Valle D'Aosta between castles and trekking

Who I am
Lluis Enric Mayans

Author and references

Valle d'Aosta ? 23/29 June 2016
This year I wanted to relive an old - but never set - love: the Mountain!
So, with reasonable advance, monitoring for a period already? in the months of January / February the Ryan Air website, I found the flight Palermo Turin at 6,30 on 23 June 2016 Turin / Palermo At 17,50 on 29 June at 52? per person. Made the pi? important, the rest I organized about a month later with more? calm.
The destination I had in mind was the Aosta Valley, which I return to visit for the third time (plus a short one for work). So consulting my essential I find the B&B Les Noyers in Verrayes, just 2 km from Fenis and 5 minutes by car from Aosta, which is located in a strategic position with respect to all the destinations I plan to reach: in the center ! So whether I wanted to go to Courmayeur or Gressoney, rather than Cervinia or Cogne ... it was always in the center! But clearly, beyond the geographical position, there? what immediately convinced me were the excellent reviews (9,4 on booking) that travelers left after staying there. The price for 6 nights in triple with breakfast: 500?
Now we need the car. Considering the routes I have in mind to do, an SUV would be necessary! I find him with Goldcar at Turin Caselle airport. In reality? ? in a couple of minutes: they pick you up and bring you back with a shuttle that coincides with the time of your flight, mind you, right at the departures exit, not at the arrivals where you arrive: you have to go upstairs.
I took a Nissan Qashqai 1.5 turbodiesel full optional and the first rental, for a little more? of 300?, of which about 180? just to have comprehensive insurance (no deductibles, no worries!).
The staff of the rental office of the place? was definitely courteous and professional: Absolutely a more? what a positive!

1 day

The first step ? the Juventus Stadium (oh yes ... I confess my faith!), where we take a tour of the mall inside it and buy some gadgets at the Juve store.
Next, we head towards the Fortress of Bard, a beautiful fortified complex from the late Middle Ages which represented the first military opposition in the south of the valley. Restored about twenty years ago, it hosts exhibitions and on occasion? been the set of important cinematic events: in 2014 The Avengers: Age of Ultron, by Marvel! The pi? high? reachable by very modern panoramic lifts. At the lower entrance c ?? a large parking lot reserved for visitors that doesn't cost much: for about 5 hours I paid 5 ?. Just adjacent to the fort there is a pretty medieval village that is worth a visit. At the end of which, just when you arrive on the SS26 and then at the entrance to the parking lot, we found the bistro? Ad Gallias ?. Here we had our first Valdostano meal! Excellent cold cuts, exceptional Arnard lard with chestnuts and hot honey and a very respectable carbonara! For 3 about 50? ... not a bad start!
Now we continue to get to our B&B above ... which we can easily reach in half an hour. Great welcome! Mrs Annamaria? - is that so? been all the time? very sweet and very delicate! The room, a triple room, remains in the attic and offers a spectacular view! Do you hand over the keys and do the formalities? bureaucratic, we make an appointment for the next day at 8.00 for breakfast.
We settle down, refresh ourselves and go back to the street, in the direction of the nearby Fenis and its Castle. Beautiful, but given the late hour? closed. We enjoy the show it offers, thanks to the setting sun that envelops it in a delicate pink light ... We are looking for a place for dinner, but it does not seem like a simple undertaking: very few places and almost all of them closed. We find? Lo bistrot? Open, a simple place with a few tables outside ... awarded. It seems that some natives also meet in the place for a beer and a chat after dinner. We had a pizza, a sausage with polenta concia and a carbonade with polenta concia, not bad. Prices too: adequate.

2 day

Friday 24 June
At 8 we go down for the first of the series of breakfasts prepared by Mrs. Annamaria about which I had read so well ... Do I confirm all the goodness? of the products and the extraordinary availability? of the lady in trying to satisfy every desire ... even those unexpressed! The fresh cakes prepared by herself, of course, were every day the most? exciting in the morning!
Our first goal can not? than to be the Mont Blanc, so as soon as we are ready we start, through the nearby highway and in a little more? of half an hour we find it in front of us in all its white majesty! Starting point of the brand new Skyway cable car: Courmayeur. We leave the car in the covered parking just below the ticket office (in the end for about 4 hours we paid 5?) And we immediately queue to buy tickets: 48? for adults and 34? the guys.
The circular cabin that, when climbing, turns on itself at 360? ? very impressive, but ... you can enter 60 !!! And everyone has at least one backpack that in the case of mountaineers or similar who use it, almost the size of a trunk !! Ergo, it's like canned sardines !! You are only lucky if you can take a seat near the windows and enjoy the landscape. Then, you arrive at the first station, Pavillom, about 2170 m high, here you can take a tour in the garden, or in the shopping center or simply acclimatize / get used to and then continue the climb. We did a nice ride and as soon as we saw that one of the cabins that was going up was not very full, we went up to Punta Helbronner ... show! They really did a good job: walkways, artfully set up viewpoints, in short, you can enjoy the view from all possible perspectives. To us, then,? a wonderful day happened: clear and very blue sky, pleasant temperature, really a great luck! From the station you can? reach, by means of an elevator that goes down for a few hundred meters into the rock and then through a tunnel that crosses it, the Torino refuge, the old station and ante skyway refuge. Me too? let's take a ride, we would have liked to eat something, but it was all full, mostly from the guides who, I guess, were on their lunch break ...
Without the essential photos, the walk on the snow and enjoyed everything there was to enjoy, we go down to the pavillon, where we take a tour to the shopping center to buy some souvenirs. So let's go back to Courmayeur. Where do we take a nice ride (even a little romantic, since we have revisited? And immortalized - some? Location? Where we had been on our honeymoon so many? Too many - years ago ...), what about ... this place? the pearl of the Valley,? what more? of all makes the most of the large influx of tourists in both winter and summer.
While admiring the streets of the place we saw, right at the corner where the pedestrian street begins, the place? La luge ?, a bistro / sandwich shop that seems to be very original. We sit down and order 3 maxi sandwiches and drinks, on average we spent 13? each, not very little, but the sandwiches were really very large and the hamburgers of excellent meat!
Afterwards, we head in the direction of the Sarre castle. It is found immediately along the SS26 just near the relative road junction, towering imperiously on a hill. The guided tour costs 5? and lasts about 40 min, this, for ?, concerns the upper floor, while the lower one is accessed for free and you can? admire a photo gallery of shots of the Savoy family. This residence was used by Vitt. Emanuele II, first king of Italy, as a hunting lodge, in fact, the sparse furnishings confirm its use by no means luxurious. The only quirk: the trophy room, decorated with 3600 ibex horns, to testify the skill? and the great passion for the king for hunting, in fact. Interesting, there? enjoyed this experience and having deepened our knowledge about the rulers of our country, I highly recommend it.
A few hundred meters away is the castle of Sarriod a la Tour, a residence belonging to the noble family of the same name, preceded by an expanse of apple trees.
On the opposite side of the SS26, however, you can? to see the Castle of Saint Pierre on a hill overlooking the village of the same name. But because of the renovations, isn't it? possible to visit it, only if you can? admire the external architecture, with the characteristic 4 circular turrets.
Yes ? it's late and fatigue mounts ... a few minutes and we reach our accommodation, where we refresh ourselves and rest as needed, and then go out for dinner.
We eat dinner 500 m from our hotel, at the Cristina restaurant, on the ss26 locality. Verrayes. We noticed it passing in front of us seeing the large parking lot almost full of cars ... interpreting this curiosity? as a positive sign. Very simple place (a little too much), plastic tables and chairs, under a gazebo outside, without tablecloths, staff not worthy of master chefs or Michelin guides, but nice! In the end the dishes were abundant, the quality? good and modest prices. If you are not looking for anything too refined, this place, maybe it won't do? happy your eyes, but your palate and your pockets, yes!
Finished dinner. To sleep

