Regina Margherita Observatory

Alagna, Italy

Renovated in 1980

Located on top of the tallest peak in the Valsesia area of the Piedmont region, the Capanna Regina Margherita is the highest mountain refuge in Europe. It is equipped with a major weather station, a laboratory affiliated with the University of Turin, and other laboratories for medical and scientific research. The story of the Capanna Margherita began on 14 July 1889, when an assembly of CAI delegates approved the plan to build a refuge at 4554 metres.


Gino Anselmi, 1973 – Out of production


Joe Colombo, 2010

The refuge, with an impressive drop-off toward the valley, was mounted on the peak under an enormous assembly-line effort, and inaugurated on 4 September 1893. The month before, from 18 to 19 August, Queen Margherita of Italy spent the night at the refuge named after her. In 1899, a small tower was added for the weather station. In 1977, the Varallo section of the Club Alpino Italiano (CAI) fully renewed the Margherita refuge that had been constructed in 1893. The new structure was inaugurated on 30 August 1980. Back then, Olivari contributed the Cusio handles. Now, 40 years later, the company is reiterating the gesture.

This time, the Beta handle designed by the architect Joe Colombo was chosen – for several reasons: Its shape is functional to this setting for its rounded tip at the end of the handle, meaning it is safe and friendly to use.