AOSTA VALLEY REGION
“The most impressive mountains of Europe”
The most impressive mountains of Europe are the background of countries and pastures. In Aosta Valley there are six peaks over 4 thousand meters above sea level : the Gran Paradiso , the Giant’s Tooth , the Grandes Jorasses , the Cervino , the Monte Rosa and the Mont Blanc ( the highest peak in Europe) . In general, although it is the smallest region in Italy , Aosta Valley offers tourists a rich heritage , both from a cultural point of view and from that nature. It is a land that keeps alive their traditions , local food and wine productions and old festivals, emphasizing – at the same time – a wonderful nature, dotted with castles . It is fascinating to stroll around the meadows of the region and be suddenly in front of the towers of some mighty castle. The Roman Empire from 25 A.C has left its mark on the land and the contrast between ancient ruins and snowy mountains is truly unique . And then there are the museums , churches and medieval villages, of which the region has plenty to be discovered little by little , allowing himself from time to time, stopping to taste the delicious flavors and typical of the mountain , including full-bodied cheese fondues , raclette and stone-grill , concluding with a hot coffee cocktail: brandy , cognac, lemon zest , sugar and spices.
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Aosta. It is often described as an ancient area of Rome in the Alps . And rightly so , because wandering in the center of Aosta is like dive Roman times . Founded in 25 a.C by Augustus, 3000 soldiers of the Praetorian short , from which its derive the name Augusta Praetoria Salassorum , preserves the Roman urban form of a rectangle bounded by walls, within which extend perpendicular streets . Do not miss a visit to the Roman Theatre in the Rue du Baillage , built in the first half of the first century A.C in Augustan age , with the high side (22 meters) and the auditorium , which is the remains of the terraces arranged in a semi-circle that housed the spectators. But among the monuments not to be missed , there are also the Porta Pretoria (Via Porta Pretoria ) , built a time in marble , the Arch of Augustus , built after the defeat of the Salassians by Rome , and the monumental complex of Sant ‘ Orso, the largest medieval sacred complex of the Western Alps , the most famous in Europe, with splendid Ottonian frescoes (XI cent . ) in the attic of the collegiate chirch . Do not think , however, Aosta as an ancient city only ; in fact it is very vital , and an university centre . A short walk from the center, Via delle Gallie runs through the ‘Aosta Valley and allow trades with countries beyond the Alps. On this ancient road , the view more impressive is given by the arc of Donnas , carved into the cliff face of the bare rock.
80% of the Aosta Valley is 1,500 meters above sea level. Here there are the highest mountains in Europe : Mont Blanc( 4810 m) , Monte Rosa ( 4634 m) , the Matterhorn ( 4478 m) and the Gran Paradiso ( 4061 m) , in addition to the oldest national park in Italian ( together the National Park of Abruzzo ) : the National Park of Gran Paradiso , which stretches between Piedmont and the Aosta Valley in an area of 70.318 hectares. In 1856, King Victor Emmanuel II , to protect the ibex from extinction , declared a royal hunting park , and in 1920 Victor Emmanuel III donated to the Italian State . Near the park of Gran Paradiso is also the Mont Avic Natural Park , a protected area that containd landscapes, where it is not uncommon to spot ibex , chamois and marmots. A mountain region that respects, can not but have its glaciers: in the Aosta Valley there are more than 300. In addition, the main valley of the region is crossed by one of the most important tributaries of the Po’ river , the Dora Baltea . Two main steps leading into Switzerland and France over the Alps , respectively , the Great St. Bernard Pass and the Little St. Bernard , closed in winter due to snow and ice . To cross the border there are two highway tunnels , the tunnel of Mont Blanc ( 12 km) , arriving in France, and the Great St. Bernard (6 km ) in Switzerland.
Each month,in Aosta Valley , festivals and food and wine events are an opportunity to celebrate hams, honey and fruit. The apple, for example, is the protagonist of two autumn festivals: The Apple Festival in Gressan and Melevallée in Antey-Saint-André. Apples in different ways: jellies, jams, cider, cakes. In Gressan there is also the race of apples, where a jury awards the best local produce. In July celebretaded the Vallée d’Aoste Jambon de Bosses, the prestigious DOP raw ram: with four days of music and cabaret shows, dinners and food and wine. The last day, stalls and stands selling the not be found Aosta Valley ham . In October, the beautiful medieval village of Bard, holding the Marché au Fort, a festival and showcase of local products tasting and sales: all the streets of the town become the theater of the local tradition, which is nice to hear the producers reveal the secrets gourmet. The Fair of Saint Orso is held every January 30 and 31 in Aosta, continuously from year one thousand (this is called the “millenarian”). It is an event not to be missed: thousands of stalls showcasing the Aosta Valley crafts in all its splendor. for the occasion, are set up special trains connecting Turin to Aosta Station. They are also arranged music performances and offered glasses of “mulled wine”. Do you want to take flight over the snowy mountains the highest in Europe? Just go to the Charbonnier Hot Air Balloon Rally, held each year in Aosta February 10 to 14 .
