Pis del Pesio, Hiking in the Maritime Alps.

I have always loved the mountains and I remember my first train ride to Piemonte fondly as the train chugged its way through the Maritime Alps from the city of Ventimiglia to the town of Fossano in the region of Piedmont. I had been invited by family friends to come and visit as I was trying to figure out where I wanted to stay for a while to teach English.  During the train ride, I was like a little kid in a candy shop looking at the scenery whenever we came out of a tunnel, given momentary glimpses of the beauty that still captivates me whenever we head towards the French Riviera.  I instantly fell in love with the region of Piedmont with its stunning mountains, rolling hills, and fertile plains. That little adventure that was supposed to last a year or two while I learned to speak Italian, started in 1997 and has lasted a bit longer than originally planned


I hold my father responsible for my love of hiking and have many pictures from my youth in Washington state exploring the North Cascades, various hikes along the Pacific Crest trail, in the Olympics and of Mount Rainier where I went in search of mountain goats and wild flowers.  I think Spray Park is still one of my all-time favorite hikes. Access to hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter are two things that convinced me that Piemonte was a good temporary place for me before I ever met Mauro.  Meeting him just sealed the deal. 

During this unsettling time in which we are all trying to recover from COVID-19, we have entered phase three.  The economy is not rebooting as easily as we would like, and we have found ourselves with more free time on our hands. At least we are free to wander about again. My job simply does not exist right now and Mauro, is juggling work days interspersed with forced vacation, and furlough as their company sales are down and production is about 40% of what it should be. The bright side of this, is it he has time off during the week and we can go hiking. One of my favourite places to hike is about a 20-minute drive from our home up the Pesio River Valley.   Mauro brought me here on one of our first dates. I also fell in love with it because there are some places there that reminds me of my home in the Pacific Northwest. It is blessed with many trails long and short and particularly in the spring, a rushing river cascades over rocks and lulls me with its rumble the entire way.

Pis del Pesio is the hike we chose for our Tuesday outing after a short morning of home-schooling. We packed up a picnic and drove up into the mountains to find the source of the Pesio River.   Pis in Piemontese and pisciare in Italian translates as “to piss,”in English.  In the springtime, usually April and May, between snow melt and precipitation, the river literally pisses out of the rocks, forming a 60 foot waterfall before it tumbles down the valley before joining the Tanaro River. Pis del Pesio is a temporary jet of water that spews from the rocks, but the river that starts just below the opeing is a real cave, nearly 6000 feet long that acts like a siphon for mountains around it.  The “Pis” is the emergency pressure valve and unfortunately we missed it by about a week so it was more of a trickle, but the river was still spectacular as there is lots of water underground.


In all, our hike was a 7 mile loop with roughly 1500 feet of elevation gain. The starting point is Pian delle Gorre where you will find maps and trail markers pointing you in the right direction. I hope you enjoy the pictures from this latest adventure. It was a peaceful day in the woods, a great place for social distancing, and quality time with two of my favorite people.

Cascata del Saut
The Rifugio at Pian delle Gorre. This is a great place to go eat polenta and grilled meat.

9 thoughts on “Pis del Pesio, Hiking in the Maritime Alps.

  1. Stunning photos and what a handsome family you have! Enjoy your mountains. I can relate, I live in Colorado and get to the Rockies every chance I get!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *