Perennially whitewashed by the snow and set like a pearl between France and Switzerland, the Aosta Valley can be reached on the Italian territory from the South East, through Piedmont.
Modeled by ancient glaciers and surrounded by some of the highest mountains in Europe, it is known for its peaks over 4000 meters high: Matterhorn, Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa and Gran Paradiso. Courmayeur and Cervinia are among the most important ski resorts where you can ski even in summer or play golf at 2000 meters. Do not miss the ascension to the rooftop of Europe, thanks to the ultra-modern Skyway Monte Bianco cable car. This attraction starts at 1,300 meters at Courmayeur (Pontal d’Entrèves) and rises up to 3,466 meters at Punta Helbronner: a 360 ° fascinating journey to the rooftop of Europe.
Even today, traveling along the Valle, the function of bulwark and defense preserved for centuries can be clearly seen: a dense geographical quilted map of numerous medieval manors and mighty fortified castles. Scattered in just over 3000 square km, they almost appear to be one with the nature that surrounds them, making the landscape even more suggestive.
Ancient roads lead to the discovery of the primitive and defensive manors of the 11th-12th centuries or those with increasingly residential features built from 1300 onwards. They can be reached by car, bicycle, horseback, or even aboard nice carriages. These are the castles of Arnad, Bard, Issogne, Pont-Saint-Martin, Verrès in the Lower Valley. Those of Chatillon, Fénis, Nus, Quart, Saint-Denis, Saint-Marcel lie in the Central Valley. Aymavilles, Introd, La Salle, Morgex, Saint-Pierre, Sarriod de la Tour, Sarre, Savoy Castle can be found in the Upper Valley.
In the deep north and in the heart of the valley, we find the unmissable Aosta, the ancient Augusta Praetoria founded in the first century BC by the Romans, who in 500 years of domination left traces still striking and evocative today for those who cross the mighty Roman Bridge and reach the square dominated by the Arch of Augustus. They can be evidenced for those who come across the Porta Praetoria to reach the Roman Theater with its surviving south facade 22 meters high, or for those visiting the Forum and its singular and fascinating Cryptoporticus.
Walking through time, you can admire the evocatively marked testimonies of almost five millennia of history, from the final moments of the Neolithic to the present day. Inside the megalithic area, one of the most interesting archaeological sites in Europe found in 1969. An outdoor sanctuary intended for the cult of the living, took on funeral functions in the last centuries of the third millennium BC. Hosting at least 24 wooden totem poles oriented from North East to South West was then replaced by more than 46 imposing anthropomorphic steles, the first true manifestation of megalithism in this area, refined masterpieces of prehistoric statuary.
Excursions, well being and relaxation
The colorful excursions between castles and archaeological city walks in the Valley alternate with breaks of well-being and relaxation. Ancient roots characterize the devotion to health and body care. Among enchanted scenarios in every season of the year, in the Valley there are the Saint-Vincent spas, with a curative vocation since the eighteenth century, flanked by a modern wellness center. The Pré-Saint-Didier spas, already known in Roman times, where even under a heavy snowfall, you can relax outdoors in the natural setting of great beauty of the garden. It is blessed with three outdoor thermal pools and saunas in wooden huts with panoramic views of the Mont Blanc chain. For an alternative evening, the fun is at the Casino de la Vallée in Saint Vincent, one of the largest and most prestigious casinos in Europe. It’s privileged position in the heart of the Aosta Valley offers its guests many games in environments of great design and refinement.
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