The Aosta Valley (or Valle d’Aosta) is located in the north easter Italian alps bordering Switzerland. This stunning mountainious region has become a favourite for many adventerous travellers and athletes to train for mountaineering or expeditions at altitude, ice climbing, skiing, snowboarding and in the summer moutain biking or trail running the famous Tor de geants routes. This autumn we got the chance to head to this beautiful location and enjoy a hike up to the Mantova Hun at approx. 3500m elevation.
Hiking to Mantova Hut
Before our hike, we stayed a night in Gressoney at an elevation of 1385m. We were here on an organised as part of a big event. In the morning we went by coach to Staffal to meet our guides and do a kit check.
There were about 8 groups out with a guide each and we were the ones that set off last due to arriving late the night before and waiting for lunch supplies to arrive. So we were definitely tired.
We then took the ski lift up to Gabiet due to the teams setting off late in general and our final team being the ones who didn’t get chance to get the lunch for the 2 days of hiking (it should be noted the flight, transfers etc were out of our hands. This was a sponsored trip otherwise i’d usually get somewhere at least a day before).
When going up in the ski lift, you could see how beautiful the forest and rivers are. It is about 4.5km between staffal and our start point in Gabiet and walking wise abour 1.5 hours.
What Was the Hike from Gabiet to Mantova Hut Like?
Starting the Hike To Mantova
We arrived at the ski lift station in Gabiet and looked around to see a gravel travel veering off to the left around the mountain and a few quant old houses with rustic charm. The path had a deceptive incline that looked like nothing.
- Starting Location: Gabiet
- Starting Elevation: Approx. 2.375 m metres
- Starting Time: Approx. 11:30am
As we headed up and around the trail we realised how well marked the paths were. I was actually in shock. I don’t know why but having heard so much about this area of the alps I expected it to be more wild and I definitely didn’t expect the weather to be so mild.
The views on the hike were fantastic, you started in the tree line where everything was lush and green, gorgeous glacial rivers with turquoise hues and as you reached higher levels the ground steepened, trees dissapeared and soon more rocky slabs were forming.
Every now and again we had to look back at how stunning the scenery was. We were going at a steady pace but did need to stop a few times to manage my body temperature (I was getting too hot from hot flushes) or sometimes another member of the group needed a couple of minutes. When this happened I got the chance to enjoy the scenery again.
As we started to reach the rock fall area closer to the hut, it became a bit more exposed and you could feel a chill. I personally prefer the cold to the heat when hiking. I find it a lot easier to warm up and pop layers on than to cool down.
This was the bit where most groups needed a couple of stops. It was steeper and there was some loose scree aswell as rocky boulders. A part of me wished that we weren’t told it was a more recent rock fall
We did this hike in late september and the temperature was quite hot for most of the walk. It only cooled when we reached altitude.
The views from everywhere were like a picture.
Arriving at Mantova Hut
When we arrived the views were obviously spectacular. They got even better as the sun was setting over the alps and you could see Mont Blanc in the distance. Behind the huts you could see glaciers reaching up to the peaks and into more clouds.
- Finishing Location: Città di Mantova Hut
- Finishing Elevation: 3498 metres
- Finishing Time: approx. 5pm
The Views From Mantova Hut Make Almost Ant Hike Worthwhile. It Is Just Beautiful.
The accomodation consisted of shared bunks with unisex shared toilets on the lower floor. The beds are comfy and spacious, with sleeping bags provided. The views from each of the rooms are simply stunning.
From our room when I opened the shutters in the morning we could see a glacier right outside (below). Overnight it was very cold and hit -6 degrees celsius outside. It stayed reasonably warm up the hut luckily, but it was a shock to the system in the morning when we stepped outside again.
The Stats Of Our Hike to Mantova Hut
- Total Distance Covered: Approx 10km
- Total Elevation by foot: 1123m (variable elevation throughout).