3 day

Saturday 25-June
After breakfast, direction Gressoney Saint Jean! Still for the SS26? direction Turin - and then for SR 43 to the destination. First stop on the program: Castel Savoia. This ? what we have considered the most? beautiful of the castles visited in this Valdostano tour! Do you want why? ? the pi? young of all - it was set up in 1904 -, do you want why? denotes all the good taste of the one who wanted to make it, Queen Margherita of Savoy, who wanted to make it her summer residence, or for the view it offers over the entire Gressoney valley ... but? very beautiful!
The guided tour lasts about an hour, costs 4? and only adults pay. To enter you must wear shoes that serve to preserve the parquet of the very delicate floor. Here I risk being verbose, so much to me? liked it, but you will give me a few brief hints, I hope ...
The structure consists of 5 towers of different heights and sizes that delimit the central body, the original furnishings are all in excellent condition, the materials to build it, stone and wood, have all been taken from the same location. where it rises. The symbols and the initials of the queen, often stand out in every shape and in every corner of the structure, so? as the motto of the queen herself? ?always ahead? -. Some curiosities: The queen wanted the kitchens to be detached from the main structure, in order to preserve the much wood of the furniture from humidity. that this, inevitably, would have produced, for which the food was brought to the table through an underground passage equipped with rails and warming trolleys, to avoid in this way, that the dishes were cold even before being served; All the rooms were already at that time equipped with cast iron radiators. Gressoney and its inhabitants still recognize today that the construction of this castle and the attendance of the Queen in those valleys for more? 30 years between the end of the 800th century and the first quarter of the 900th century, they made - and still do - the fortune of their valley due to the large influx of tourists. You can't miss Castel Savoia if you go over there!
While we were inside the castle, outside if it? came a heavy downpour,? lasted just a couple of hours, the only weather joke in the whole holiday week, but then the sun? returned to illuminate valleys and mountains, restoring the beautiful colors that have accompanied us in these days. Now we're looking for a place to have lunch, but don't we? simple thing! Some of the places I already had? attentive consulting tripadvisor were all full, so I head just outside the center, at the restaurant? caf? olsen ?, I had also read correctly about this place. Arrivals and c ?? a large parking lot, then you enter a very large hall, which doesn't have much of a mountain style, but still nice. We sit down and order a couple of appetizers and 3 first courses. Excellent? Gnocchetti alla gressonara ?, too bad that the portion was not a bit? pi? abundant. Medium-high prices.
After lunch, we take the SR43 and take a trip to Staffal, where the road ends and the Monterosa cable cars are located, to take a peek at the other giant of the valley, Monte Rosa, in fact. He too majestic. Not C?? a lot of movement ... let's take a ride, some photos and go back to Gressoney.
Let's take a nice walk around the village that? really something lovely ... I struggled not to take too many photos! From there we arrive at the Gober lake, where we find a lot of people lying on the grass, or close to the adjacent playground, rather than the riding school that exists nearby, enjoying the day, the landscape and the relaxation that inevitably it follows! After enjoying these beauties, we return to the center to dedicate ourselves to another small (but expensive) passion: the purchase of some souvenirs. Yes, why? this ? the right place where something appears that can then remind us of our journey and the wonders that we have been able to see and know.
A day full of beautiful emotions, just the ones you hope a holiday can give you ... now let's go back for a few hours of? Technical break ?, and then for dinner.
Dinner that we decide to consume again at the Cristina restaurant: we have been around all day and we don't really want to run around again for dinner, and since? the experience of the night before? been? all in all - positive: let's repeat. Also in this case we leave satisfied. Indeed, tonight? went even better!

