Fontainemore - Sanctuary of Oropa


  • Best period:
    June - September
  • Departure:
    Capoluogo (785 m)
  • Arrival:
    Colle della Barma d’Oropa (2271 m)
  • Difference in level:
    1.432 m
  • length:
    8.939 m
  • Ascent:
  • Trail sign:
    2 - AV1
  • GPS tracks:
    GPX , KML

There are many pedestrian connections between Oropa and the nearby Valle d'Aosta, but one in particular stands out for the particular religious significance of the pilgrimage which takes place there every five years: it is the route which from Fontainemore, in the middle Lys valley, reaches Oropa through the suggestive and “lunar” Balma mountain pass. This grandiose and choral demonstration of faith has been attested for at least 4 centuries and it is impressive to think that the faithful, to carry it out, undertake, praying and singing, more than 11 hours of night walking with considerable discomfort and fatigue.
The magnetic and profound mysticism that emanates from the hieratic statue of the Black Madonna is, together with the sacred rock of Sant'Eusebio, the beating heart of the most important and venerated Marian sanctuary in the Alps: the sanctuary of the Sacro Monte d'Oropa. Tradition places its origin in the 4th century AD. by the first bishop of Vercelli, Sant'Eusebio. The sacredness of this place, however, has its roots even further back in the centuries: the voluminous erratic boulder (called the Roc) now incorporated into the building of worship, in fact, since pre-protohistoric times has played a significant thaumaturgical role being considered a source of health and fertility. An ancestral lithic cult, therefore, which was then Christianised and consolidated around the figure of the Mother of God, thus becoming a sanctuary which, since the 13th century, has been a destination for intense pilgrimages.
Procession every 5 years at the end of July

Description of the route

Leave Pillaz, in the municipality of Fontainemore, following signpost 2, then take the inter-estate road which leads through the woods to the Vargno valley.
The road continues in a straight line along the wooded slope alongside the Pacoulla stream. After a few bends, the path stops climbing and you cross a bridge to reach the more gentle meadowland below the Mattà pasture (1677 m). This is the start of a beautiful trail, which is paved in sections and runs into the Mont Mars Nature Reserve. Enjoy the beautiful view of Lac Vargno as you go up and, after an ice step featuring stone ground, you come to a wonderful basin of lakes including Lè Lounc and Lè Barma (2020 m) The last bends before reaching the pass are on terrain containing rock debris.

From the Balma pass, follow the ridge that rises towards Balma di Oropa, then cut to the right, passing at the foot of the summit of Monte Camino.
You go down past the Capanna Renata and then, along a well-marked path along the cable car route you reach the Albergo Savoia, where the cable car that goes up from Oropa arrives. You descend along the D13 path, which passes the Rosazza Refuge and which, after a few bends, enters a dirt road which you follow until it ends on the asphalt road. Once you have crossed the road, take the path on the opposite side which, before a restaurant, turns right and then returns to the asphalt road near the bridge over the Oropa stream, behind the Basilica.


Tourist Areas
Tourist Areas

Mont Blanc

Gran Paradiso

Great Saint Bernard

Aosta and surroundings


Monte Rosa

Central Valley

Tourist offer
Tourist offer

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Saint Vincent - Col de Joux

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