Val della Torre, between mountains, woods and natural pools: an oasis of peace on the outskirts of Turin

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Author Alessandro 14 June 2023
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Do you want to spend a weekend in nature just a stone’s throw from Turin? In this article, we will guide you to discover Val della Torre, a charming village right on the outskirts of the Piedmontese capital.

The well-marked paths that lead through green forests and extensive meadows will give nature lovers the opportunity to explore the pristine beauty of an authentic valley and discover its most suggestive corners that will awaken their senses.

Il torrente Casternone a Val della Torre

Through the mountain hiking trails, which touch many pearls of the local historical heritage, such as the cerchio di Buttiberghe, a unique prehistoric site in Italy, we will take you to savor the true essence of this magical and serene place.

Val della Torre Torino

The map: Val della Torre (TO)

In the map below, we have indicated what to see in Val della Torre: historical points of interest in brown, natural points in green, and nature itineraries in blue. We have also highlighted the course of the Casternone stream, with its numerous beaches and main natural pools. Finally, we marked the points where it is possible to get water.

These places, which are currently reachable with relative ease, still present difficulties and potential hazards due to access routes through vegetation and rocks, and being natural places, they could rapidly change in state and shape due to atmospheric phenomena or natural or artificial modifications of the territory.

For this reason, all the points of interest we have indicated, as well as the paths, should be considered solely for informational purposes, and in any case, those who decide to reach them have the responsibility to make all the correct evaluations and take the necessary precautions to avoid dangerous situations.

Attention! Recently, signs prohibiting the parking of campers inside the village of Val della Torre have been installed. Although several recreational vehicles of the residents, permanently parked in the municipal territory, seem to be tolerated, we advise against entering the village with such vehicles, also due to the difficulties of maneuvering in the steep slopes and limited roadways of the city streets.

We therefore recommend to camper and vanlife friends not to venture into the village with their own means and to avoid free parking along the meadows of the valley, preferring the splendid newly constructed spacious rest area, located in a splendid natural setting between the two main watercourses of the valley, adjacent to the park and very close to the main shops.

Campingcar area Val della Torre
Campingcar area Val della Torre
Playground near Campingcar parking
Playground near Campingcar parking

If you visit Val della Torre, we also recommend visiting the nearby Alpignano and Caselette.

A bit of history

Ancient times

Ancient Roman penal colony, Val della Torre witnessed human settlements even in earlier times. In addition to the remains of the large residential Roman villa in Almese and the more modest rustic villa in Caselette within the municipal territory, perfectly preserved remains of the prehistoric cerchio di Airal have been found, as well as a village dating back to the Bronze Age near Caselette, between the lake and the magnesite quarries.

Middle Ages

During the Early Middle Ages, near Brione, a Benedictine monastery dedicated to San Martiniano was active. In the same place, in the 13th century, the Cistercian female monastery of Santa Maria della Spina was founded, targeting the aristocracy of Turin at that time.

The monastic church still remains, while the monastery was suppressed at the beginning of the 17th century.

Chiesa di Santa Maria della Spina in Frazione Brione
Chiesa di Santa Maria della Spina in Frazione Brione

War of Spanish Succession

In the 18th century, during the War of Spanish Succession, the valley was the scene of clashes that resulted, among other things, in the destruction by the French of the ancient castle - already documented around the year 1000 - that controlled access to the hills Della Bassa, Lunella, and Portia.

The few remaining ruins can still be seen near the village of Castello.

Filippo di Borbone, duca d'Angiò, viene proclamato re di Spagna da Luigi XIV di Francia
Filippo di Borbone, duca d'Angiò, viene proclamato re di Spagna da Luigi XIV di Francia

World War II

During World War II, the valley was the scene of violent clashes between supporters of the fascist regime and partisans.

Monumento ai caduti Val della Torre
Monumento ai caduti Val della Torre

Historical and Cultural Points of Interest

The Tower

In the center of the village of Val della Torre stands its iconic tower, rebuilt at the beginning of the 20th century by the lords of Montelera.

La torre di Val della Torre
La torre di Val della Torre


Chiesa di San Donato Val della Torre
Chiesa di San Donato Val della Torre

Val della Torre boasts several valuable little churches that are true local historical and cultural gems.

The most important one, in addition to Santa Maria della Spina, is probably the ancient Church of San Donato Vescovo e Martire, which houses a wooden statue of San Donato from 1763 by Stefano Maria Clemente.

Chiesa in Borgata Verna
Chiesa in Borgata Verna

Cerchio di Airal

One of the most fascinating and mysterious attractions in Val della Torre is the cerchio di Airal (or Buttiberghe), a circular stone structure with an outer moat of about 60 meters in diameter, located in the Brione hamlet, not far from the confluence of the Casternone and Codano streams.

