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20 Places to Visit in Valle d'Aosta

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Joel Fulleda
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More and more people are choosing to spend pleasant holidays in Valle d'Aosta, to experience nature and relax, especially in winter. Snow-capped mountains and ski areas are an integral part of the Aosta Valley tourist identity, however they should not be underestimated the history, art and culture that make it a place with an immense heritage all to discover.

Let's see together what are the 20 places to visit in Valle d'Aosta, for those who decide to spend a few days in this wonderful area.



Index

  1. Aosta
  2. Tzatelet and Gargantua nature reserves
  3. Courmayeur - Mont Blanc ski resorts
  4. Sanctuary of Notre-Dame de Guérison
  5. Gran Paradiso National Park
  6. Cogne: Lillaz waterfalls, mines and ski area
  7. Castles of Verrès, Issogne and Forte di Bard
  8. Fénis Castle
  9. Savoy Castle
  10. Monte Rosa ski areas: Champoluc and Gressoney
  11. Mont Avic Natural Park
  12. Castles of Saint-Pierre, Sarriod de la Tour and Sarre
  13. Pré-Saint-Didier
  14. Saint-Vincent and Ussel Castle
  15. Montagnayes Nature Reserve and Place Moulin Lake
  16. Saint-Rhémy-en-Bosses et Étroubles
  17. La Thuile, Cascate del Rutor and Lago d'Arpy
  18. Monte Cervino: Breuil-Cervinia, Chamois, Valtournenche and Lago Blu
  19. Saint-Barthélemy astronomical observatory
  20. Wildlife park and castle of Introd
  21. User questions and comments

1 - Aosta

The city of Aosta was known as "the Rome of the Alps" for its history linked to the Roman domination and for the presence of Roman remains still visible. It is in fact the second city in Italy, after Rome, with the largest number of monuments from that era.

The Romans left a rich heritage in Aosta which includes the Arch of Augustus, the Porta Praetoria, the monumental Roman Theater, the Amphitheater and the Forensic Cryptoporticus. To these is also added the medieval legacy with the Cathedral, which dominates the city thanks to its two bell towers which, with a height of 60 m, are the tallest buildings in the entire Aosta Valley.
Then in the Saint-Martin-de-Corléans district there is the megalithic area, considered a sacred area from the Neolithic to the Middle Ages, today it represents a very important acheological site.

Also not to be missed is the cableway that connects Aosta to the locality of Pila, in less than 20 minutes it overcomes an altitude difference of about 1200 meters along a path of about 5 km.



2 - Tzatelet and Gargantua nature reserves

Among the breathtaking landscapes of which the Aosta Valley boasts, one is located between the valley of the Buthier stream and that of the Dora Baltea. This is the Tzatelet Reserve, a protected area rich in vegetation, fauna and there is no shortage of services for those who love being outdoors: there is for example a field of palet, an original game from the Aosta Valley very dear to local tradition. You can also take a fairly demanding itinerary from Echevennoz to the Cathedral of Aosta. Already in the past the area of ​​the Reserve played an important role for the settlement of ancient populations. At the top, visit the necropolis, which will allow you to know some historical hints related to the late Neolithic.

Another gem of the region is the Côte de Gargantua Reserve in the municipality of Gressan. It is the spur, born from deposits of glacial origin, which it has generated the legend to which we owe the name of this very particular area: the "Côte" in fact would be the finger of the giant Gargantua, a character invented by the French writer Rabelais.

3 - Courmayeur - Mont Blanc ski resorts

Courmayeur is the ideal destination for lovers of snow sports, its territory boasts the presence of the highest peak in the Alps, Mont Blanc, and with the fantastic Skyway Monte Bianco cable car you can reach 3.466 m in height. The cab that travels hanging rotates on itself to guarantee everyone inside a breathtaking view of the rise. The route includes three stations: from an altitude of 1-300 m in Courmayeur - The Valley you reach the 2.173 m of Pavillon - The Mountain, and from here you reach the last peak of Punta Helbronner - The Sky at more than 3.000 m.

But there is not only the Skyway, in winter other cable cars allow you to access in a few minutes a ski area that offers 100 km of tracks in 33 tracks with significant differences in height, including the Arp, which allows you to ski at 2.755 meters above sea level. And then 18 ski lifts and artificial snow systems that cover up to 70% of the slopes.



