Consolidating and securing an old military route between France and Italy

The 'Marguareis Highway' ('Old military route') project has enabled the reuse of a route of particular historical and social value, which is also a road and tourist link between two countries (Italy and France) and three départements (Cuneo, Imperia, and Alpes-Maritimes). Attracting many tourists each year, this route is now safer and regulated, thanks to a shared management model for its access and use. The two first years following the opening of the tourist infrastructure (2015-2016) have already shown that the management model put in place thanks to the Alcotra programme is effective and capable of creating the conditions for sustainable management, both at the environmental and the economic level.

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The Old Military Route encourages the use of zero- or low-impact vehicles, such as mountain bikes.  © Haute Route du Marguareis The Old Military Route encourages the use of zero- or low-impact vehicles, such as mountain bikes. © Haute Route du Marguareis

" The project has enabled the securing and reopening to the public in summer 2015 of the ALTA VIA du MARGUAREIS, an old cross-border military route situated at high altitude and which stretches for about 40 km. Above all, the initiative enabled trialling a brand new cross-border model of sustainable management infrastructure, which allows controlled access in order to preserve the natural and landscape heritage traversed by the route and the study of an economic management plan to ensure its sustainability. "

Chiara Rizzuto, European Project Manager at Chintana Srl

Among the many communication routes that once connected Liguria with France and Piedmont, the Salt Road which ran from Vintimille to Limone Piemonte was certainly one of the most famous and most frequented. In the years 1938-1939, a part of this route – which was only a mule track – was developed and expanded for military purposes, thus forming part of the fortifications of the Italian Western Alpine Wall.

A route that boosts tourism and the economy

The section of the old Military Route of around 40 km that links Monesi to Limone Piemonte – passing through France – is still in existence, and this high-altitude, historic cross-border route has become a popular hiking trail. It was no longer possible to use certain sections of the route, however, and some parts were in danger of erosion or other damage. Thanks to the 'Alta Via du Marguareis' project, this route was able to be made secure and reopened to the public in summer 2015.

The renovation of this link guarantees not only an alternative communication route to the National Road (Strada Statale) no. 20 between Cuneo - Limone Piemonte and Tende-Nice, but also represents an advantage for the local cross-border economy. Its importance is all the greater for the Italian municipalities given that it reaches all the villages. The reuse of the route not only benefits economic activities (alpine pastures and tourism), but it also assures access to emergency assistance in the event of natural disasters.

Sustainable development creating employment

Promoting sustainable cross-border transport was also one of the objectives achieved thanks to this project. The initiative led to the establishment of a European grouping of territorial cooperation [groupement européen de coopération territoriale – EGTC]. This is an instrument that aims to respond to the difficulties found in the area of cross-border cooperation. A new shared model of rigorous management and regulation of access to the route was therefore adopted, the use of zero- or low-impact vehicles (mountain bikes, horses) was encouraged and limits were placed on vehicles at altitude.

The project has also enabled the creation of some forty jobs, in particular workers, geologists, engineers, lawyers, and consultants, but also graphic designers and printers who created communication materials both on paper and in digital form (brochures, flyers, etc.).


Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the ‘Old military route’ project was EUR 1 875 000, of which the EU's European Regional Development Fund contributed EUR 1 091 870 from the Operational Programme ‘Italy – France (Alpes – ALCOTRA)’ for the 2007-2013 programming period. The investment comes under the 'connectivity' priority.


Draft date

30/03/2017