4 day

Sunday 26-6
The agreed program wants us to head towards the Cogne valley ... and so we do.
We cover the ss26 up to the entrance of the Sr47 direz. Cogne, but let's make a stop in Pondel, where in the III BC the Romans built an imposing bridge / aqueduct over a stream ... what strength they are Romans! We are there for half an hour, just a moment after a couple of groups of tourists arrive, we manage to take some nice pictures, then we continue.
Once in Cogne, we continue towards the hamlet of Liliaz, to go and see the famous waterfalls. So immediately we find parking, leave the car and head towards the destination that we know is about ten minutes on foot. At some point more? that the indications, it will be? the deafening noise of the water rushing to guide us ... and as soon as we get right under them, the spectacle that is offered to us? wonderful as nature and its strength can almost always be! 150 meters high and the water, which seems to want to escape from this path and instead? forced to follow him, which crashes down loudly and noisily, throwing splashes tens of meters away ... we couldn't miss all this !! Alongside the waterfall there are paths that - not without difficulty - take you up to the top from where you can admire the spectacle from the opposite perspective: from top to bottom! Having filled up with good sensations, now we want to reach Loie Lake via the path no. 12 which starts from the foot of the waterfall. We take the path and immediately realize that it will not be? easy feat! There are 700 m of altitude to climb ... and the path? really not easy ... if we then consider that Serena, our daughter, although agile and accustomed is only 10 years old ... I begin to doubt that I am doing the most? simple. But I persist and, despite the difficulties, we arrive at the half? road, about 2100 m, but the lake? still about an hour away ... another hour of effort, Serena? exhausted and I in pi? of an occasion I was afraid for her! So I decide to stop in a small clearing overlooking the waterfalls, where we eat the packed breakfast that we had brought to consume it once we reached the lake, and after that? we go down. Once in Liliaz, do we relax a bit? on a green lawn, we refresh ourselves in the fountain existing there, drinking the very good and fresh water almost as if we had crossed the Sahara! So let's take a ride in the pretty village and then head towards Cogne.
Do I confess that Cogne? much more? beautiful than I expected! ? collected, elegant, silent and then opens towards an expanse of green grass like the emerald as far as the eye can see! The car is left in a large parking lot (free !!) where lifts take you up and from where you can reach the center of the pretty village in a few steps. In this structure, in addition to the lifts, there are public toilets, an information office and even a free Wi-Fi area!
Late afternoon, our next stop? Aosta.
Arrived in the city center, we did not have any difficulties? in finding parking (even free!). The center ? all pedestrian, very elegant.
Are the remains of civilization perfectly visible? Roman: the high walls, the Praetorian gate and the amphitheater. Let's take some souvenirs and then think about dinner! I already had selected? l? Hostaria del Calvino? for our evening meal, the local? right in the center, in via Croix de la Ville 24, have a bit? of tables outside, and only by chance we find a place outside! The impact? positive, very professional staff and also the dishes that the other patrons are having look good. The girl recommends their menu of the day, we take that one, a pizza and a lasagna for the girl ... all very good, but the tourist menu has an excellent quality / price ratio !!
The portions are also generous. Experience to remember and, if necessary, to repeat. Satisfied and tired, we go back to sleep.

5 day

Monday? 27-6
Today we will go in front of the Matterhorn. Still from the SS26, we arrive at the junction of the SR46 for Cervinia, and after about twenty minutes we are in the huge square / parking (always free!) At the entrance to the town.
Wonderful day, but since? at 11 the sun has just peeped out from above the peaks, the temperature? rather short, about 12 ?! The jacket is needed. At least for a while, after, in fact, will we get to 15/16? and you stay? better. I do not dare to think without this beautiful sun what we would have suffered ... We immediately notice that there are many works in progress: huge cranes, scaffolding and so on ruin the surrounding landscape, and also in consideration of the fact that there is? very few people, I deduce that, in my opinion, here in winter? a whole? other story:? that is the moment more? high for tourism!
In the upper part of the town, just below the ski lifts, there is? a large and beautiful playground, all around green meadows as far as the eye can see! And finally ... there above, the majesty? del Cervino that at that precise moment? entirely illuminated by the sun! Shall we linger a little? in this area / playground, then we complete the visit of the town, we buy some souvenirs and a couple of sandwiches which, after having moved a couple of kilometers more? below, still in the SR46, we will consume at the beautiful Lago Bleu. A not very large mirror of water, surrounded by trees and meadows that has this particular color and which reflects the Matterhorn giving a view that is nothing short of suggestive! Sar? a memorable lunch with these climatic and landscape conditions!
Returning to the car, we go down again towards the valley and arrived at the junction of Antey Saint Andre, We take the SR 8 up to La Magdeleine, where, shortly after leaving the town, there is? a parking lot where we leave the car and start a pedestrian path, which represents, besides the cable car that always leaves from Antey Saint Andre, the only way to get to the famous? village? by Chamois.
We walk the path, for the truth? very easy, leaving on our left a very green valley, for a little more? of an hour and at the end of which, ci? that opens to our view has not many equals: A group of houses surround a small square where there is a church, the cable car station, a couple of clubs (bars, hotel haberdashery / market, a playground !!), the warehouse of the civil protection and a panoramic terrace that overlooks almost suspended in the valley below, spectacular! Residents in this country do not reach 100, and apart from a few tractors, there are no other means of transport. We sit on the terrace to enjoy everything? almost incredulous in metabolizing these beauties. We would like to stop time and enjoy this light and this silence the most? as long as possible ... and for a while we try. We omit to climb up to the Lod lake because, in consideration of the time it will take? to go back to La Magdeleine and retrieve the car, we would not want to be late as it is also getting dark. But we have become aware that this will be, if not the most? exciting, one of the moments that most? gladly we will remember and that distinguish? this holiday! Reminder: plan future return to Chamois!
Highlight ... Take note !!
For dinner, we had booked the? Bon Heure? in Fenis. At 20.30, satisfied by the victory of the national team over Spain, hungry, we arrive like this? as agreed. The men? ? strictly fixed: a little? of local cold cuts and cheeses, very good, a souffl? of vegetables very good. As first they brought us the traditional Valpolinette soup, which would be stale bread with cauliflower and meat broth: very few times I don't eat the dishes they submit to me, maybe I don't appreciate it, but I generally eat them anyway, but in this case I don't? was so? ... I declined, too strong flavors that tend to bitter. Second, baked fillet with potatoes, not bad. Fruit semifreddo for dessert and coffee / grappa. For? ... the lady who manages at 360? the farm? she takes care of the garden, the animals, even taking them to the pastures, helps in the kitchen and serves at the tables -? too nice!! The pi? beautiful dinner, I still could not know,? was the long and friendly, as well as adorable and interesting, chat with her ... I assure you that it made me forget the trauma of the soup ... We will keep a good memory of her and, why? no, of the evening. We only happened in the evening (the menu changes every day) where I couldn't appreciate everything they offered.
Pleasant evening, nice people ... now to sleep!