4 - Sanctuary of Notre-Dame de Guérison

The Sanctuary of Notre-Dame de Guérison rises at the beginning of Val Veny, against the backdrop of the majestic Brenva glacier, and is one of the most important sanctuaries in the whole Aosta Valley region. In the winter the church is unreachable, so you can only visit it if you plan your trip to Courmayeur in the summer. The view from here is breathtaking, it is a strategic point to be able to admire the entire Mont Blanc massif.

Inside the Sanctuary you can see many ex-votos, in particular concerning hikers and mountaineers who have escaped the danger during the attempts to ascend Mont Blanc or crossing the passes.

5 - Gran Paradiso National Park

Located between Valle d'Aosta and Piedmont, it is about one of the most important national parks in Italy, as well as the oldest. The creation of the protected area is strongly linked to the safeguarding of the symbolic animal, the ibex.

With an area of ​​over 71 hectares and an altitude exceeding 4.000m, it is It is possible to admire different types of landscapes, there are aquatic, humid, rocky environments, grasslands and woods. Crossing the Cogne Valley you will come across the towns of Cogne and Aymavilles, along the Valsavarenche instead you will meet Introd, Villeneuve and the homonymous Valsavarenche. The municipalities of Rhêmes-Notre-Dame and Rhêmes-Saint-Georges make up the Val di Rhêmes.

Among the attractions not to be missed there is the Animal Park of Introd, a wildlife park where many animals live together, and also the Paradisia Botanical Garden in Valnontey, where you can admire 1.000 species of plants and rocks and the beautiful butterfly garden. Moreover the network of paths that crosses the Gran Paradiso Park extends for over 500 km, and at the beginning of each itinerary there are signs with signs indicating the route, travel time and behavior to keep.



6 - Cogne: Lillaz waterfalls, mines and ski area

Cogne is one of the doors to the Gran Paradiso Park. Today tourism here is discreet and responsible thanks above all to its "green soul", but until 1979 the economy of Cogne it relied largely on the mining of its rich magnetite deposits. Among the things not to be missed there are in fact the Mines with the Alpinart exhibition center, at the Anselmetti Miners' Village, which hosts an exhibition on the production activity and tools and clothing used by the miners.

Another undisputed destination are the Lillaz Waterfalls, in the homonymous hamlet of the municipality of Cogne, they can be admired in their fullness thanks to the paths that flank them and that allow the discovery of the three levels of which it is composed. Then in winter, when they freeze completely, they become destination for ice climbing professionals.

Cogne it also has a ski area on the wooded slopes of the head of Montzeuc, in the heart of the Gran Paradiso Park, where you can practice snowboarding as well as skiing. Snow is always guaranteed in its best conditions, also thanks to the programmed snowmaking system, thus covering the 9 km of the 8 slopes.

7 - Castles of Verrès, Issogne and Forte di Bard

Don't miss out a visit to these three important fortified complexes. The Castle of Verrès stands on a rocky promontory overlooking the town of Verrès, is one of the best known medieval Aosta Valley manors. It was born as a military fortress in the fourteenth century and today it appears as an austere cube practically devoid of decorative elements, even inside it is simple and essential.

Almost in front of that of Verrès, on the opposite side of the Dora Baltea, there is the Issogne Castle, which creates a sort of contrast by presenting itself as a Renaissance stately home, but always devoid of flashy decorations or frescoes. The internal courtyard is one of the most evocative rooms of the Castle, with the famous Fontana del Melograno, a stone basin from which stands a pomegranate tree entirely in iron which curiously presents the fruits of the pomegranate but the foliage of the oak.

The Forte di Bard stands on the fortress that overlooks the village of Bard, currently it hosts exhibitions of ancient, modern, contemporary art and photography. But not only that, it is home to musical performances, sporting events and even hosts a hotel. Curiosity for fans: in this place some of the filming of the movie "Avengers: Age of Ultron" took place, where the fort represents the base of Hydra, enemy of the Shield.

8 - Fénis Castle

In the municipality of Fénis it rises another of the most famous medieval manors of the Aosta Valley, the Castle in question is one of the best preserved in Italy and is known for its architecture with double walls.