Cerchio di Airal Buttiberghe
Cerchio di Airal Buttiberghe

Dating back to a certain prehistoric era, between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age, it is hypothesized that it served as a cult area, similar to similar artifacts found from Ireland to Eastern Europe, known as henge, and that it was reused in more recent times, some believe as a place of pagan worship, while others think it had astronomical or ceremonial purposes.

Cerchio di Airal, visione aerea
Cerchio di Airal, visione aerea

The feature that has led to the prehistoric dating of the Circle is the unique opening that interrupts the moat and embankment, allowing access, located in the southeast direction and aligned with the position of the sun at sunrise on the winter solstice, similar to what has been observed in other similar structures, such as the Neolithic Goseck Circle in Germany.

Cerchio di Airal
Cerchio di Airal

The site was discovered in 2014 by volunteers from the GANV (Gruppo Archeologico Naturalistico Valtorrese), but since 2016, volunteers from the GAT (Gruppo Archeologico Torinese) have also become interested in the area.

Natural Attractions

Val della Torre is the starting point for countless excursions to the mountains of Musinè, Curt, Arpone, Lera, Portia, and Lunella.

Prateria a Val della Torre
Prateria a Val della Torre

Mount Musinè (1,150m)

Musinè derives its name from the Late Medieval Latin “6mons Vicinea” (from vicus, meaning village): it was indeed the mountain of the village for the community that had rights of use on common lands.

It is the most well-known mountain in the valley due to numerous legends, sightings of unidentified flying objects, being the setting for films and books, and also because it is only 12 km away from Turin, making it the closest mountain to the capital.

Musinè has been the subject of documentaries, shows, and film locations, such as the post-apocalyptic film La città dell’ultima paura by Carlo Ausino (1975).

On clear days, its summit offers excellent panoramic views in all directions. Musinè is also visible from other provinces in Piedmont.

Points of Interest

On the summit, which consists of a large grassy square with protruding rocks, a 15-meter tall white reinforced concrete cross was erected in 1901, making Musinè easily distinguishable from all the other surrounding mountains.

There is also a stainless steel orientation table indicating the main mountains visible from the summit.


Musinè is among the best examples of surface exposure of the Earth’s mantle. It is a large slab of continental mantle that has been uplifted and brought to the surface through tectonic rift movements.

Since it has not undergone the metamorphism that affected most of the Alpine chain, the rocks that make up Musinè are very close to their original state.

History: Prehistory

Archaeological investigations have revealed prehistoric and protohistoric remains. Worth mentioning are the traces of a hut from the Late Bronze Age (around 1700 BC) on the border between Val della Torre and Caselette, near the old magnesite quarries and the large lake of Caselette.

The Late Iron Age is documented by several findings in the territory of Almese, such as various ceramic artifacts found near Mount Truc Randolera and in Caselette, on top of Moncalvo, at a probable ritual site called Rocchette (3rd-1st century BC), and at a point just below the summit.

The most recent discovery is the aforementioned Airal Circle in the Brione hamlet of Val della Torre.

History: Roman Empire

During the Roman era, specifically in the Augustan period in the late 1st century BC, the area, which was already inhabited by Celts, came under Roman rule.

Visible traces of this period can still be seen in the remains of the ancient Roman aqueduct of Musinè and two contemporary buildings at the foot of the mountain: a rustic villa in Caselette and a large residential villa in Almese near the Grange di Rivera.

History: Middle Ages

At least since the Middle Ages, if not already during the Celtic and Roman periods, Musinè represented a territory of common use for the communities settled at its feet: a reserve of timber, grazing land, and a place for gathering herbs and wild fruits.

History: Modern and Contemporary Periods

For centuries, the periodic cutting of coppice woodland on Musinè has been an important source of income for the municipality of Caselette.

In addition to pastures, plants, and firewood, the mountain was important because it collected water from springs, channeled to supply the town, and for the extraction of magnesite.

Magnesite was already used by the Romans for the floors of the rustic villa but became a real mining activity after the mid-19th century, representing the only industrial activity in Caselette until the post-war period.

Protected Natural Park and Hiking Trails

The mountain, along with the lakes of Caselette, is part of the Site of Community Interest (SCI) of the European network Natura 2000 (under the designation “Monte Musinè e Laghi di Caselette”), a continental ecological network.

Countless hiking itineraries, some exclusively for pedestrians and others for cyclists as well, run along and climb up the mountain.

