This is an excerpt from the book “Aosta Valley Itineraries”.
An area offering excellent skiing facilities, poetic excursions and delectable cuisine. Of glacial origins, the Val d’Ayas, flowing through which is the Evancon river, has a distinctive U-shape. Full of rivers and streams, it’s green in summertime, warm and sun-kissed even during wintertime. Fields, woods and chestnut trees surround the small villages, where charming wooden homes make for an almost fairy-like atmosphere. Long sought out as a haven for important figures – from Toscanini to Fermi to Gozzano – this location is a little corner of paradise where the magical Monte Rosa mountain reign supreme.
From Verres to Brusson, the first part of the valley takes its name from the Challants, an ancient noble family, owners of vast tracks of land. Here one can visit the suggestive Graines castle, which was built in the 10th Century, while in the town of Challand-Saint-Victor, a hamlet of Vervaz, one can stop off to taste culinary delicacies at the Locanda ai Ponti Romani (+39 0125 967608).
This tiny, picturesque chalet will welcome you with high quality, traditional culinary treats. From mocetta to lardo di Arnad (excellent with honey) to polenta served with salignon (a traditional ricotta) to venison chops, the menu will satisfy even the most demanding palates.
Nestled in a green, grassy basin we find Brusson, of ancient Roman origins, which is now a favorite tourist destination among those who enjoy cross-country skiing. Every year, it holds the Coppa Consiglio Valle which attracts to the small town a great number of enthusiasts of this healthy, invigorating sport.
From Brusson and on, the valley takes on the name Ayas. Here we find charming villages characterized by groups of wooden homes called rascard and in Walser style (that is, in the style of the Germanic minority present since the Middle Ages in the Monte Rosa valley). Charming and well-kept, the village of Antagnod offers a splendid view of Monte Rosa. Here, one can admire the Church of St. Martin, which holds within it a splendid Baroque altar, among the very finest in the entire Valle d’Aosta area.
Starting out from the hamlet of Barmasc di Antagnod is a beautiful excursion of around three hours that leads visitors through fragrant woods and reaches Mt. Zerbion.
The undisputed heart of the entire valley is Champoluc, located at the place where the Cuneaz and Mascognaz valleys cross. It is elegant, colorful and lively (with movies, an amusement park and weekly open markets making every vacation festive).
Starting out from here are a great variety of excursions which allow visitors to admire the splendid nature that the valley has to offer. From the hamlet of Blanchard one can easily reach Lago Blu, a fascinating lake of glacial origins, while starting out from the Crest cableway one can reach the village of Mascognaz, made distinctive by its stone houses dating back to the 1600s.
Champoluc, which has always been a popular destination among expert skiers, offers modern facilities that make their way up the 2727 meters of the Bettaforca, in the heart of the Monterosa Ski slopes. From Crest, the ski lift facilities make their way to Mt. Sarezza at almost 3000 meters.
In addition to sports, strolls and fun, Valle d’Ayas offers traditional cooking with a great assortment of genuine dishes. There are many typical products to be tasted in the area’s charming little locande. Among these are the exquisite fontina cheese, the flower in the valley’s cap, and pierrade, a hearty dish made with meat, vegetables and cheese cooked and served on a sizzling hot stone. A fine location to enjoy this last specialty is the restaurant Petit Coq (+39 0125 307997), located in Villy.
Author: Giovanna Canzi
Courtesy of sanpellegrino.com
Where to stay in Brusson
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Where to stay in Champoluc
There are high quality hotels, guesthouses, apartments and B&Bs available, check them out and make a reservation here.