This fascinating trip follows a network of trails, through Switzerland and Italy, connecting the ancient migratory routes of the Walser people. Of Germanic origin, these people crossed over high mountain passes in search of sustainable land and freedom from feudal lords.
Presumably, the Walser left their homeland in southwest Germany and settled in what we know today as the Bernese Oberland, in Switzerland, around the fifth century A.D., subsequently migrating to a mountainous region in the Swiss canton of Valais, where they settled successfully, contending with the extremes of weather and topography. During feudal times, they became vassals and, prompted by a growing population and the desire to be free, they accepted the feudal lords’ offers for new land with hereditary rights. Once again, they crossed over mountain passes to settle in new regions near and far, including Italy.
Today, the Walser communities are still thriving and active in the Swiss and Italian Alps. They have integrated with other local cultures but, in some localities, they continue to teach and speak their unique German language. One can still admire their customs and traditions at religious services or regional annual festivities.
Hiking in the footsteps of these hardy and determined people, we explore their territories and remote passages. We visit and overnight in villages displaying a wealth of Walser architecture, coming to fully appreciate their humble but industrious way of life.
We skirt majestic glaciers and alpine lakes, enjoy a spellbinding natural environment; we make our way through enchanted forests, past secluded and remote hamlets. Impressive views of some of the highest peaks in the Alps will provide the perfect setting for our exciting journey through centuries of history and culture.
This hiking tour requires a good degree of stamina as we hike over mountain passes and overnight at different mountain inns almost every day.