This is an excerpt from the book “Aosta Valley Itineraries”.
Aosta: The Rome of the Alps
Aosta, the capital of Valle d’Aosta, was founded by the Roman emperor Augustus in 25 B.C.. The small, picturesque town is laid out in a grid and no cars are allowed into the city center, making it the perfect place for a relaxing walk. As you stroll along the streets of Aosta, you may see some remains of public baths and municipal structures, but most of the Roman ruins are in the northeastern section of town.
The Arco d’Augusto (Arch of Augustus) is between the Porta Pretoria, which was the main entrance to the city in Roman times, and the bridge over the Buthier River. Further on is the well-preserved theater, an example of late Roman provincial architecture, where performances are still held. Nearby is the main cathedral, which has a neoclassical exterior and a Gothic interior with beautiful wooden choir stalls.
The Foro Romano is almost completely in ruins but there is a colonnaded walkway (called the criptoportico) and a tower (Torre dei Balivi). Unfortunately, since Aosta has always been a crossroads for travelers, many of the ancient artifacts were looted during the Middle Ages.
The town preserves interesting vestige of the Middle Ages, particularly the Church of Sant’Orso, The Romanesque cloister of St. Ursus in Aosta probably the most important monuments of the city. Inside stands the extraordinary Romanesque cloister storied, dating back to 1132. The church of SS Peter and Bear was repeatedly transformed in the course of its history.
On the remains of an early Christian basilica was built a new building in the Carolingian era, replaced in turn, during the eleventh century, a large Romanesque church with three naves, with the walls completely painted. Towards the end of the fifteenth century, by the will of the great patron George of Challant, the church underwent major changes designed to give the building a late Gothic appearance. In particular, the vaults were built, on top of which are still visible, exceptionally well-preserved Romanesque frescoes from the early eleventh century.
Among the many changes in the fifteenth century, stand the wooden stalls of the choir, a magnificent example of flamboyant Gothic sculpture. In the churchyard overlooking the massive tower of the twelfth century, which was originally a tower with a defensive function, the Priory, a rare example of the use of brick in Valle d’Aosta, a centuries-old linden tree, the little church of San Lorenzo, in the below which it is possible to visit an early Christian basilica of the fifth century, full of tombs including those of the first bishops of the diocese.
Where to stay in Aosta
There are high quality hotels, apartments, B&Bs and guesthouses available, check them out and make a reservation here.
Where to find typical products in Aosta
Zazy’s Gnam at Località Teppe, 28 – 11020 – Quart (Aosta) carries typical products from small local suppliers.