is it just me or do places you have visited and loved suddenly pop in to your head at random times. I can be doing anything, totally unrelated to travelling, and a memory of a place will slip in to my head and I am once again there in that place. There are many places I have visited that stay with me and I am sure that all of them have shaped and changed me. The photograph above is the beautiful and remote Valgrisenche in the Gran Paradiso National Park in northern Italy. We stayed a week in Planaval, a small and stunningly beautiful village a little way up the valley in 2009. Valgrisenche is missed by many tourists and we followed the quiet valley road to its end a number of times. Passing the lake, there are a few farms dotted around the valley and more abandoned stone houses. After having hot chocolate in the tiny cafe by the car park we would walk along the trail to the refuge and the high mountains of the Alps, glaciers appearing as you turn a corner. There are marmots here and wild flowers, berries brighten up the autumn rowan trees. This was September and in the week we were here there were days so hot all we wanted to do was bathe our feet in the cool streams, other days the cloud came down and the fresh smell of rain made it feel like Scotland; this place has a wild and remote beauty.
Planaval itself is easily by-passed as you have to turn off the valley road to even see the village. We were there during a village celebration and we watched a promenade play around the narrow village streets that in the local dialect was mostly incomprehensible and we listened to melancholy music that echoed around the steep mountains. From Planaval we walked up steep tracks to look down on the village, finding bubbling mountain streams to quench our thirst from in Alpine meadows. A long snake slithered away on feeling the vibration from our walking poles.
The beauty of Valgrisenche is deep inside me and I am sure that even if I never return the sights, smells and sounds of this stunning place will never leave me.