Cesana – San Sicario History
Cesana is an ancient village located in the San Sicario region of the Italian Alps, about 50 miles west of Turin. Cesana with its spectacular views is located under the Chaberton Mountain in what is called the Upper Valley skiing district. The peak of the Chaberton is dominated by the “Batteria di Torri”, the tower battery. The village is one of the most beautiful and well-preserved in the valley.
Along with winter sports, a combination of art and history draws visitors to Cesana. San Giovanni Battista parish church has a portal that is a unique example of Renaissance art in Valle di Susa. The gothic S. Giuliano parish church erected in 1490 is one of the historic sites in the village.
Cesana is located at the foot of the Monginevro Pass, an ancient road to Francem used by Hannibal.
Interesting Fact – Cesana – San Sicario 2006 Olympics
Cesana is best known as the site of the biathlon events at the Torino Winter Olympics, a sport that in some form dates back as far as 1776.
What is the biathlon?
The biathlon events combine cross-country skiing and precision target shooting. The biathlon evolved from the time when Northern Europeans hunted for prey on cross country skis. Later they skied with weapons strung across their shoulders to defend their countries.
Mont Chaberton (Chaberton Mountain)
Now Mont Chaberton is located in France, but until 1947 it was a part of Italy.
Between 1898 and 1910 Italian troops had a fort on the summit with guns pointed towards France. The fort was called the “Fort of the Clouds” because the gun turrets were often hidden in the clouds.
When Italy entered the Second World War, they bombed the French positions around Briançon, but they did not advance. On June 21, 1940 the 154th Artillery Regiment destroyed most of the turrets using marine mortars from The First World War at Verdun. Shell craters are still visible from the air on the slopes to the west of the mountain
At the end of WWII Mont Chaberton became a part of France, and the French/Italian border was moved to the edge of the Italian village of Claviere a town that was almost destroyed in World War II. Today Claviere is a small ski village.
Montgenevre Pass (also known as Col de Montgenèvre and Passo del Monginevro)
The Montgenevre Pass is a high pass in the Cottian Alps between France and Italy. The name comes from the nearby village of the same name which is home to many winter activities. The pass links Briançon in France and the Susa Valley in Italy.
The road through Col de Montgenèvre is a main road and is kept open in winter. The road is the lowest of the main crossings of the Alps between France and Italy.
The pass has been used since 77 BC and was later used by Julius Caesar when he was travelling to Gaul. In 1409 Charles VIII of France led his army in 1494 over the pass on his way to capture the Kingdom of Naples which started the Italian Wars that raged for 65 years. Between 1802 and 1807 Napoleon built a road across the pass.
The Montgenevre Pass has been part of the Tour de France 10 times.
Cesana – San Sicario Skiing
Today ski lifts connect Cesana to different Alpine villages including Sestriere, Sauze d’Oulx, Monti della Luna, Claviere and Montgenevre. There are miles of downhill ski runs located in the resorts of these villages.
Cross-country skiers can enjoy miles of tracks that wind through woods of larch and fir.
Traveling to Cesana – San Sicario
There is train service to Cesana from both Turin and Milan. It takes about an hour and 15 minute to drive from Turin.