty wayside shrines before coming to mountain pastures with crumbling stone houses, which still hold the atmosphere of a lost world. When you get to the village of Cicogna, which is actually inside the Val Grande National Park, an easy walk of less than an hour will take you to Alpe Pra: worth the effort for its exceptional view of Lake Maggiore and the mountains. Here, next to the path leading to the Casa dell’Alpino, look for an almost triangular boulder with its peak pointing downhill; on its surface are about thirty cup-marks*, some joined by channels.
The path (a stretch of nature trail with picnic areas) is easy and well marked as far as Munchio. Only experienced hikers should continue to Cicogna after this point.
The Cup-marks. Various interpretations have been attributed to these engravings. The first is a sacred interpretation which sees these small, sometimes shallow, sometimes deep hollows as an indication of the place where the blood of sacrificial victims flowed, or where incense, ointment or wax was deposited, perhaps to be used as lamps during nocturnal ceremonies. Another theory hypothesises that the carved boulders were a useful way of signalling or communicating across the distances between the various hill-tops. Yet another theory interprets them as a religious symbol linked to the cult of the dead, perhaps as a form of devotion, to collect water and food for the deceased. But the interpretations of their significance are many and various: depictions of the constellations, signs of property, numerical symbols, primordial topographical representations, effigies of the female sex, crude baptismal fonts.