Frontier land, autonomous region, often ignored in favour of more classic geographical routes, known to most for the fancy ski destinations, the Aosta Valley is actually the silent guardian of imposing mountains and pristine parks, as well as a territory rich in history, dotted with Roman and medieval ruins, home of affable mountaineers accustomed to the jet set.
Its barren appearance conceals a welcoming soul.
Despite being close to home, it is a totally unexpected destination, surrounded by majestic peaks and snowy landscapes, immersed in rarefied atmospheres, almost suspended in search of new experiences, historical memories and silence.
Perla delle Alpi
Fashionable and sophisticated, the noblest place in the Alps knows how to combine alpine identity and hard mountain life with the glamour and luxury of international tourism.
Its history boasts distant origins and countless influences that have shaped its character and culture.
Sled dog experience
Val Veny opens out in the heart of the Mont Blanc massif, extending from Entrèves on to Col de La Seigne on the border with France.
The most striking peaks that rise up are the Aiguille Noire de Peuterey, the pinnacles of the Dames Anglaises, the Aiguilles des Glaciers and especially the Brenva and Miage glaciers.
Skyway and Rifugio Torino
From Courmayeur we go up to Mont Blanc by means of the Skyway cable car that takes us to Pointe Helbronner (3,466 m):
it is an extraordinary and breathtaking experience that makes you feel like you can almost touch the sky.
Here a large panoramic terrace provides an extraordinary 360-degree view of most of the “four thousand” of the Western Alps:
Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa, the Matterhorn, the Gran Paradiso and the Grand Combin.
Skiing, passes and glaciers
Nested on a basin at an altitude of 1441 m, surrounded by dense forests, high mountains and extensive glaciers, La Thuile is a must for anyone who climbs to the Little St Bernard Pass that connects Italy to France.
La Thuile is part of a vast ski area connected to La Rosière in Savoy, but is also famous as a starting point for the ascents to the Rutor glacier.
Cly e Fènis
Castles and ruins
In the Middle Ages the collection of tolls conferred power and income onto those who rose to the rank of “lord”, and the Aosta Valley was the obligatory route towards the Alpine passes:
thus castles and towers were built that dominated vast areas of the valley. We stopped at the Castles of Cly and Fenis, located along the road from Chatillon to Aosta.
The Castle of Cly, characterized by a central quadrangular tower surrounded by a city wall, dates back to 1023 and is one of the oldest manors in the Aosta Valley.
Its history tells of splendour, abandonment and renovation.
The Fénis Castle was not built for war purposes. It combines the characteristics of the fortification with those of the stately residence:
in fact, it was the prestigious home of the Challant family that, through the construction campaigns that followed over the years, endowed it with both the imposing defensive apparatus and the elegant pictorial decorations.
Valtournenche, the alpine valley that
rises towards Monte Cervino, opens out at Châtillon.
“The noblest rock in Europe”, according to the definition of the English writer John Ruskin, or “la Gran Becca”, as the locals call it, shows itself as soon as one approaches the first village in the valley.
Valtournenche is the home of the mountain guides of the Matterhorn and of many illustrious people from the Aosta Valley,
and its territory includes the renowned resort of Breuil-Cervinia, one of the largest ski areas in the Alps.