Unlike the other fortified complexes in the region that rise atop rocky promontories, this one it is located in a point completely devoid of natural defenses, most likely because of its function it was above all a prestigious administrative seat of the Challant family. Inside you can visit the ground floor with the weapons room, the refectory, the pantry and the kitchen, on the first floor there is the chapel, the noble kitchen and the dining room of the lords. The itinerary ends in the inner courtyard, in the center of which there is a characteristic stone staircase surmounted by a fresco depicting St. George killing the dragon.

9 - Castel Savoia

Built at the behest of Queen Margherita of Savoy, who was staying in Gressoney as a guest of Baron Beck Peccoz since 1889, Castel Savoia stands at the foot of Colle Ranzola in the Belvedere area from which you can enjoy a wide view over the valley and the peaks of Monte Rosa. It was designed in medieval style by the architect Emilio Stramucci, creator of the decorations of the Royal Palace of Turin and the Quirinale in Rome, as well as of other Savoy residences.

The Savoy Castle is spread over three floors: the ground floor with the day rooms, the noble floor with the royal apartments and the second floor reserved for the gentlemen of the court, this however cannot be visited, the basement houses the cellars. The furnishings on display are all authentic, as are the tapestries that adorn the walls. During the visit you will be able to admire in the room reserved for the spiritual father several photographs depicting Queen Margherita and her entourage during moments of leisure in the mountains. Also in the apartments destined for King Umberto I there are other curious vintage photos.

10 - Monte Rosa ski areas: Champoluc and Gressoney

Monterosa Ski with the towns of Champoluc, Gressoney and also Alagna in Piedmont is one of the major ski areas in Italy, in fact, it has 180 km of slopes, 27 ski lifts and about 66 slopes. The difference in altitude between the bottom of the valley and the highest station is 2.055 m, this represents an above average value and makes Monterosa Ski one of the snowiest ski resorts. In summer it remains almost completely open, also allowing the transport of mountain bikes with the ski lifts and access to the splendid trekking routes in the region.

In Gressoney you will find the "Weissmatten" chairlift, the "Ronken" ski lift and the "Baby snow park Weissmatten" moving walkway. In Champoluc there are other chairlifts and cable cars, but there is also the Frachey-Alpe Charchérioz funicular which allows you to reach, from the Frachey hamlet located at more than 1.600 m asl, 1.981 meters of altitude in less than three minutes at a maximum speed of 30 km / h.

11 - Mont Avic Natural Park

The Mont Avic Park is the first Valle d'Aosta natural park, established in 1989, and aims to conserve the natural resources present in the upper valley of the Chalamy stream in the municipality of Champdepraz.

The protected area is characterized by extremely suggestive landscape aspects, it is present among the numerous bodies of water the largest natural basin in the Aosta Valley, the Gran Lac. And then in the surroundings of the Barbustel refuge you can admire Lac Vallet, Lac Blanc, Lac Cornu and Lac Noir. There are also several paths in the park, the most popular part from the Champorcher valley and through the Colle del Lac Blanc descends into the Champdepraz valley, to then reach the Grand Lac.

The Mont Avic Park also welcomes tourists with exhibition rooms in the Champorcher visitor center, located in the Villa Biamonti in Chateau, and in the Champdepraz visitor center, in Chevrère in the village of Covarey.

12 - Castles of Saint-Pierre, Sarriod de la Tour and Sarre

Among the symbolic monuments of the Aosta Valley, of great importance are the medieval castles and manors. One of these is the Castle of Saint-Pierre, which is perched on a rocky spur overlooking the town of the same name and it houses the Regional Museum of Natural Sciences. Unfortunately, it is currently being restored and therefore closed to the public.

Still in the same village of Saint-Pierre, a little outside the town, the Sarriod de la Tour Castle is worth a visit, which looks like a set of buildings dating back to different eras leaning against each other and protected by a wall. Inside, the most interesting buildings are the chapel and the "Sala delle Teste". This takes its name from the carved shelves that support the ceiling and which depict a variety of faces of noblewomen and gentlemen, of animals and fantastic creatures.

Finally there is the Castle of Sarre, which in 1869 became the property of the Savoy and a place frequented very often by Umberto I, it was he who had the castle decorated with the numerous hunting trophies visible inside the Trophy Gallery and in the collection. museum. It also houses a sort of museum of the memories of the House of Savoy.

