Monte Rosa, Italy: visit the second highest mountain in Italy

Photo of Monte Rosa (Aosta valley region)

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Visit Monte Rosa

Monte Rosa is Italy's second highest mountain and is located about 10 kilometres south-east of the Matterhorn in the Alps of north-west Italy. Although the summit of Monte Rosa itself, at 4634 metres above sea-level, is in Switzerland most of the Monte Rosa Massif is within Italy.

It is a great mass of a mountain at the head of the Valsesia, Gressoney and Ayas valleys, and its size and bulk provides a stark contrast to the elegant simplicity of its near neighbour, the Matterhorn. Monte Rosa can be seen from many places in north-western Italy and from near the western Lombardy lakes such as Lake Maggiore.

Exploring Monte Rosa: the valleys and the peaks

Note: the name of the mountain comes from 'glacier mountain' not 'pink mountain' as you might have guessed, with 'rosa' coming from 'rou├ęse' which is a local word for glacier.

As with the other important mountains in the region, a popular way for 'non-mountaineers' to explore is to follow one of the organised trips that follows around the base of the Monte Rosa, a trek that usually takes around ten days. Although you avoid the need to climb to the summit on this route it is still reasonably challenging with several mountain passes to be crossed.

For those who don't want to spend 10 days trekking there are plenty of opportunities to get good views of the mountain from the valleys below.

Alagna is the most popular place to stay among hikers and outdoor enthusiasts who visit the region. Of course many of the walks are challenging and need proper equipment and experience.

The village standing at the bottom of the sheer cliff to the east of Monte Rosa is Macugnana.

The villages in the valleys below Monte Rosa are more Germanic than Italian in character, and occupied by the Walsers - these people have a fascinating history within the valley, that you can learn about at the museum in Pedemonte, a short walk from Alagna.

Face of Monte-Rosa mountain in Italy

Wherever you travel in the region around the mountain you will see the unusual wooden houses that the Walsers occupy, much unchanged since their arrival in the 13th century.

A couple of cable cars in the vicinity allow the less adventurous among us to access the high mountains, for example the cable car that operates from Champoluc to Testa Grigia (more than 3300 metres above sea level) or another from Alagna to Punta Indren (3260 metres above sea level).

Other popular villages and resorts in the Monte Rosa region include those at Champoluc, Brusson, Gressoney-St-Jean (which also has a small museum about the wildlife you might encounter), Issime and Riva Valdobbia, with its church having a very colourful frescoed facade from the 16th century.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Aosta valley guide.

See also:

Map of Monte Rosa and places to visit

Places to visit near Monte Rosa

Matterhorn

Matterhorn

The Matterhorn needs no introduction - it is perhaps the most famous mountain in the world!

Matterhorn guide

Varallo

Varallo

Varallo is visited for the Sacro Monte di Varallo basilica and extensive series of chapels

Varallo guide

Sacro Monte di Oropa

Sacro Monte di Oropa

The Sanctuary of Oropa is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Italy

Sacro Monte di Oropa guide

Fortress of Bard

Fortress of Bard

Both the medieval village and its renowned fortress make Bard a very interesting destination

Fortress of Bard guide

Domodossola

Domodossola

Explore the town of Domodossola or use it as a base for taking the scenic railway to Locarno

Domodossola guide

Lake Orta

Lake Orta

Lake Orta with the island of Isola San Giulio and village of Orta San giulio together make a very picturesque small lake

Lake Orta guide