6 day

Tuesday? June 28
There? remained to realize one last purpose: to visit, walking on foot, the most? wilderness of the Gran Paradiso national park, where we hope, with a little? luck, to meet some of the animals that populate these valleys: La Valsavarenche.
Studying the maps and guides in our possession, but also reading about similar experiences lived by other travelers who wanted to share with this same vehicle, we identify a path that from eaux rousses in a little more? of an hour it reaches the guardian's hut in Livionanz. And if you want you could continue to the Sella refuge, used as a hunting lodge, in fact, by King Vitt. E. II, but you need to walk another 3 hours at least ... The path? narrow but pleasant, almost always under dense vegetation, only a few sections are discovered. We continually scan the undergrowth in the hope of finding some cute little animal ... until a chamois appears in front of us! And great too! We manage to take a single photo while it disappears again among the foliage ... but we have made a resolution: specimen of local fauna sighted !!
After a while? along the road you leave the wood and arrive at the mountain pasture where the park ranger's hut stands. L? I am immediately attracted by 2 ladies who stared insistently among the tall grass and following the direction of their interest ... I see a scattered group of marmots basking in the sun rolling in the grass in an embrace between them ... wow! Here I take the photos and how! They even pose! I also make my daughter approach to be able to photograph her ... and up to a couple of meters at the most they do not fear the proximity (unless yes, though ?: they hide!). Would the ibex be missing? The star of the park - but we know that this season we need to reach them much more? above, we will do what we have seen so far ...
We take a ride to the hut, and return to that clearing where we sit on a small promontory that looks down, where there were, and still are, the marmots to eat some sandwiches: do it in that place, with the marmots a few steps staring at you curious,? It was truly an experience that we will gladly remember!
We stay a little longer to enjoy the show and then go back down to the car. Having recovered it, we return to the hotel to rest a little, a nice shower and for the last Valdostana evening we chose Saint Vincent.
We arrive and immediately at the entrance, not far from the casino, c ?? a large parking lot, mostly free, where we leave the car. From there in a few steps we are in via Chanoux, that is in the center of the village. Center what for ?, differently from what we hoped (and as we remembered from previous visits several years ago)? practically deserted! At 18.30 pm on Tuesday 28 June 2016 in S. Vincent there were very few souls around ... Another reason for disappointment? been the see many shops already? closed, some were going to do it from there? little by little and others, unfortunately, bore the signs? cedesi activities ?? ... I think that even here the crisis has claimed some victims, too bad! Anyway, we take a tour in the vain search for some souvenirs (the few shops open were not of the right category) that we have not found, until? for a while we sit in the central square where there were about ten people in all including 2 children playing. In the meantime I take care of finding a place to dine. I consult tripadvisor and pay attention to 2/3 ... but the final choice falls on Pizzeria Gi & Gi, in via Biavaz 9, just a sleeper that connects via Chanoux to via Roma. As recommended by those who have been there and have written about it, we book.
At 20.00 we introduce ourselves and immediately we take a seat. The local ? small, about twenty seats, not very representative of the mountain, but welcoming. I believe that the management is not Italian, but the dishes are, and how. Meanwhile we choose what to take, the place? all full and out the door yeah? formed a small group of people who take turns to enter ... good sign. Let's take a pizza, a tourist menu, a portion of fries and a first course for me ... All really excellent and abundant. The good and huge pizza; the tourist menu surprisingly of excellent quality? ? the vegetable pie with fondue? it was a thrill for our taste buds - my ravioli with porcini cream a triumph of taste and quantity? ... and, final surprise: really fair prices! Well done.
Satisfying dinner, city tour? a little less ... we go back.