13 - Pré-Saint-Didier

Famous mainly for its thermal baths, the municipality of Pré-Saint-Didier is located in the upper valley of the Dora Baltea. Its territory extends to the foot of the Verney ravine, a waterfall enclosed between imposing vertical, narrow and narrow rock walls. A walkway suspended in the void has been built over the ravine, reachable via an itinerary that starts near the ancient bridge over the Dora di Verney and passes through the Mont Blanc Adventure Park. With its 160 m high, the walkway allows you to enjoy an incomparable view on Mont Blanc and the villages of Champex, Palleusieux and Verrand, as well as the waterfall and the thermal spring cave.

And right next to the ravine are the thermal baths, thanks to which Pré-Saint-Didier looks like today point of reference for well-being and relaxation, not only from the Aosta Valley but from Italy. The hot waters flow directly from the heart of the mountain, and here it is possible to carve out moments of light-heartedness and vitality among the steam baths, saunas, the salt room and the sensory tubs.

14 - Saint-Vincent and Ussel Castle

The locality of Saint-Vincent is known for the mildness of its climate, so much so that it has earned the title of "Riviera delle Alpi", also thanks to the presence of vegetation typical of Mediterranean areas such as olive trees and pines. Saint-Vincent is also famous for the Casino and the second spa complex in the region. It presents a path that develops through hot water pools, an outdoor panoramic pool, three saunas, emotional showers, an ice waterfall, and everything you need to be able to totally dedicate yourself to relaxation. The Casino de la Vallée is, instead, one of the most prestigious casinos in Europe, offers a wide range of next generation electronic games and slot machines. Access to the rooms is free, obviously reserved for adults.

In the village of Chatillon dominates another medieval castle not to be missed, the Castle of Ussel, first example in the Aosta Valley of a monobloc castle. It was built directly on the rock, in some parts it also surfaces inside the structure, and the monumental fireplaces that provided the heating are still visible.

15 - Montagnayes Nature Reserve and Place Moulin Lake

The Montagnayes Reserve is located entirely in the municipality of Bionaz and extends up to 3.321 m asl of the Becca-des-Arbyères. Its territory offers visitors typical Alpine landscapes with a prevalence of larch and spruce woods, but from the confluence of the Montagnayes stream to the border with Oyace it is also present an interesting band in which silver fir appears, unusual for this environment. Summer and autumn are the best times to visit the reserve and to walk along the paths, in winter the thick snow cover and the danger of avalanches make the area inaccessible.

Another natural attraction of the Aosta Valley that deserves a visit is the Lake of Place Moulin, also located in the village of Bionaz, one of the largest lakes in the region together with the Beauregard. This artificial lake is famous for its intense color and the surrounding landscape, which in summer and autumn give truly impressive shades of colors. Another feature is the highest arch dam in Europe, it can be reached by taking the regional road that along the Valpelline leads to Bionaz, along the entire lake for about 4 km.

16 - Saint-Rhémy-en-Bosses et Étroubles

E' the last municipality before the Swiss border, Saint-Rhémy-en-Bosses is located at an altitude of over 1.600 mi and enjoys excellent sun exposure in both summer and winter. Worth seeing in the village is the Castle and the Hospice of San Bernardo, where in summer you can visit the San Bernardo dog farm. The prized DOP "Jambon de Bosses" ham is known from this locality, the ideal opportunity to taste it is the dedicated local festival held every year on the second Sunday of July. Plus the sunny slopes of the Head of Crévacol host a ski area about 22 km with a view over the entire Gran San Bernardo Valley.

In the same valley is Étroubles: this medieval village is a real open-air museum with a collection of works exhibited along its streets. Among other things, it is possible to discover suggestive picturesque corners with ancient stone houses. Also here, for lovers of snow sports, there is a cross-country track 18 km long that goes up the valley and touches several Valle d'Aosta villages, reaching the 1.521 meters of Saint-Rhémy-en-Bosses.

17 - La Thuile, Rutor waterfalls and Lake d'Arpy

La Thuile is a commune with a strategic position, in fact it is located along the international road that connects the Aosta Valley to France. Its territory is characterized by high mountains, vast glaciers and dense forests, but the whole town is a very interesting place also from a historical point of view, remains of fortifications and trenches from the th and th centuries are still visible today.

