Turning off the main SS33 route through the Ossola valley, head for the signs to Valle Anzasca and Macugnaga (pronounced MA-KOO-NIAGA). The Anzasca valley begins from the aptly named Piedimulera (piedi means foot in Italian) at just 248m and leads you up, via the typically twisting but well maintained mountain road, to Macugnaga and the eastern face of Monte Rosa, the largest of all the Alps in terms of both width and height (over 4,360m).
Piedimulera has buildings dating back to the fourteenth century, and further along is Calasca (known for its military dating back to 1641) and Castiglione, considered to be amongst the prettiest of villages amongst stone-built Ossola.
Incidentally, as you come in towards Piedimulera you will see a modern petrol station on your right just beyond a small roundabout. If your tank is getting low then it's recommended you top up here, although there is at least one other petrol station on the main route further up the valley.
The mountain peaks of Monte Rosa dominate Macugnaga at the end of the Anzasca valley. Like a huge cathedral of rock and ice, Monte Rosa is the only Himalayan-type face within the Alps. Rising to a height of 4,638m, there are four distinct peaks - or "le quattro sorelle" (the four sisters) - Gnifetti, Zumstein, Dufour and Nordend.
When the sky is bright and the sun shines on to the vast face, Monte Rosa lives up to its name of the Pink Mountain, providing a wonderful natural splash of colour. At these times it is truly breath-taking, even from some distance away, and we defy anyone not to want to stop the car and take a photo.
Antrona is perhaps the least well-known and least tourist-trodden of the Ossola valleys, and is worth a visit almost because of that! Its villages have that characteristic alpine charm without any of the false embelishments you may see in the more popular areas. And Antrona has a beautiful surprise for those who take the time to venture to the end of the valley.
From the main road at the foot of the valley in Villadossola, you start your climb. Like the road that winds through the better known Valle Anzasca, there is just one route along the Valle d'Antrona and it's a little narrower but still two-way and well maintained all the way to Antrona Piana at the end of the journey.