HOW TO GET
By Car-It is the best way to reach the Aosta Valley: from northern Italy can be reached trough the A5 motorway. Turin is a hundred kilometers , Rome 771 and 186km from Milan. Always from Milan must take the A4 and take the link to Santhià to join the A5 towards Aosta. From Rome and Naples on the other hand you can take the A1 to Milan and then follow the A4 . To reach other towns and villages driving directions will suffice.
By Train- The railways link Aosta with the main stations in Turin. From Milan you have to make a change at Chivasso and in some cases even in Ivrea . From Roma Termini you have to get to Milan or Turin, then take the regional train to Aosta . From the capital of the Aosta Valley,the line Aosta-Pré -Saint-Didier reach the spa town of Pré -Saint-Didier in about 50 minutes with several stops . From Aosta , also , in less than an hour you also get to Bard, Saint Vincent and Verrès .
By Bus- There are buses that make daily connections to Aosta from Milan and Turin. In summer there are also other lines that link the city of Valle d’Aosta and Liguria , Emilia Romagna and Tuscany.
By Plane- The only airport in the Aosta Valley is Corrado Gex located just outside Aosta. It is a popular private plane open to tourism and trade . The French airline Air Vallée makes the route to and from Angers, in the center of France , on a weekly basis . From the other Italian cities must rely airport of Turin Caselle Airport, which is 115 km from Aosta.
Just across the border in Aosta Valley , sprout on the slopes of the mountains the castles . Towers , gates, walls and battlements . In Aosta Valley there are castles of all ages, primitive , medieval or sixteenth century . Among the most beautiful , Fenis castle , masterful example of military and civilian of the fourteenth century , belonged to the family Challants . Today, the outside looks like a powerful and austere structure, but the interior stands out for its sophistication . Another famous castle is that of Saint- Pierre , past, over the centuries, from a noble family to another and changed in style and structure . The last transformation dates back to 1800 , designed by Baron La Costa , who added romantic turrets – decadent similar to those of the castle of Ludwig of Bavaria. The castle of Ussel , nearby Châtillon , has a rectangular plan and is an example of a monoblock castle. In medieval times, was later used as a prison before they were abandoned . After the restoration has created a pedestrian path which leads to a beautiful view over the plain of Châtillon. A real castle ,the Savoia Castel : here he spent his summers Queen Margaret , once a widow of King Umberto I. The five towers and neo-Baroque decorations remember those of the Palazzo Reale in Turin and the Quirinale in Rome , designed by the same architect ( Emilio Stramucci ) . Fort Bard , finally, was built strategically to the Aosta Valley to defend the whole region, is a symbol of all the Aosta Valley Region. This military fortress proved to be effective with the arrival of Napoleon ( 1800). The Napoleonic army took two weeks to overcome the defense of the fort , subsequently dismantled. Carlo Felice rebuilt it in 1830 and has now been elected as the new cultural center of the Western Alps , with a rich program of exhibitions and events.
TRADITIONS AND FOLKLORE
A kind of bullfighting, but in sauce alpine: La Bataille de Reines is a manifestation shooting every Sunday during the summer in some countries in Aosta Valley , then moved – to the end –to the Arena Croix Noire Aosta . The show is a struggle between two Aosta Valley’s cows, spotted black and chestnut , which seek to prevail for dominance of the herd ( neither cows died , the appointment is a pure feast for the inhabitants). From the battle of cows to that of goats ( tchevre in patois ,in the local language ) : la Bataille de Tchevre pits two goats ; the winner gets the tchambis ( collars handmade and a bell ) . Then there is the Carnival, eagerly awaited in the city of Verres , with parades in ancient costumes , party in the castle on the mountain, singing and dancing. Every year you can relive the history of the lady of the castle “friend of the people” , Catherine of Challants , who with her husband joined the dances of the common people . Today as yesterday, the crowd welcomed with “Vive Introd et Madame de Challants .” Carnival is also beloved in Pont -Saint-Martin , which grants Salassians defeated by the Romans, the possibility of a rematch in a ” chariot race ” . Then takes life the legend of the nymph of the Lys , the river of the city, the nymph (now played by a young lady ) would try to destroy the Pont-Saint -Martin with a big wave , but pity by the prayers of the people would then spared. On the evening of Shrove Tuesday is burnt the effigy of the devil. Famous, also the carnival at Coumba Freida : the costumes of the show ( landzette ) evoke the passage of Napoleon in the nineteenth centuary, although according to others would be due to the unusual disguise of the inhabitants of the country in honor of the marriage of the elderly and poor couple. Who wears the landzette also puts a wooden mask , holding in hand the hair of a horsetail and wears at the waist a bell to ward off the adverse spirits . Located in Saint Denis , finally there is the feast of the mistletoe , which is important in the Celtic tradition : today is an organized market before Christmas with medieval cookery , music and traditional Irish, Scottish and Breton dance. At the end of the festival, the awards of the most beautiful mistletoe , a candlelight vigil, and pyrotechnical music entertainment.