La Thuile is a paradise for hiking, thanks above all to the variety of natural areas present. One of these is the Rutor glacier with its waterfalls, considered among the most beautiful in the Aosta Valley. Three jumps of water are thrown into gorges and precipices generating the Dora del Rutor, and the bridge over the third waterfall allows you to enjoy a fantastic spectacle.

Unmissable and enchanting is also Lake d'Arpy, with an easy route from Colle San Carlo suitable for everyone. Walking along its shore you find yourself in front of the spectacle of the peaks that are part of the Mont Blanc chain and which are reflected in the calm waters of the lake.

18 - Monte Cervino: Breuil-Cervinia, Chamois, Valtournenche and Lago Blu

Located at 2000 m asl Breuil-Cervinia is a renowned tourist resort of the Matterhorn, here in winter the season lasts over 6 months and you can also ski in the summer on the Plateau Rosà glacier. Modern and fast lifts guarantee the connection with Zermatt, on the Swiss side of the mountain, and with Valtournenche. The latter is an authentic mountain village with the charm of yesteryear and typical houses in wood and stone. Just walk in front of the parish church to immerse yourself in the spirit of the citizens, here are exhibited some tombstones of the alpine guides of the valley. In addition, the "Valtournenche-Salette" cable car is the gateway to the slopes of the area.

A suitable place in particular during the summer is the Blue Lake, for excursions and walks. The scenery surrounded by secular larches is spectacular. Also not to be missed another pearl of the Alps, Chamois, reachable only on foot or by cable car. It is a place where peace reigns and where to go to enjoy some relaxation and maybe some typical dishes.

19 - Saint-Barthélemy astronomical observatory

Inaugurated in 2003, the Observatory of the Region is equipped with the most modern instruments and promotes research as well as dissemination, in fact its activity is characterized by an extreme openness to the public, to students, to tourists and to astronomy lovers. There is also a heliophysics laboratory in which it is possible to carry out group observations of the Sun, obviously in complete safety for the eyes thanks to the telescope equipped with a 250 mm mirror. But there is also a Didactic Terrace, with seven Cassegrain telescopes, and the Teatro delle Stelle, for observing the sky with the naked eye using special laser pointers.

Here you will have the possibility of taking a real virtual journey into the cosmos between planets and constellations, all organized and accompanied by the staff of experts. The astrophysicists of the Saint-Barthélemy Observatory can boast some really important results in terms of research, among these: the discovery of an asteroid, baptized "Vallée d'Aoste", the identification of over one hundred variable stars and the observation of some phenomena that lasted a few hours and recorded, among all observers in the world, only here.

20 - Wildlife park and castle of Introd

There is a place in Valle d'Aosta to walk you can spot and observe various species of animals. It is the Parc Animalier of Introd, which aims to preserve the typical fauna of the Alps like the ibex, the chamois and the marmot. Access to the park is in front of the headquarters of the "Les Amis du bois" association, in the village of Villes-Dessus.

And also in the municipality of Introd not to be missed is the Castle, probably dating back to the th century. It stands on a promontory protected by the gorges of the Savara and Dora di Rhemes torrents, and from its summit it is possible to see Mont Blanc and the main peaks surrounding Aosta. Two features of the Introd Castle are the Renaissance granary opposite and the stables.

Along the road that leads from the valley floor to Plan d'Introd you will notice the beautiful Pon Nou, the bridge dating back to 1916. It is a true masterpiece of architectureWhole tree trunks were used to make the huge wooden scaffolding measuring 8 meters wide and 34 long.

Plan your trip: how to get there and where to sleep

To get to the Aosta Valley is You can do it by train, bus or plane. The other closest is Turin Caselle (flights from € 60,00), from which you can then reach Aosta by train or bus (1 h 20 min by car, from Turin Porta Susa direct buses, 2 h).

The region lends itself to various types of holidays, if in winter you want to reach the beautiful snow-capped mountains you will be spoiled for choice on where to stay, from Courmayeur on Mont Blanc (from € 90,00 per night) to Breuil-Cervinia on the Matterhorn (from € 100,00 per night ). For a little relaxation at the spa instead opt for the renowned Pré-Saint-Didier (from € 80,00 per night).

Also for the summer season you will be spoiled for choice enjoy the unspoiled nature of the Aosta Valley maybe stay at the gates of the Gran Paradiso, in Cogne (from € 75,00 per night), or near the Montagnayes Reserve in the municipality of Bionaz (from € 70,00 per night).

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