The Gran Paradiso group includes the only 4.000 meter summit entirely in Italian territory, that is the namesake summit that reaches 4.061 meters. According to an unlikely theory, also la Grivola (sung by the Italian poet Giosuè Carducci, winner of the 1906 Nobel prize for literature) formerly touched the height of 4.000m, before shrinking to the present 3.969 meters, due to a collapse of its summit spire.
Gran Paradiso is one of the most important groups of the Western Alps; in particular it belongs to Alpi Graie (Graian Alps). Its western and eastern boundaries are not exactly identified: the geological limits are generally placed West at Col del Nivolet (2.612m) and East at Col dell'Arietta (2.939m), whereas the debated geographical limits are placed West at Col di Rhemes or Punta Basei (3.338m), East at Rosa dei Banchi (3.164m) or Bec Pragelas (2.908m).
In the latter case, the borders coincide with the ones of Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso, the first Italian National Park instituted in the year 1922, approximately on the area that had been the Royal Hunting Preserve. King Vittorio Emanuele II had wanted the hunting preserve, in order to prevent the extinction of steinbock (Capra ibex) and chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra), of which he was an inveterate hunter.
Both group and park extend over Valle d'Aosta and Piemonte, whose border is just the ridge, belonging to the Gran Paradiso group and running from west to east. In Valle d'Aosta, a series of ranges developing in the south-north direction separates the different valleys; from the west the three principal valleys: val di Rhemes, Valsavarenche and valle di Cogne, which in turn originates Valnontey (that is the heart of the Group), Valeille, and the secondary valleys of Bardoney and Acque Rosse.
In the Piemontese sector, starting from Valle dell'Orco, the main valley of Ceresole Reale that runs from east to west, a series of secondary valleys originates, directed approximately northwards: the "valloni" of Soana, Campiglia, Forzo, Eugio, Piantonetto, Noaschetta, Gias della Losa, Goi, Ciamousseretto, Roc, all divided by ridges less imposing than the ones in the Valle d'Aosta sector.
Valle dell'Orco played a fairly important role in the history of rock climbing in Italy in the 1970s. Besides, in the Vallone del Piantonetto one can find fantastic gneiss on the Becco di Valsoera, Becco della Tribolazione and many other local summits, drops up to 700 m and all kinds of difficulties.