Marguareis Park

A peaceful oasis

The Marguareis Massif. Photo Paolo Bolla

The Park was gazetted in 1978 and today protects about 7900 hectares of alpine environment spread over the upper Pesio and Tanaro valleys, part of three municipalities, Chiusa Pesio, Briga Alta and Ormea. As of 2016, it is part of the Alpi Marittime Protected Areas Authority along with Alpi Marittime Nature Park. Its heart and symbol are the calcareous massif of Marguareis, a sub-sector of the Ligurian Alps, which hosts one of the most important karst systems in Europe. From the highest peaks of the Park, over 2600 metres, the view ranges from Corsica to Monte Rosa. Below 2000 metres, beautiful forests of silver fir, beech and larch give shade to hikers, while the stubborn mountain pine grows in the most difficult areas.

A biodiversity hot spot suspended between the Alps and Provence, the Park is home to an exceptionally varied flora - with continental alpine species alongside plants characteristic of Mediterranean vegetation. The fauna is also varied and rich, and the most typical alpine species are well represented: roe deer, deer, chamois, marmots, eagles and black grouse. To complete the ecosystem of the Valle Pesio, in the middle of the 1990s the first stable wolf pack in the Italian Alps was documented, confirmation that this is an intact and healthy alpine environment.

An excellent trail network and the cosy shelters on the two sides of the Marguareis massif allow hikers to discover the Park taking time to enjoy the wide and open views. Many of the routes follow the ancient "salt routes", paths of communication between the Po Valley and the sea. The most famous is the splendid Limone-Monesi military road, which passes right along the border of the Park. Lower down, the signs of history are visible in the legacy that the monks of the Charterhouse left in Valle Pesio: careful forest management that the Park carries on today with commitment and passion.

ID card

Environment and landscape

  • Calcareous massif of sedimentary origin
  • 3 spectacular waterfalls active in spring and autumn
  • 700 caves currently known
  • 3 peaks over 2600 metres altitude
  • 3 high mountain refuges
  • 2 Park guest houses
  • 2 speleological scientific huts
  • more than 100 kilometres of marked trails

Flora and vegetation

  • 1,501 surveyed plant species, almost a quarter of the entire Italian Flora
  • 9 botanical species endemic or exclusive to the Ligurian and Maritime Alps found in the Park
  • 2 "microendemites", defined as subspecies or varieties: Iberis aurosica subsp. nana , Fritillaria tubaeformis subsp. moggridgei
  • 1 Centre of floristry
  • 1 Germplasm bank
  • 2 alpine botanical stations
  • 1 phytoalimurgical garden
  • 600 hectares of pure ​​beech forest
  • 700 hectares of the forest area occupied by conifers: silver fir, spruce, larch, Swiss stone pine and mountain pines
  • 2,770 hectares of larch forest, the Bosco delle Navette (Site of Community Interest)


  • 1 Wildlife Centre: "Uomini e Lupi" Wildlife Centre in Entracque
  • 4000 chamois (average figure for 2015)
  • 760 ibex (average figure for 2015)
  • 6 species of ungulates present: chamois and ibex, roe deer, wild boar, deer and mouflon
  • 3 wolf packs that frequent the Park territory
  • 20 species of bats surveyed, three quarters of the species known for Piedmont
  • 201 species of birds observed; of these one hundred nest here
  • 63 species of birds considered to be a priority for Europe, including 8 nesting species of birds of prey
  • 3 species of alpine galliformes: ptarmigan, black grouse and rock partridge
  • 9 pairs of golden eagles
  • 41 bearded vultures released between 1993 and 2012 at the Alpi-Marittime-Mercantour site
  • 5 fish species living in the lakes and watercourses: brown trout, marble trout, rainbow trout, bullheads and minnows. 9,000 species of invertebrates, of which 30 are new to science
  • 300 species of spiders, 2 of which are new to science

History and culture

  • 1 prehistoric site at Bric Cavanero (Comune di chiusa di Pesio)
  • 1 educational archeopark
  • 1 Ecomuseum: Ecomuseo dei Certosini
  • 1 permanent photographic exhibition: "Michele Pellegrino" museum in Chiusa di Pesio
  • 1 twelfth century charterhouse
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