The meats are the highlight of Aosta Valley . Really tasty is the motzetta , or moccetta , meat ( cattle, horses or suede ) dried after being flavored with spices and herbs of the mountains. Among the most popular meat , there are also the one ibex,the sausages of each country and each family has a recipe (impossible choose the best) . The Jambon de Bosses ( raw ham Bosses ) is a PDO product and the small town of Saint-Rhémy- en-Bosses, it is the first manufacturer : here the climate is particularly dry and windy , so the meat is not hard to dry out naturally . It is not easy to find on the market , it has become a niche product for the prestigious designation DOP . The Arnad lard is a product of Aosta Valley PDO , brined with herbs and aged in the traditional doil ( wooden boxes ) . On the last Sunday of August is held in Arnad the Féhta dou lar , food festival of this famous product. After the meats , cheeses . Aosta Valley is famous for the many types of cheese products, among them the fotina, enjoyed alone , over pasta , in fondue and gnocchi . The Vallée d’Aoste Fromadzo depending on his seasoning changes its flavor ( semi-sweet when eaten fresh , slightly salty flavor when ripe) ; also famous Salignön , a kind of spicy cottage cheese . The Bleu d’Aoste is a soft cheese made from milk from farms located above 700 meters above sea level (which won the gold medal at the Mountain Cheese Olympics in 2005) . Another typical product of these valleys is the honey : hundreds and hundreds of kinds of flowers , fresh air and no pesticides make the Aosta Valley the perfect habitat for bees and their production of ” mountain wildflower honey .” The local bread is called pan nér Aosta Valley , for its dark color due to the use of rye and oats ( in ancient enriched with chestnuts, walnuts and dried figs during the celebrations of the country). The white Vallée d’Aoste Blanc de Morgex and La Salle is instead produced in the vineyards of Mont Blanc, the highest in Europe. . Among the reds , there is the Vallée d’Aoste Chambave Rouge, dry and decide wine , while Genepy is the liquor more characteristic of the region.
The friendship cup can not miss among the souvenirs of the Aosta Valley. It is a bowl carved wood and decorated by hand and has the distinction of having several spouts from which you drink à la ronde,in turn. Usually in the friendship cup you drink Valdaostan coffee,spiced coffee and grappa.Another object of Aosta Valley worship hand carved wood is the grolla,much like the friendship cup,but from a less flattened.Today the grola(so famous by naming a major journalism award,the “Golden Crolle”) is kept in homes as ornaments or jewelery box. The term comes from graal,”cup” in d’oil Language. Wood crafts,widespread in these valley,creates eagles,recurrent among figure and alpine animals,carved with precision.Always in wood,the many acient work tools:ladders,barrels,rakes. Among stalls and markets jump out the beautiful and confortable valdostane baskets,woven with willow branches or walnut,of all sizes.In stores you can find a very considerable variety of shoes or boots in lather.In some countries are still made the sock(slippers from home made with different pieces of cloth),warm and very comfortable. A tip: take advantage of the millennial Sant’Orso Fair of Aosta,January 30 and 31,to find the best pieces of Aosta Valley craft.
DID YOU KNOW THAT..
The inventor of the telephone is from Aosta Valley? Forget Meucci and Bell, pride of place to Innocent Manzetti, born in Aosta in 1826, who invented the first device capable of transmitting voice and sounds from a distance. What he called the “vocal telegraph” was built in the fifties of the nineteenth century, and the invention of Meucci was born in 1871, while Bell have to wait even 1876. The sensational discovery of Manzetti had international prominence thanks to European newspapers and Americans who published the news, but the inventor and his “telegraphic speech” fell into obscurity