Galleria dei Saraceni (Seguret)

Alta Valsusa, in spring the Saracen gallery reopens


A few years ago, on these pages, I would recite the de profundis for the Seguret gallery (or the Saracens) and the military route 79 of the Pramand. It had just been closed to transit by the Turin Military Engineers Command, because it threatened to crash, with serious damage to the transit of cars, motorcycles or pedestrians. There was the threat – real, it was not just a rumor – that the military, then owners of the rolling stock, wanted to close the tunnel forever by making it shine with the mines. Thus protecting itself from any responsibility.

However, not only one of the most beautiful military roads of the Western Alpine arc would have disappeared, but also a great testimony to the history of our valley.

Fortunately, this did not come true. Thanks to the courage and effort of the three municipal administrations of Salbertrand, Oulx and Bardonecchia and the tenacious work of the Forestry Consortium of the Upper Valle di Susa, which first acquired the ownership of the rolling stock from the State Property Office and then promoted and financed the restoration work, from October 2018 the tunnel and the road have been set up and, from the spring of this year, will be reopened to transit.

To take stock of the situation, but also to raise awareness of the assets we have on the territory, the 515th Batteria Monte Chaberton Association and the Municipality of Oulx have promoted a meeting dedicated precisely to the reopening of the Saracen Gallery and to History and Tourism between Pramand and Seguret, which was held on January 3rd in the consulting room of Oulx.

The meeting, moderated by Ottavio Zetta, saw a large public participation: it is a confirmation of how much the need to know and protect the historical and naturalistic heritage of our mountains is felt, also in order to increase tourism. After the introduction of the deputy mayor of Oulx Paolo Maria Terzolo, who took stock of the work of rearranging the tunnel and the rolling stock, particular attention was given to the story: my speech, focused on the defensive settlement of the upper valley between Nineteenth century and the Great War, opened the evening. So Eugenio Garoglio, young promise of research, has led the public to discover the secrets of the battery Pramand, which stands right on the top of the same name, overlooking the plain of Oulx. A relationship between history and technique, which, thanks to Eugenio’s informative ability, did not fail to arouse interest in the present, especially in the evocative images of the era and in the events of the last world war. Alessia Maria Giorda then spoke about the “women in war”, figures that have always been neglected in military affairs, but who have played important roles, especially in the wake of men in arms. Not only cross-nurses, but also vivandiere, portatrici, wives and femmes de plaisir …

In the second part of the meeting, Massimo Garavelli, President of the Forestry Consortium of the Alta Valle di Susa, described in detail the recovery interventions of the Seguret Tunnel and the Pramand rolling stock 79, testifying the commitment of the three municipal administrations and consortium for the restoration of artifacts, but also to keep them always accessible, taking care of their maintenance. There will also be, as desired by many parties, a regulation of transit on the road, a regulation that will refer to the one already used on the Assietta road, but coordinated, so as to allow everyone to climb on Pramand and Jafferau.

Finally, Diego Drago, a mountain bike enthusiast and known tour operator, took us for a ride on the Pramand rolling stock and, thanks to the evocative photographs of Gaetano Caputi, allowed us to discover some glimpses a bit different from the usual: great impression has been given to the images of the ice columns that obstruct the Seguret tunnel during the winter and which prevent its passage.

At the end of the beautiful evening, the audience, who followed with intense participation – applause, does not happen often! – was able to see some finds of the Alpine Vallo and of the Guardia alla Frontiera uniforms kindly made available by Alessandro Rebola.