Among the most impressive mountains in Europe, an extraordinary nature, dozens of castles, beautiful museums and medieval villages and numerous traces of the Roman Empire, the Aosta Valley is one of the regions of Italy (and the world) where to spend a few days of vacation in complete relaxation.
Despite being the smallest region of our country, tourist attractions are so many to be a favorite at any time of the year and not, as you might imagine, only in winter;
Just think that many people, due to the reckless increase in summer temperatures in recent years, have chosen the Aosta Valley as a solution, especially thanks to the well 7 peaks that exceed 4 thousand meters of altitude: We are talking about the Gran Paradiso, the Dente , the Grandes Jorasses, the Cervino, the Monte Rosa, and the <>a href=”/? p=82393″ data-type=”post” data-id=”82393″>Mont Blanc that, together,
Nature certainly contributes to make the Aosta Valley very attractive for lovers of trekking and high altitude excursions, but the region offers much more: are clear and evident the signs left by the Roman Empire from 25 BC, as well as numerous and immense medieval castles to be discovered. There are also gastronomic itineraries , marked by fondues, raclette, pierrade and, of course, genepy (or genepì), that is the characteristic herb liqueur that nobody is able to resist.
And there’s more: the territory is characterized by a dense network of paths and bike paths that allow visitors to walk among lakes and forests, while in winter skiers can dive among the snowy slopes of Pila, Cervinia, La Thuile and Courmayeur.
At the same time, the Aosta Valley hosts 10 nature reserves, including the natural park of Mont Avic and the famous Gran Paradiso Park; its valleys, then, as the Savaranche Valley, the Cogne Valley, the Veny Valley, Val Ferret, Val Tournanche and Val D’Ayas are crossed by famous rivers that, during their journey, cross ancient villages and medieval villages, all made of wood and stone and that, the various times of the year, host folk events and village festivals.
10 things not to be missed
The places to discover, the activities to do and the villages to visit are, in Valle d’Aosta, on the agenda; there are so many that listing them all would be really impossible, but there are at least 10 that, proving to be simply unique, deserve great attention. Here are the following:
Skyway Mont Blanc
Operational since 2015, the Skyway Mont Blanc has immediately conquered the hearts of visitors: it is an ultramodern cable car that leads tourists from Courmayeur on a panoramic terrace, located at an altitude of 3466 meters, to enjoy a breathtaking view!
The first stop is at the Pavillon du Mont Fréty, famous for its botanical garden, its restaurants and luxury shops; after that you reach the final station of Pointe Helbronner in the heart of the Mont Blanc massif, which houses inside the circular terrace with 14 meters in diameter and the most beautiful view of the world.
Mont Avic Natural Park
As mentioned initially, the natural places that characterize the Aosta Valley are really many, but one of them is among the unmissable stages: it is the Natural Park of Mont Avic, a little known but really beautiful destination that boasts over 5,747 hectares of land that extend between the valley of Champdepraz and the Champorcher Valley.
A hike in these areas allows you to admire pristine landscapes, alpine animals, forests, waterfalls and mountain lakes fascinating and suggestive.
Courmayeur Mont Blanc
For those who love cycling, Courmayeur Mont Blanc is the perfect destination: cycling and hiking, climbing, running, Nordic walking, fishing and rafting are just some of the activities that you can do in the pearl of the Upper Valdigne, open also to all those who prefer to walk breathing fresh and clean air, even in the company of children.
The town, in fact, winks to both families and cyclists and offers visitors over 500 bicycles (between muscle and e-bike) to fully enjoy the landscape and the panorama. Once on the mountain bike you can proceed independently or evaluate one of the many preset routes.
The Aosta Valley is also synonymous with art and culture, not only for the obvious imprint left by the Roman Empire, but also for the numerous castles and fortresses erected in the medieval period and still ruling over the entire territory. Among the most beautiful are without any doubt the castello di Fénis, the castello di Sarre, the castello di Savoia, the castello di Sarriod de La Tour (Saint-Pierre), the castle of Issogne and the castle of Verrès.
Do not miss a visit to the fortress of Bard, which is located inside the homonymous village and hosts dozens of cultural events, markets and art exhibitions of great interest. In addition, its walls also host the Museo delle Alpi, a cultural center that tells passers-by about the history and traditions of the village, rich in ancient buildings and precious decorations.
The thermal baths of Pré-Saint-Didier
Already famous in Roman times, Pré-Saint-Didier thermal springs are a natural source of healthy waters that allow tourists to relax and regenerate. The spa complex, in general, offers several modern facilities such as steam baths, mud baths, recreation rooms and panoramic views of the surrounding mountain range; Pré-Saint-Didier, in fact, is a small village that rises at the foot of Mont Blanc and that, As a result, it guarantees the center a charming and charming atmosphere.
Near Cogne you can admire the beautiful waterfalls of Lillaz, easily reached through a small hike on a flat path surrounded by mountain villages, trees, streams and natural creeks. The waterfalls are divided into three characteristic jumps of water for 150 meters high, blending perfectly with the natural landscape dug into the rocks.
