This is an excerpt from the book “Aosta Valley Itineraries”.
Cogne, the heart of the Gran Paradiso
Cogne is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in the Alps. The valley preserves habitats of great charm, mostly in the Gran Paradiso National Park, populated by a rich fauna. The right side of the valley is home to a wide variety of plant species including some of the rare flora of the region. Even the man-made environment is of great interest, cogneins have preserved the towns from excessive housing development and so the villages still retain the characteristics of a time, carefully restored traditional houses.
Cogne offers services to tourists, however, the host of excellent quality, with comfortable hotels, excellent local restaurants and entertainment for adults and children.
To reach exit at Cogne Aosta West motorway, cross Aymavilles, a country dominated by the characteristic castle and climb the narrow valley carved out by the river Grand Eyvia. The main town of Cogne and the lawn of St. Orso. Photo by Maurizio BroglioLungo the climb is worth making a short detour to visit the bridge-aqueduct Pondel, spectacular and original work of civil 3 BC.
For the first few kilometers the road crosses the steep slopes of a narrow valley. Today many galleries and Rockfall make the course quickly and safely but once this part was often impassable during the winter months and this has contributed to the economic isolation and culture of Cogne.
Just before the hamlet Epiney, the valley widens discovering forests, meadows, glaciers and high peaks. The main town of Cogne, formed by the two fractions Veulla and Sonveulla, is located next to the vast fields of Sant’Orso, authentic green heart of the resort, wisely preserved by speculation. Here the valley branches in different valleys, the most famous, that of Valnontey, culminating in the summit of Gran Paradiso, 4,061 m.
Already the geographer Strabo wrote of mining exploitations in Valle d’Aosta by Salassi, the Celtic-Ligurian population that inhabited our region before the Roman conquest in 25 BC Although some authors consider possible exploitation of mineral deposits in Cogne in Roman times, the first documents that attest to the presence of mining activities are medieval (1150 and 1421) and refer to the silver mines in Valleille. The mining in Cogne and the Valle d’Aosta gains momentum in the ‘600-700 in conjunction with the numerous wars that affected the states of Savoy and the consequent increased need for metals for weapons. In Cogne, an ancient fief, in 1640 a subsequent suit between the bishop of Aosta and the local community for the right to exploit the deposits of magnetite. The development of metallurgy has a new impetus with the arrival of Carlo Mutta Bergamo, a native of Val Brembana. His family, as well as the founders Gervasone, begin the exploitation of mines in many places in the region. In the first half of the nineteenth century is that action of the doctor Cesar Emmanuel Grappein, graduated in medicine in Turin in 1804 and for many years mayor of the town. He does make a good route for the transportation of material and organize the exploitation of the lodging by the local population. In 1898, the Cogne mine, abandoned for decades, was purchased by the Belgian Alfred Theys. In 1907 he founded the Society of Mining anonymous Cogne start of geological research and carries out the cable cars to transport downstream of the mineral. In 1917 the company was acquired by Ansaldo that realizes the tunnel under the drink to allow the transport of magnetite rail up to the mountain of Aosta. In 1927 was founded the Société Anonyme National Cogne with the participation of the state.
A direct industrial exploitation of the mines Franz Elter introducing modern farming techniques. In the early thirties the Cogne becomes a “special agency” of the fascist state and gets important contracts for the supply of war material. The company, which integrated the Cogne mine, that of anthracite in La Thuile and the steel of Aosta, get to have about 10,000 employees at the end of the war. Elter, active in the War of Liberation, he was appointed special commissioner. Since the ’50s the Cogne lose competitiveness and market shares. In 1959 are abandoned upper galleries of Colonna and Liconi and the input is moved further down, Costa del Pino, 2027 m. The miners are accommodated in a new village, built above the village. In 1966 the mine was abandoned in La Thuile and finally closed in 1979 is also mine Cogne.
Of this epic remain today the imposing ruins of the installations column, at an altitude of 2,406 buildings that housed hundreds of miners, staying there for several days shifts, isolated from everything, some plants Shipyard Cogne, where it was the selection of the mineral, the landfills of inert material, deposited on the right bank of the river Grand Eyvia.
Trivia: In 2009, after years of work and investment, the regional government has decided to abandon the project of connection between tourism Pila and Cogne, using the route of the train that transported the ore from Cogne Cold waters and from there to the steel Aosta.
Where to stay in Cogne
There are high quality hotels, apartments, condo hotels and guesthouses available, check them out and make a reservation here.