The "Glorious Repatriation of the Waldensians" is the historical-cultural route on the 6 stages in Piedmont of the great Alpine crossing which, in August 1689, brought a thousand or so Waldensians and Huguenots back to their lands, in Val Pellice, Val Germanasca and Val Chisone, after a three-year forced exile following the Edict of Nantes and the religious persecutions of the Protestant community in Piedmont that arose. Today the route is part of the “Huguenot and Waldensian Trail”, recognised as a European Cultural Route by the Council of Europe.

 

From Piccolo Moncenisio to Bobbio Pellice, step by step villages and towns reveal a dimension that links a particular naturalistic beauty, amidst woods and valleys to the fascination of customs, languages and traditions. To spread knowledge of the flourishing Waldensian cultural heritage in the Piedmontese valleys is a widespread museum system that includes the Waldensian Museum in Torre Pellice, the Museum of San Germano Chisone, that of Prali, in Val Germanasca, the Museum of Waldensian Women and the Odin Bertot School-Museum in Angrogna, and the characteristic Beckwith School-Museum in Pramollo, alongside places of worship and culture.

 

As evidence of the historical conflicts in these border valleys, Europe's largest Alpine military bulwark stands on the left side of Val Chisone: the Fenestrelle Fortress. The colossal masonry architecture, extending for 3 kilometres on the ridge of Mount Orsiera with a height difference of over 600 metres, is the fulcrum of the defence system built in the 18th century by architect Ignazio Bertola for the Savoy family. Second in size only to the Chinese Wall, today the fortification is accessible by guided tours. Those who enjoy walking can reach it from the Sentiero dei Cannoni (Cannon Trail), one of the itineraries in the greenery of the Orsiera Rocciavrè Regional Nature Park. Between Orsiera and the Gran Bosco di Salbertrand Nature Park, Usseaux is an authentic alpine gem to be discovered along the themed trails that connect its 5 hamlets. This little world of painted murals and sundials, inlaid woodwork and 18th century wash houses, ovens and mills has become one of Piedmont's 14 “Most Beautiful Villages in Italy” and is a “Sustainable Village of Piedmont” and an Orange Flag holder for the Touring Club.

 

Descending into Val Germanasca, on the Sentiero del Ramìe (Ramìe trail) through the Pomaretto vineyards, the monorail that was recently introduced to facilitate cultivation on these sunny slopes makes it clear why this red wine (now Pinerolese DOC) is called 'heroic'. In Prali, a visit to the Ecomuseum of Mines and Val Germanasca, which tells the story of the work of the local farmer-miners in the two mines Paola and Gianna, is a classic.

 

For those who love walking and multi-day treks, the itinerary in the footsteps of the Waldensians also crosses several sections of the GTA in Piedmont (Great Alpine Crossing) and other routes of the regional hiking network. Not forgetting the Anello delle Valli Valdesi ring trail, which passes from Angrogna to Bobbio Pellice, Rora', Torre Pellice and Villar Pellice in 8 stages (about 120 km in total).

 

At the entrance of Val Chisone and Val Germanasca, in a wide plain at the foot of the Cottian Alps, lies Pinerolo, which, in the Middle Ages, was the capital of the small kingdom of the Achaea (cadet branch of the House of Savoy). The history of what was also a city-fortress, particularly in the Napoleonic era, is now documented by the National Museum of the Cavalry, dedicated to the Military School of the Cavalry founded in 1849 to train the military nobility, and the Historical Museum of Mutual Aid, in the ancient site where the General Association of Workers was established on 12 October 1848, the first Mutual Aid Society founded in Italy.