- Total Time: 5.5+ hours (approx. 4.5 hours moving time).
Eating & Staying at Mantova Hut
The food at the hut is also brilliant. We had to pre book our stay (via the company we went with) and pre book a meal (you get why when you see how remote it is). We had a homemade soup and my husband had pasta (which was amazing). We both had the Veal as our main (which was cooked perfectly). During the day they have on other meals such as pasta dishes etc. So if you stop in here you can order one of these too. The coffee’s and Hot Chocolates are also a great shout.
There is running water to brush teeth and wash hands but no shower or drinking water available. If you require more water you can buy bottles at the hut, so consider bringing a bladder in your bag. The toilets aren’t a typical toilet and just a squatting hole in the ground, so just be aware. They do flush so you don’t get the build up of smell like i’ve seen in others. But this can be a bit of a shock for people who haven’t experienced this before.
Final Thoughts of the Trip & Hike
Would I Do This Hiking Route Again?
Simply put… Yes absolutely, but with a different guide and/or organiser.
If I was planning this again, I would really want to start in Staffal (which was what the team had planned till the organisers realised lots of people were without lunch due to late flights and transfers etc).
I would also set off just before the sun has come up if possible or just as it’s rising. The path is well marked all the way up. I think this would allow for arrival at the hut earlier and also a more relaxed pace for us to enjoy the route. We had a lunch stop for 20 minutes. And other stops were a few minutes each but quite frequent. I think having 2 – 3 stops for light lunch for 15 minutes would have helps and kept us at a better pace.
What Did We Think of the Company?
In all honesty not at all impressed and whilst the company we were going as part of a sponsored expedition training, with offer amazing value for their tester programmes etc., It just isn’t worth it in my opinion.
We were due to be sponsored by this company for their adventure expedition team but both myself and my husband requested to withdraw immediately following this experience. We also withdrew from all 5 of our other trips with them (some on a tester reduced fee).
There was some safety and logistical concerns surrounding our groups experience.
This was fed back to the operations manager and he seemed to take it on board. I truly believe they will have some amazing offers in future and those continuing on will undoubtadly have a great time. Therefor I wont specifically name the company in this case.
If you are an experienced mountaineer with good navigation skills and familiar with the area then this could be done without a local guide; however I would strongly urge you not to take this chance without that prior experience, research or skill.
Additionally make sure that you have insurance covering you for altitude. Typical winter snow sports insurance will cover you to between 3000-3500m but not above this. If you plan to do this whole route or to one of the other peaks, then I would reccomend checking first.
I would love to go on this hike, the wonderful scenery of the Italian Alps, and the extremely picturesque landscapes. It’s great that you give so many interesting tips about this trail. Also is great to know that the food at the hut at Mantova is delicious.
This looks so beautiful – those views are just amazing. However, I think that enjoying those sceneries was well-earned since the hike up looks quite hard. I’m not sure if I could do it.
Your photos are amazing! Even though the tour didn’t meet your expectations. The views are spectacular, but sleeping in bunks is not my style. I’d need different accommodations if I were to visit here. For now, I’ll live vicariously through you! 😁
L D Holland
We visited another Mantova (aka Mantua) in Italy but I could not remember any mountains nearby. So it was clear when I read your blog post that this is a very different spot than we visited. The hike up is certainly stunning with amazing views. That 10km hike sure too you up to an amazing viewpoint. Good to see this hike through your eyes as it is well past my skill level! Linda (LD Holland)
Thanks for your honest advice about not going with that tour company. Sorry you had that experience, but it’s helpful information for those that might be considering going with the tour, to reconsider. This area is indeed beautiful, and would love to hike in the Italian Alps. That would be a bucketlist adventure without a doubt!
It looks like a beautiful place with views well worth the climb, and the hut experience sounds like a bit of luxury. Too bad the organized tour didn’t meet your standards. I hope they take your feedback to improve their services and come back with something great!