The most popular trail starts from the sports field in Caselette and follows the entire southeast ridge: by passing each station of the Via Crucis of Musinè, one reaches the Sanctuary of Sant’Abaco. From there, the path behind the sanctuary leads to the southeast ridge, and after about an hour of walking, the summit is reached.

Numerous other trails start from Almese, Rivera, Milanere, and Val della Torre.

Due to its sunny exposure and sparse vegetation, especially at higher altitudes, the most suitable period for climbing is from October to May.

If you are about to undertake one of the hiking trails on Mount Musinè, beware of pine processionary caterpillars, as they can cause harm to human health and that of animals.

Monte Curt (1,323 m)

Trail at the base of Monte Curt
Trail at the base of Monte Curt

The Monte Curt (corto in Piedmontese) or Monte Curto is located in the territories of Almese, Rubiana, and Val della Torre.

It was a place for the extraction of iron minerals.

Ascent to Monte Curt
Ascent to Monte Curt

The normal ascent route is the Bruno Giorda trail, which starts from Pera Pluc in the municipality of Almese and follows the southeastern ridge of the mountain.

However, it can also be reached from Val della Torre starting from Colle della Portia, Borgata Savarino, and through unofficial and less-traveled paths from the Grangia and Giachero.

Monte Arpone (1,602 m)

Monte Arpone Val della Torre
Monte Arpone Val della Torre

The Monte Arpone (known as “mont Arpon” in Piedmontese), included in the Provincial Nature Park of Col del Lys, affects the municipalities of Rubiana, Viù, and Val della Torre. It should not be confused with Monte Arpon (1,236 m) located in the municipality of Rubiana near the Favella hamlet, on the opposite side of the Messa stream.

Monte Arpone joins Monte Curt at an altitude of 1,157 m at the pass where the sanctuary of Madonna della Bassa is located.

Following the western ridge for about one kilometer, you reach the Colle del Lis, while the northeast ridge leads towards Monte Colombano.

The main trails traverse its three ridges, starting from the Sanctuary of Madonna della Bassa, the nearest Colle del Lis (marked with blue notches), and Colle della Portia.

On its northern slope, cross-country skiing is possible in winter.

Monte Lera (1,368 m)

View of Monte Lera from Monte Curt
View of Monte Lera from Monte Curt

Monte Lera is a rocky ridge without a unique summit, located between the municipalities of Val della Torre, Varisella, and Givoletto.

Like Monte Arpone, it should not be confused with the homonymous peak located at the head of the Valle di Viù.

It can be reached from Givoletto, Val della Torre, and Colle Lunella.

Summit of Colle Lunella
Summit of Colle Lunella

Just below the summit, there is a chapel dedicated to Madonna della Neve, which, together with the surrounding territory, is included in the Madonna della Neve Nature Reserve, the only protected area of this kind in Piedmont, established in 1984 to protect a station of Euphorbia gibelliana Peola, a rare plant endemism.

The accessibility is made difficult by rocks and frequent thorny shrubs.

Among the surrounding peaks, it is perhaps one of the richest in fauna: it is a site of proliferation for various species of birds and mammals, including marmots, foxes, martens, weasels, polecats, badgers, wild boars, deer, fawns, ibexes, and wolves.

On August 5th, the traditional procession linked to the cult of Madonna della Neve takes place, during which the faithful climb the path to the chapel from the underlying village of Givoletto.

Rifugio Portia

Colle Lunella
Colle Lunella

A good base for hikers and very useful in case of adverse weather conditions (we used it during a strong storm that surprised us on Monte Arpone), the Portia Refuge is located at Colle della Portia, between the municipalities of Viù and Val della Torre, and connects Val di Viù with Val Casternone.

Rifugio Portia
Rifugio Portia

It can be reached from Colle del Lys (1,311 m) through an inter-farm road and then a trail (difficulty level T), which takes about one hour, or through another trail starting from the Mulino di Punta locality in Val della Torre, which requires 2 hours of walking (difficulty level E).

Built in 1993 by adapting an old rest building from 1870, it has remained open until our last hike.

The Casternone Stream and the Natural Pools

It is precisely among these mountains that the main watercourse of the valley, the Casternone, is generated, which flows through its entire length.

The pools of Val della Torre
The pools of Val della Torre

The territory of Val della Torre is almost symmetrically divided by the stream, which, flowing from the slopes of the Alpe Lunella, near the ancient copper mine, descends to San Gillio, offering many spots to cool off in the shade of the surrounding nature (especially in the upper part of the valley) and a variety of beaches (in the lower valley).

Banks of the Casternone
Banks of the Casternone

Loved by the locals but also highly appreciated by visitors for the quality of its waters and the various natural pools that dot its course (“Le Pozze”), it is particularly crowded in the spring and summer.

