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

Photo of Monte Rosa (Aosta valley region)

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.

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.

Exploring Monte Rosa: the valleys and the peaks

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.

Face of Monte-Rosa mountain in ItalyFor 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.

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.

See also:

Map of Monte Rosa and places to visit

Monte Rosa places to visit

See more places nearby in the Aosta valley guide