Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso
Italy's oldest national park, the aptly named Gran Paradiso, was created in 1922 after Vittorio Emanuele II gave his hunting reserve to the state, ostensibly to protect the endangered ibex. The park preceded the rise of the modern ski resort; as a result, the area has so far resisted the lucrative lure of the mass tourist trade. Its tangible wilderness feel is rare in Italy.
One of Europe's most dramatic – and deadly – mountains, the Matterhorn (4478m) frames the head of Valtournenche. Byron once stood here and marvelled at 'Europe's noble rock'. Today he'd also get an eyeful of one of the Alps' most architecturally incongruous ski resorts, Breuil-Cervinia.