The Blue Lake
Day trip? Here is the ideal solution: a walk in Val D’Ayas with destination the Blue Lake of Cervinia! It is a crystal clear topaz-coloured body of water that, because of its arrangement, reflects the image of Monte Cervino. The result? A spectacular and breathtaking image! You can get there via a small excursion also designed for families since, once you arrive on site, you can enjoy a picnic in an atmosphere of total relaxation and well-being.
Sanctuary of Notre-Dame de Guérison
Near Courmayeur is the sanctuary of Notre-Dame de Guérison (Our Lady of Healing), precisely perched on the rocky slope of the Val Veny at 1,440 meters above sea level. Since the seventeenth century it has been considered a mystical and divine place hidden in the mountains, so much so that every year it welcomes a large number of devout climbers and hosts religious celebrations with a strong spirituality.
La Salle and Col de Bard
Between Courmayeur and Aosta is located La Salle, a small village characterized by enchanting views that offer a preferential look at the sunset on Mont Blanc. From the upper area of the village start several excursions, including the one on Col de Bard: consists of a walk of about two hours between larches and fir trees, through the village of Arpelles and with panoramic views of Mont Blanc, Valdigne and Gran Paradiso.
At the foot of Mont Blanc is the beautiful Val Ferret, a fixed stop for those who decide to visit the Aosta Valley in winter. Surrounded by extraordinary peaks, such as the Dente del Gigante, the Grandes Jorasses, the Aiguille de Triolet and Mont Dolent, the valley offers many excursions to do on foot or by mountain bike and, for the most passionate, ski resorts for cross-country skiing.
The museums of Aosta
In Aosta it is possible to organize a holiday of art and culture thanks to the numerous museums that are scattered around its territory and that, each in its own way, tell stories, traditions and values of such a small region, how rich in treasures to discover!
Here are the main ones:
– Museo Archeologico Regionale della Valle d’Aosta (MAR): first a convent and then a barracks, the museum collects numerous archaeological finds found throughout the region. Built where once stood the Porta Principalis Sinistra, of Roman times, it houses the paintings of the Challant family and the coat of arms of the Savoy;
– Treasure Museum of the Cathedral: you can visit it inside the Cathedral of Aosta and contains several works of religious character. Among the undisputed masterpieces are the late-Roman ivory diptych of Anicio Probo, the remains of the monumental tombs of the fifteenth-century Stephen and the international gothic goldsmiths of Jean de Malines;
– Museo del Tesoro di Sant’Orso: inside the Church of Sant’Orso, this museum collects very important objects of the goldsmith’s work of the 14th and 15th centuries. Among the most important are the case-reliquary of Sant’Orso in silver and the missal of the sixteenth century by Giorgio di Challant;
– Centre Saint-Bénin: built as a Benedictine abbey around the year 1000, today hosts exhibitions dedicated to modern and contemporary art both national and international.
The Aosta Valley menus are rich in cheeses, salami and wines; thanks to its territory and the climate determined by the presence of the Alps, in fact, you can cultivate the vine and breed cattle and goats of fine breeds, able to provide the right ingredients (as well as healthy and genuine) for the preparation of the best typical dishes.
The fontina and the fonduta are among the region’s must cheeses, followed by the soupe alla valpellineintze, the Vallée d’Aoste Fromadzo (sweet when eaten fresh, slightly salty when aged) and from salignön (a kind of spicy ricotta with a creamy consistency).
The most valuable meats include ibex (sometimes dried), bovine (the so-called motzetta), chamois or deer.
Among the most renowned wines, however, here is the Vallée d’Aoste Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle, produced in the vineyards of Mont Blanc. Among the reds stands the Vallée d’Aoste Chambave Rouge, with a dry and firm taste, while the liqueur par excellence is the Genepy. It should be noted that Valdostan viticulture is very varied and the denomination of Controlled Origin D.O.C “Valle d’Aosta – Vallée d’Aoste” is represented by 7 sub-denominations of Zone and 19 sub-denominations of Vine. Local wines, in fact, have significant recognition both nationally and abroad.
When to go to Aosta Valley
Thanks to the presence of the mountains that surround the territory, the climate of the Aosta Valley is typically continental: the summer is slightly warm and ventilated, with an average temperature of 25,while the winter is quite rigid and snowy. At the same time, spring and autumn last relatively little but, on the other hand, rainfall is scarce.
The best times to take into account to choose when to visit can be suggested by the rich calendar of events that the region offers to tourists: first of all “the Millennial”, so called because it takes place since the year 1000 and includes the famous Fiera di Sant’Orso held on 30 and 31 January.
In August, however, there is the Foire d’été, a collection of the best of local crafts, from wrought iron objects to leather, through the achievements in wood, wicker and fabric.
At the end of September, finally, the Désarpa, that is the “descent from the pastures”: in practice, the herds of cows come down from the pastures given the end of summer and the event is shared with the whole population!
To top it off, even children can have fun: the Adventure Park in Pila is perfect for climbing and literally jumping into the void, thanks to Tibetan bridges, walkways on trunks and cable cars, While the giocAosta (which takes place in August) is ideal for anyone who loves board games, logic and role playing (regardless of age).