The Tour of Mont-Blanc

The Casermetta through the centuries

The events that have occurred at the Casermetta are an important part of the long history of Col de la Seigne, which has been a gateway to the Aosta Valley since ancient times, a place passed through by people and goods going to and from France.
The place name is both ancient and of uncertain origin. The medieval terms Mons Senae, Collium de Senia and Alpis Seniae can be linked to Colle del Segnale (Signal Hill), whilst the Celtic word "sange" means boggy ground, which is found further down the valley, in the Lake Combal region.

Col de la Seigne, a pass known as far back as Roman times, continued to be used throughout the Medieval period. This was when its current name came into common use. The favourable climatic conditions during this era meant that mountain passes at high altitudes could be used for a large part of the year.
However, it was not until 1863 that the Tour of Mont Blanc, and above all Col de la Seigne, was given pride of place in the tales of English tourists and mountaineers. John Ball, President of the Alpine Club, expressly mentioned Col de la Seigne, considering it one of the most scenic places on the route, which "always makes this part of the tour extremely interesting for real nature-lovers".

The history of the Casermetta
The Casermetta at Col de la Seigne bears witness to a period in which the relationship between the nations on either side of the Alps was rather strained. In fact, it used to be an outpost on the border between Italy and France, constantly watched over by garrison troops.
During the 1930s, in a period of increased international tension, the Mont Blanc region was used for spectacular military drills, with troops practising at high altitudes. Col de la Seigne's darkest moment came in World War II, when an attack on France, already defeated by Nazi Germany, was carried out by Italian troops in the region. The remains of firing points and fortifications can still be seen today throughout the area.
After the war, the history of Casermetta finally took a turn for the better. In winter 1945, a group of aspiring ski instructors met, under the direction of Francis Salluard, to resurrect the Scuola di Sci Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc Ski School). They faced serious obstacles, with few funds and no ski equipment. But the trainees managed to appropriate the white skis, made of ash wood, which had been abandoned by the German army at Col de la Seigne during their hasty retreat on 25th April.

Today Col del la Seigne and the Casermetta, rediscovered after years of neglect, have become a meeting point for all those who, sharing the spirit of adventure of the first travellers, want to discover this wonderful part of the Alps.