Valle d’Aosta – Aosta Valley

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

Winter in Aosta Valley
Winter in Aosta Valley – Photo © Donato Arcaro, touristic and naturalistic guide

A great deep furrow between the highest mountains in Europe, the Valle d’Aosta (Aosta Valley) is watered by the Dora Baltea River whose tributaries form picturesque lateral valleys: the Valtournenche, Val di Gressoney, Val d’Ayas, Valgrisenche.

Valle d’Aosta is a vertical region, you might say, and not just in the physical sense, for the many high peaks that surround it (including Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe at 4,807 meters), but also for the surprising concentration, in a region of such reduced dimensions, of so many natural splendors, of so many monuments, of so much precious historic and artistic heritage, of a density which evokes, in its vertical aspect, the crowding of skyscrapers in a metropolis where horizontal urban space is scarce and precious.

Castello di Cly
Castello di Cly – Photo © Donato Arcaro, touristic and naturalistic guide of the Aosta Valley

Aosta, the regional capital and the only province of the Valley, is a city rich in history. Traces of the ancient Augusta Pretoria (the Latin name of Aosta) can easily be seen, such as the great Arch of Augustus (25 B.C.) and the remains of the Roman Theatre.

For Aosta the Middle Ages were anything but dark: as an important center of commercial traffic with France and Switzerland, the city enjoyed a long period of prosperity. It is no coincidence that the Cathedral and Cathedral Church of S. Orso, two churches of great beauty, date back to the Middle Ages.

Aosta, well situated in the center of the valley, is the capital of this region which has enjoyed a certain degree of administrative authority since 1947. In addition to the pastoral activities of the mountain people and the iron mines at Cogne, the valley’s economy depends primarily on tourism which has developed as a result of the winter snow and the summer activities in the mountains.

Triatel – Photo © Donato Arcaro, touristic and naturalistic guide of the Aosta Valley

Other medieval monuments lie at the feet of the city: the castle of Fenis and, in the vicinity of Saint-Vincent, the location of a famous casino, the castle of Issogne, whose unusually rich frescoes and architecture confirm the prosperity of that time.

The natural landscapes of the Valley are fabulous: from the imposing peaks of Mont Blanc to the fascinating harshness of Cervino (4,478 meters), from the spectacular Monte Rosa, so called due to color assumed by its great glaciers at certain times, to the Gran Paradiso, the high mountain at the center of the huge Natural Park of the same name with over 200,000 hectares.

Valle d’Aosta: the holiday towns and ski resorts of the Valley are long-established and well-known: Courmayeur and Breuil-Cervinia are the most famous.

From Pont-St-Martin to Courmayeur the local population – essentially mountain people and shepherds – remain attached to their traditions and have retained their French family names. Many still speak French and other varied dialects.

Descent from the Aguille du Midi
Descent from the Aguille du Midi – Photo © Donato Arcaro, touristic and naturalistic guide of the Aosta Valley

Valle d’Aosta Itineraries:

  Aosta: the Rome of the Alps
  Castles and towers in the Valley

One day itineraries in Valle d’Aosta

  The lower valley and its Castles
  Sarre – Cogne Gran Paradiso Park
  Gran Paradiso Area
  St-Pierre Morgex/S.Carlo Pass La Thuille
  Pre-Saint-Didier – Courmayeur
  Aosta, Pila, Valpeline, Gr. St. Bernard
  Saint-Vincent, Chatillon, Breuil-Cervinia
  Verres – Ayas Valley – Joux Pass
  Pont-St-Martin, Donnas, Gressoney
  Bard Fortress

Courmayeur – Valdigne

  Funivie Monte Bianco
  The wine of Morgex and La Salle

Gran Paradiso Valleys

  Rheme Notre Dame
  Rheme Saint-George
  Saint Nicolas
  Saint Pierre

Gran San Bernard Valley:

  Saint Remy-en-Bosses
  Valpelline and Oyace
  Saint Oyen
  – La Via Francigena
  – Napoleone crossing the pass

Gressoney and its Valley

Val d’Ayas


  The Matterhorn Valley
  Breuil – Cervinia
  La Magdeleine

Valle d’Aosta general info

  Valle d’Aosta Artisans
  Battailes de reines
  Casino de la Vallee – Saint Vincent
  Caffe alla Valdostana
  Music and traditional folklore
  Patois dialect