7 day

Wednesday? June 29
Wake up early to prepare your bags, then last breakfast with Mrs. Annamaria. I confess that taking leave of her? been more? exciting than we ever expected. Aldil? of this she, always very kind, made us some biscuits to take away and Serena, my little girl, gave a beautiful cup that we have placed in the center of the window among all those we collect, so much we appreciated! Pleasant memory ... Thank you very much!
At 9.30 we leave the hotel and head towards Turin. We have the plane for 18 pm, c ?? a long time, but we have to go to see the castles of Verres and Issogne, cos? as per initial intentions.
Verres? beautiful, except for the steep climb to get there ... It dominates the whole valley and? in an excellent state of conservation. At the moment it hosts an exhibition of which we are not interesting, so we decide to spend our time and our money in that of Issogne which we know to be, at least from our point of view, more? Interesting.
We arrive at the nearby Castle of Issogne which from the outside, so? as we had read, didn't we? comparable to most of the Valdostani castles, it seems, more? what else, an ancient and shabby mansion. We do not get discouraged, why? there? which makes it attractive, we know how to be inside.
The ticket ? only for adults - it costs 5?, the guided tour lasts an hour. It starts at 11.30 and immediately turns out to be interesting. The castle dates back to the late Middle Ages and was built at the behest of the local lords, the Challants. Over the generations that followed sub? a sharp decline due to a dispute between heirs, for which many things were sold and even stolen. In the 19th century the castle was bought at a public auction by a Turin-born Avondo, who committed himself? very strongly in returning the original splendor to the castle. The enterprise turned out to be? arduous, but in the end, somehow he succeeded. Regarding the object, furnishings and anything else he couldn't? to find, in Avondo he had it faithfully replicated to the originals. When he had completed his mission, he decided to donate everything to the Region ... What generosity ?!
It follows then, that everything now? in its place. You can admire the table set with all the furnishings of the time, the kitchen with all the tools, the bedroom, the hall of justice ... all brought back to 500 years ago! Very beautiful.
After the visit to the castle is finished and appreciated, we set off again towards Turin, where we arrive shortly after. We stop for a quick bite to eat, then head to the airport. First we return our beautiful travel companion, who allowed us to see beautiful places and landscapes and to easily do almost 1000 km in a week with only 70? of fuel !! Amazing!! So with the goldcar shuttle we reach the departures of Turin Caselle, we complete the formalities? boarding and look forward to boarding and returning home.
Return postponed by 2 and a half hours due to safety problems due to the loading of a baggage without its owner / passenger.
Here are some of my considerations which I hope will be useful to some traveling friend who would like to consult them.
The Valle d? Aosta? land of tranquility, you will see that everything flows without haste and without stress ... adapt. But above all, don't cause it to those who don't? accustomed to, respect customs and traditions ... but I doubt you don't do it spontaneously: will you come? natural.
Highways cost a bang! On my skin I felt the very high cost of tolls (for only 5 km I paid 3? At a time on 7,60 different occasions !!) and the absolute uselessness? ? if you want - since the SS 5 runs parallel to the A26 motorway (just a few tens of meters away) from one end of the region to the other. You will save a lot of money (I over 100? During all my daily, repeated trips!) And you will enjoy much more villages and landscapes? suggestive that the highway.
Thanks for your time and ... Have a nice trip to you all !!
And Serena

Audio Video Valle D'Aosta between castles and trekking
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