This week I want to take you to the North of Italy to discover Valle d’Aosta! It is one of the country’s autonomous regions and is also the smallest and least densely populated region. Though it may be small Valle d’Aosta has so much to offer.
Valle d’Aosta is world-famous for its beautiful mountains and valleys, as the majority of the region is Alpine. Some of the famous peaks you may have heard of?
Monte Bianco (Monblanc) (4,808m)
Monte Rosa (4,634)
Gran Paradiso (4,061m)
This is the best region for skiing, hiking, climbing, and just getting lost in the beautiful mountains. And of course, there is plenty of history, cultural sites and delicious food to enjoy. So let’s get discovering Valle d’Aosta!
A little History of Valle D’aosta
The name Aosta actually comes from Augustus, when this region was developed under the Roman Emperor in the first century. You can still find remnants of the Romans throughout the capital city of Aosta. But long before the Romans, the land belonged to the Celts and Ligures, Romans came to take it in the first century BC.
The Region became Savoy owned in the 11th century, this is when he built his famous Forte di Bard (see below). The region began filling up with fortified castles and continued to change hands between the French and Savoy Kingdoms. It did join the Kingdom of Italy upon Unification, yet at the end of WWII the French had snuck in. In fact, the French even tried to keep it after WWII, but the other Allies convinced them to let it go.
Language of Valle d’Aosta
The languages of Valle d’Aosta are quite the story. Aosta spoke French, even before the French themselves! The language was declared the official language of the area, 3 years prior to France’s own decision.
Today French and Italian are the official languages, with both being taught in school & both being used in government. The region has its own language as well known as patoué, it is widely spoken throughout the region.
Patoué is also known as Valdôtain, a franco-provencal dialect.
Here are a few regional proverbs”
- Un sou épargné eat un sou gagné.
Money Saved is money earned
- Qui vat plan, vat san.
Who goes slow, goes healthy.
- Quan lo tsin dzarate la terra marque lo be ten.
When the dog digs at the earth, it’s going to be good weather
Must Sees in the Region
Valle d’Aosta boasts some of the highest peaks of the Alps, as well as some of the most difficult climbs. You can even take a trip to nearly the top of Mon Blanc with the Skyway Monte Bianco! These mountains are beautiful to visit for an adventure, skiing, or even just a weekend in some mountain cabin.
If you are looking more for relax, look to the QC Terme at Pre Saint Didier. This luxurious spa resort could be the perfect day trip or weekend getaway.
While there are many famous castles in the region, the Forte di Bard, on the edge of Piemonte and Valle D’Aosta is one of the most impressive to visit.
Forte di Bard is an 1800’s fort built up by the Savoy family, on top of a 5th century fortification. It was meant to protect the valley leading to Turin from invaders.
Today it is a museum with historical exhibitions as well as temporary art exhibits.
Then of course, you must make a stop in the city of Aosta! Here the ancient mixes with new as Roman ruins are incorprated into modern buildings. Have a walk around and be surrounded by history.
Wine & Food
The cuisine of the area is fairly rustic, mountain food as you might expect. But one thing you must try is their cheese: Fontina and Toma di Gressoney are some of the best!
Other dishes are based on primarily game meat.
Though being of high altitude, Valle d’Aosta has some incredible wine growing and terraced vineyards. They produce Nebbiolo (known in the area as Picotendro), excellent Chardonnay, Petite Arvine, Prié Blanc, and many more.
For being a small region, it has quite the wine diversity! If you are interested in learning more about their wine scene, have a look at this video.
A few favorites in the region
Les Cretes: An amazing winery, their aged Chardonnay was eye opening to me, but I have so far enjoyed ALL their wines.
Chalet des Artistes: A specialty art-themed B&B, beautiful location, and incredible stay. Is owned by a local artist and decorated with his unique works.