Pont-Saint-Martin – Donnas – Gressoney Valley

This is an excerpt from the book “Aosta Valley Itineraries”.

Pont Saint Martin - Photo © Gingio
Pont Saint Martin – Photo © Gingio

At Pont Saint Martin starting point of the Gressoney Valley, it is worth visiting the Roman bridge dating back to 1st cent BC. The town is dominated by the remains of a medieval castle. Also in Pont Saint Martin a historical Carnival takes place recalling the legend of “the satan bridge”.

2 kilometers further on you will come to Donnas, where a section of the Roman road to Gaul with an arch high more than 4 meters, cut in the rock is well preserved and where different DOC wines are produced.

Back to Pont Saint Martin following the road to Gressoney, the first village you encounter is Perloz, at 661m famous for the annual traditional feast of the so-called brown bread which takes place on the penultimate Sunday of July and the goat battle which takes place in November and for its parish church of San Salvatore which dates back to the 12th century.

Plan du Juc - Fontainemore - Photo © Anna Masiero
Plan du Juc – Fontainemore – Photo © Anna Masiero

Lillianes boasts a medieval bridge and the church of Saint Rocco with its 15th cent. stone bell-tower. A few km further on, Fontainemore surrounded by the woods, has a remarkable wooden bridge and in the area you can visit the Mont Mars nature reserve. In the village you can also admire the 17th cent. parish church of Sant’Antonio rebuilt on the ruins of the previous 15th century church.

After the ravine of Guillemore, you reach Issime whose 16th cent. parish church has a facade with the “Last Judgement” fresco.

It seems to be one of the first villages inhabited by the Walsers, the population of German origin who came from Valais in the 13th cent. and spread the dialect which is still spoken in the valley. At Gaby, on the other hand , a charming village evoked by the Italian poet Carducci a FrancoProvencal dialect is spoken.

Gressoney Saint Jean - Photo © littleelo
Gressoney Saint Jean – Photo © littleelo

When you follow the winding and picturesque road, you will arrive at Gressoney Saint Jean, at 1385m. An elegant summer and winter resort rich in culture and traditions; you can visit the Savoy Castle (summer residence of the queen Margherita now used for events, concerts and exhibitions), the Institute of Walser Studies and Culture (for groups interested in knowing the origin and traditions of the Walser ethnic group) and the Alpenfaunamuseum (alpine wildlife).

The parish church of San Giovanni rebuilt in 1725 on the foundations of a 16th cent. church and its museum deserve a visit.

This resort is the starting point of many spectacular excursions: the Ranzola pass to reach Brusson, the Pinter pass to reach Champoluc and the Loozoney Pass to Piedicavallo (Piedmont).

Gressoney La Trinite' - Photo © littleelo
Gressoney La Trinite’ – Photo © littleelo

At 1624m Gressoney La Trinite’, is a well-known alpine resort equipped and frequented for winter sports and climbs on the Monte Rosa massif. With the nearby valleys of Ayas and Alagna, the valley of Gressoney is one of the largest skiing areas in the Alps, the “Monterosaski”.

In Gressoney you can taste the local butter and the toma cheese, used to flavour the polenta. The typical costume of Gressoney is one of the more beautiful and rich of the valley and it is still worn for special events, for example the traditional processions of the 24th June and of the 15th August.

In Gressoney valley several picturesque Walser typical houses are scattered, called “rascard” in all Valle d’Aosta, wooden hay lofts raised up on stone and wood pillars in the shape of mushrooms, to keep mice and damp at bay.

Where to stay in Pont Saint Martin

There are high quality hotels and B&Bs available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Where to stay in Gressoney Saint Jean

There are high quality hotels, apartments, condo hotels and B&Bs available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Where to stay in Gressoney la Trinite

There are high quality hotels, apartments, condo hotels and B&Bs available, check them out and make a reservation here.