The excavations were started in 1479 thanks to the will of the Marquis of Saluzzo Ludovico II, in agreement with the king of Provence Renato D’Angiò: today it is the destination of many hikers every summer.
The tunnel, a rock tunnel about 75 meters long that connects Italy and France, is closed every year at the end of the summer season, to avoid any damage caused by winter snow. The tunnel connects the municipalities of Crissolo and Ristolas and every summer is an attraction for many mountain lovers: it is located on the slopes of Mount Granero, under the slope that separates the Po valley from the French one of Queyras, at an altitude of 2882 meters. It is known to have been the first alpine tunnel ever built and represents one of the oldest civil engineering works completed in the high mountains.
At the time it was no small feat to drill the hard rocks of the Monviso chain, but the benefits for both sides would have been considerable. The undertaking, which began in the summer of 1479 after the snow melted, was completed in about 18 months by Italian workers, under the direction of the engineers Martino di Albano and Baldassarre di Alpeasco and with a total cost of 12,000 florins: it is said that iron, fire, vinegar and boiling water were used to dig the tunnel, but in just two years from the approval of the project the two sides of the Alps were, for the first time in history, connected by a tunnel.
Presented by Romano Pisciotti