italiano deutsch espaniol
english francais japanese
caffe italiano club banner
banner banner

valle d'aosta

sponsored by


Region of the Valle d’Aosta

“In the beginning the mountain was enclosed in an immense range like a work of art enclosed within its uncut block of marble; the supreme artist had to work for thousands of years to sculpt its wondrous shape. The solitary Creator, content only with perfection, continued to sculpt this masterpiece with the tenacity of the tireless artist, to make it rise up so beautiful and grand.” These words from the climber and photographer Guido Rey perfectly describe the most extraordinary mountain in the Alps, the Matterhorn known in Italian as the Cervino, the imposing pyramid supported from behind by the Tyndall Peak (4241 metres!). In the shadow of the 4478 metres giant, there are crystalline Alpine lakes such as the Blue Lake near Cervinia, where visitors can bathe, surrounded by larch trees.
On one side of the mountain, to the north, there is Zermatt in Switzerland; to the south side there is Cervinia, in the Valle d’Aosta. The Oriondé is a perfect destination for anyone wanting to contemplate the mountain: it is one of the most beautiful walks, leaving from the cableway station of Plan Maison and leading to the Rifugio Duca degli Abruzzi, the Duke of the Abruzzi Refuge. Even more spectacular is the view from the Rifugio Teodulo looking towards the Grandes Murailles with the Cervino still absolutely dominant.
The Valle d’Aosta offers truly spectacular scenery: here nature is strong and uncontaminated, perfect for climbing and summer skiing but also for excursions and relaxing walks through meadows and woods. Gressoney-Saint-Jean, with the gem of a small 16th-century church at its centre, and with numerous stylish villas and the Museo della Fauna (the Fauna Museum), is an important winter tourist resort; as is Gressoney-la-Trinité, a fulcrum of the ancient Walser civilisation, as can be seen from the rascards, rural buildings made of wood and stone characteristic of the Valtournenche and especially of the Walser valleys.
The Valtournenche is a narrow and shady valley, but when visitors climb up its steep roads they find sunny meadows, pine forests, towns and hamlets. From Antey-Saint-André, where the Cervino comes into view for the first time, a road leads to La Magdeleine, a charming cluster of wooden houses set among meadows at an altitude of 1644 metres: in front of it there is a natural terrace on which stands another magnificent hamlet, Torgnon. Chamonis is the highest municipality in the Region, at 1816 metres. It has just a hundred inhabitants, and can only be reached on the cableway. Here the 14 kilometres of pistes, always sparkling in the sun, drop 700 metres through really spectacular scenery. Only a steel cable stretched over the abyss joins Chamonis to the real world: the cableway is thrillingly steep as it soars up and across. After just a few minutes from Buisson, looking down you already see the rascards and greniers emerging from their mantle of snow, which smoothes the sharp corners of the houses and barns. The little square in Chamonis does not have the feel of high society: the only noises are the crunch of snow underfoot, the swish of skis and mountain streams, the relaxed voices of the people there.
Local foods to savour include the delicious black bread with walnuts or figs. The typical sweets of the Region are the “tegole”, meaning “tiles” since their shape is reminiscent of the slate slabs that are used to roof the houses, and the Farinel, a ancient type of rye bread with raisins, almonds and walnuts. As for liqueurs, the characteristic local products are the Génépi and the Ratafià, an ancient drink obtained from an infusion of wild cherries. The king of Valle d’Aosta cheeses is Fontina, produced with milk coming from a single milking of the cows that are dappled red and black.
For lovers of local festas, the main event at Aosta is the thousand-year-old Fiera di Sant’Orso, the Fair of Saint Ours, held on 30 and 31 January: in the historic city centre about 1,000 exhibitors display the best of the Region’s crafts, among the famous “drap” from Valgrisenche (the woollen blanket woven on a wooden loom) and the lace from Cogne. One particular object worth buying is the “grolla”, the friendship cup. On the evening of the 30th there is the traditional “veillà” (the local name for a country fair), when the old cellars open up, creating a really picturesque atmosphere.
Just as picturesque is the Feast of the Alpine Guides in Courmayeur, at the foot of Mont Blanc, on 15 August, in which the Knights of the Mountain process with ice axes and crampons that have received a blessing.
The Region is also rich in castles, churches and abbeys. The mediaeval Fénis Castle, one of the most important, is decorated with an elegant cycle of frescoes. There is also a splendid castle at Issogne, a sumptuous Renaissance residence belonging to the powerful Challant family. It has a courtyard with very fine frescoes narrating scenes of popular life, and at the centre the famous 16th century Fontana del Melograno or Pomegranate Fountain. The Castle of Ussel has similar characteristics befitting a lordly dwelling.
At the entrance to the Valle d’Aosta, we see, clinging to the rock, the mighty structures of the Forte di Bard, the Bard Fortress. The building consists of various blocks and is imposing because of its massive fortifications. The Fortress houses the futuristic and enthralling Mueso delle Alpi, the Museum of the Alps. The Museum’s 29 rooms invite the visitor on an exciting journey through the mountains, beginning with an ascent of a steel and glass staircase which has a symbolic dimension, since it climbs up through projections of high altitude scenery, with a specially created sound track playing. The floor, with a reproduction of the Alps on it, creates an intriguing effect since it allows the visitor to “hike” through mountains and valleys.

For further information, click on:
Region of the Valle d’Aosta ENTER





© 2008 · italiano · deutsch · espaniol · english · francais · nihon-go · webdesign: claudia Krug