Aosta Valley. The real heart of the Italian Alps.
If you want to rediscover lost emotions, Aosta Valley will impress you with extraordinary landscapes, it will conquer your palate with products of the highest quality and fascinate you with its ancient history.
Bordering on France and Switzerland, surrounded by some of the highest peaks in Europe, Valle d’Aosta region is the heart of the western Italian Alps.
On its natural horizon you can easily recognize 4 peaks that are well-known to mountaineers: Mont Blanc (4,810 m) the highest mountain in the Alps, the Matterhorn (4,478 m) with its characteristic pyramid shape, Monte Rosa (4,634 m) the second highest mountain in the Alps and the Gran Paradiso (4,061 m), the only 4,000-meter peak entirely located in Italy.
Aosta Valley has a natural heritage of rare beauty, several protected areas and 2 parks, the famous Gran Paradiso National Park, which turns 100 years old in 2022, and the Mont-Avic Nature Park. The region is a true paradise for skiing and snowboarding, hiking, climbing, mountain biking and many other outdoor activities.
Aosta, the capital of the region, is known as the “Rome of the Alps” for its well-preserved monuments from the Roman era, while castles, towers and fortresses have become a distinctive element of the landscape since the Middle Ages.
In Aosta Valley following in the footsteps of history
Aosta Valley is not only mountains and nature, but it is also history and art, which are manifested through an extraordinary concentration of evidence of the past ranging from the megalithic monuments of prehistory in Saint-Martin-de-Corléans to the remarkable vestiges of Roman times that can be admired in Aosta and in various locations in the central valley all the way up to the Piccolo and Gran San Bernardo passes.
The Consular Road of the Gauls, built by the Romans in the 1st century BC, follows the path of the Dora Baltea and is still visible and walkable for several sections, but above all in Donnas where a picturesque arch cut into the rock is visible.
Let yourself be captivated by the charm of the more than 100 medieval castles, towers and fortresses transformed several times over throughout the times, to become Renaissance residences, but also by the atmosphere of the Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque churches, rich in sculptures, altars and frescoes, located throughout the region.
Do not forget the traditional architecture of the rural houses in wood and stone, which characterizes so many villages and denotes the landscape in an unmistakable way.
Aosta Valley: outdoor emotions.
If you love downhill skiing, in Aosta Valley you can ski in 19 stations with 800 kilometers of slopes, not to mention the exciting off-piste itineraries that can be reached by ski lifts or by helicopter from the heliski bases. And on the slopes at the foot of the Matterhorn you can also ski in the summer!
When the white of the snow gives way to the colors of the extraordinary nature in Valle d’Aosta, anywhere in the region you can choose between hiking or trekking for several days on trails of every difficulty, and you can stop over in the numerous refuges and bivouacs at high altitudes.
You can also travel part of the ancient Via Francigena or you can choose the Cammino Balteo, a circular excursion itinerary almost 350 km in length, which extends mainly along the valley line and on the slopes of a medium altitude and it is therefore practicable during most of the year.
If, on the other hand, you prefer high altitudes, the Alte Vie are for you: step by step, you will admire landscapes that are unique in the world as well as imposing peaks such as Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn, Monte Rosa and the Gran Paradiso, with their more than 4,000 meters of height.
If you practice road cycling, here you will find many scenic routes, from the most accessible, along the cycle paths of the valley line, among vineyards and castles, to the most demanding, which will lead you to climb the great Alpine passes by bicycle. Valle d’Aosta is also a privileged destination for mountain bike enthusiasts who will find tracks for cross-country, downhill and freeriding available to them.
And if all this is not enough for you, you can organize horseback riding, rafting along the waters of the Dora Baltea, hot air balloon rides or spend an adrenaline-full day climbing the rock faces, along the vie ferrate (routes fitted with iron cables or steps), or in adventure parks.
Aosta Valley: the taste of alpine tradition
Aosta Valley regional cuisine is simple but traditional, made up of genuine, creative and authentic flavors. Cheeses, wines, lard, honey, fruit, alpine herbs … Valle d’Aosta region has been able to preserve the aromas and flavors of the mountains and the millenary art of combining them. There are many opportunities for a gastronomic holiday in Valle d’Aosta to discover its traditional products.
Over time, the people of Valle d’Aosta have become very skilful in preserving food: not only in preparing jams and preserves, but also in the aging of cheeses and in the processing of meats for family needs.
The region is in fact renowned for the quality of its cured meats and local meat which gives rise to specialties such as carbonada, a stewed dish based on beef with wine, onions and spices.
Lard d’Arnad DOP is a Valle d’Aosta specialty often combined with black bread and honey or chestnuts. The layers of pork lard are placed in “doils“, which are old chestnut or oak wood containers, and alternated with a mixture of salt, water, spices and aromatic mountain herbs. It is such an ancient method that already in the first inventory of the castle of Arnad, dated 1763, there is mention of four “doils” present in the kitchen.
Jambon de Bosses DOP, produced in the area bordering on Switzerland, is a raw ham flavored with juniper berries, thyme and mountain herbs that is aged for at least one year. This ham is the star of the festival that takes place every summer in Saint-Rhémy-en-Bosses.
Also to be tasted are pork and beef-based sausages, black puddings and motzetta, dried beef, venison or the meat from goats, chamois, or wild boars.
Equally famous are the cheeses, including the product that is a symbol of Valle d’Aosta, the Fontina DOP, which gives rise to dishes such as Valle d’Aosta fondue and the baked soup made with cabbage, Fontina and bread, the “Seupa à la Vapelenentse“, typical of Valpelline. Here you can visit the museum devoted to the Fontina and also the spectacular aging caves carved into the rock, one of which was an ancient copper mine, where the round forms win over their sweet and inimitable flavor.
The “Route des vignobles alpins” (route of the vineyards) is an itinerary for visiting the wine cellars that reveals the specialties and qualities of mountain wines and allows you to discover their characteristics and combinations with local products.