Casternone Stream
Casternone Stream

The name Casternone has ancient origins: it derives from the Latin Castrum Nonum, the ninth encampment. The valley, initially populated by Celts, later became a penal colony under Roman rule.

Already in 1913, the theologian Prato described the Casternone as follows:

Thin and dry habitually, but when there is even a slight storm or during long rains, it swells with the thousand surrounding rivulets, becoming swollen, roaring, and overflowing, horribly devastating the countryside, and noisily dragging many large boulders, which it then leaves, just on the plain, to clutter its own bed.

Today, thanks to the embankment reinforcement works of the last century, it no longer experiences the horrible and devastating overflowing described. However, near the stream, it is still possible to hear, during floods, the noise of large boulders being dragged downstream.

Legends of Val della Torre

Municipality of Val della Torre
Municipality of Val della Torre

Like many places rich in history, Val della Torre is a place steeped in folklore.

The princess of the tower

Among the best-known legends, one tells the story of the princess imprisoned in the tower of the ancient castle by her evil father-in-law. It is said that every night, although only a few ruins of the tower and the castle remain, those who go to the place can still hear her cries.

Other legends, parallel to those of the neighboring Caselette, speak of hidden treasures and mystical creatures (especially werewolves) that roam the surrounding woods.

The Gold Mine

Halfway between legend and reality are the tales of the existence of a gold mine in the mountains of the Valley.

Indeed, there are several abandoned mines with deep and dangerous excavations and tunnels on the slopes: some recognizable, others completely reclaimed by nature. Among these are some magnesite quarries and a copper mine, where gold has also been found in the past.

However, the small quantities of the mineral were never considered economically advantageous enough to warrant further mining for this precious metal.

More interestingly, it is known that, like other Italian alpine streams, the Casternone and its tributaries in the valley represent watercourses with a relatively high percentage of this precious mineral.

Perhaps that’s why it is not uncommon, along the course of the stream, from top to bottom, to see young, old, and children sieving the waters and gravelly bottom, as pioneers of this recently rediscovered activity after over two hundred years of neglect.


Paragliding in Turin
Paragliding in Turin

In addition to being a destination for hikers, history enthusiasts, and visitors seeking refreshment, Val della Torre is also the closest paragliding site to Turin.

Flying over Val della Torre, you can admire the plain of Turin surrounded by Superga and the Colle della Maddalena.

A dirt road (only accessible with equipped vehicles) allows you to reach a point about 50 meters below the take-off area.

Valdellatorre Sky Marathon: An Breathtaking Challenge Among the Peaks of the Valley

The Valdellatorre Sky Marathon is one of the most thrilling mountain running competitions in Italy, attracting athletes and enthusiasts every year.

The Valdellatorre Sky Marathon is usually held in April, although the dates may vary from year to year. The latest edition took place in April 2023. You can find detailed information about the marathon on the Val della Torre municipality’s website at this address.

The race covers a challenging route of 40 kilometers, with a positive elevation gain of over 2,000 meters.

Participants traverse breathtaking hiking trails, pass through mountain refuges and sanctuaries, and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding valleys and peaks.

Athletes must tackle rugged terrain, demanding climbs, and ever-changing weather conditions.

For this reason, the Valdellatorre Sky Marathon is a true test of endurance and determination.

How to get there

Landscape of Val della Torre
Landscape of Val della Torre

For nature lovers, hiking enthusiasts, and those who simply want to take a break from the increasingly crowded and hectic city without having to drive several kilometers, Val della Torre is an unmissable destination, easily accessible from Turin in just a few minutes.

July 3, 2023: Enhancement of Transportation Services

Starting from July 3rd, Val della Torre has seen an improvement in local public transportation services through the reorganization of bus lines. The main objective of these changes has been to provide more efficient and faster connections for the residents of Val della Torre, allowing easy access to healthcare services and shopping centers.

This initiative is part of a broader plan that involves the municipalities in the North-West area of the Turin belt and the healthcare hub in Venaria.

New schedules and routes will be introduced, allowing residents to benefit from improved public transportation services and faster connections to neighboring areas, including Alpignano and the Fermi metro station.

One of the bus lines involved is line 148, which serves Val della Torre and the Brione/Pragranero/Grange Palmero area, connecting them to the network in Alpignano with train connections (continuation to the metro terminal at Collegno Fermi on line 132, to Rivoli on line 432).

For more information, please visit this link.

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Alessandro Lussi
Computer scientist, electrical engineer, mechanic and jurist, traveling on the road since birth.
Passionate about off-grid life and self-production, I write for passion.