Learn about the historic roots of the Tour de Monte Rosa hiking route, a gorgeous and wild loop from Zermatt through Italy around Switzerland’s tallest mountain.
Walking the Tour de Monte Rosa (TMR) route through Italy and Switzerland, an unfolding gallery of panoramic mountains, quaint villages, and idyllic streams greets your eager eyes. Perfectly set stone trails seem to exist just for the enjoyment of hikers. It might be hard to imagine walking along this sweeping path with an enormous load of salt and spices on your back. But, in fact, that is exactly the use these “roads” were originally built to serve.
The Monte Moro Pass was once an important trade and seasonal migration route for the Walsers, some of the region’s most influential inhabitants. It is also the first pass that crosses from Switzerland over into Italy. Now, the Madonna delle Nevi (Madonna of the Snow) watches over the pass. She is the ultimate destination for many Catholics during the feast days in early August. This small area is also a popular area for skiing. In both the winter and summer, the higher elevation and local lift access easily serves the hill for those not heading up for a pilgrimage. Its proximity to the Italian Lakes District also makes it a popular destination for Italians looking to exchange big city hustle for the ease of smaller mountain villages.
The Theodul Pass linking Italy’s Aosta Valley and Switzerland’s Valais Canton historically served as a bridge for resources, religion, and politics. Sometimes it even meant survival when the strain on resources grew with populations in both areas. The pass remains a formidable obstacle for those traveling across the border between Zermatt and Cervinia. Travel will soon be much easier. A new cableway connecting the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise station and the Testa Grigia station is in the works. Skiing has replaced the trading of goods. But the pass still remains an important link between the people and economies of the region.
The convenience of modern travel makes access to the Alps fairly straightforward. The trails surrounding the Monte Rosa massif still serve as the most direct path of travel between the remote valleys you’ll visit here. Trading may be done a little differently now, but these paths are still well-used. For hundreds of years, they have held up extremely well and are still traveled much like they were back then: on foot.
Are you looking to explore this route? Check out our Guided Tour de Monte Rosa.