THE AOSTA VALLEY REGION
Culture and traditions
Augusta Prætoria, today’s Aosta, was founded by the Romans at the dawn of the Augustan Age. Notable remains of the Roman city include the Arch of Augustus, the Prætorian Gate, the theatre, amphitheatre and forensic cryptoporticus, to quote the most important.
SANT’ORSO CRAFT FAIR
The most important and widely-known regional fair of handicraft and local products is the thousand-year-old “Fiera di Sant’Orso”. Every year, on the 30th and 3st of January, thousands of visitors from all over the world throng the streets of Aosta.
ARCHEOLOGICAL PARK AND MEGALITHICAL AREA OF SAINT-MARTIN-DE-CORLÉANS
The archaeological area of Saint-Martin-de-Corléans, located on the western outskirts of the city of Aosta, is a site of prime scientific importance.
The important ritual ploughing that consecrated the area, the holes where timber posts were planted, besides such imposing monuments as the large dolmen at the centre of the excavated area, 46 anthropomorphic steles of incomparable beauty and value and the majestic megalithic tombs are all prehistoric testimonies that make it an internationally important archaeological site where visitors can experience an emotional and highly cultural journey through time.
The Aosta Valley is deservedly famous for its medieval buildings: towers and castles are scattered throughout the entire region and are a hallmark of the local landscape. The most interesting castles are unquestionably the splendidly preserved castles of Fénis, Issogne and Verrès.
FORTRESS OF BARD
This is a Savoy fortress strategically occupying the entire rocky spur that bars access to the valley. On becoming part of the Aosta Valley Autonomous Region heritage, it was restored and valorised and today houses the Museum of the Alps and is a valued cultural centre that holds permanent and temporary exhibitions and cultural events in general.
Tourist attractions in the Aosta Valley
The Skyway cable car, an extreme engineering feat accomplished high up among the perennial ice fields of Mont Blanc, takes you to 3,466 m a.s.l. in just a few minutes and affords a stunning panorama over the highest peaks in the Alps.
The Astronomical Observatory of the Autonomous Region of the Aosta Valley (OAVdA) and the Planetarium of Lignan are situated in the Saint-Barthélemy valley, at over 1,600 metres a.s.l.
OAVdA is the only astronomical observatory in Italy to have established an official multi-year agreement with INAF (National Institute of Astrophysics) for research, public outreach and education.
The Observatory’s collection of scientific instruments in among the most impressive in Europe, while the Planterium takes visitors on a virtual voyage through the cosmos, observing planets, constellations, nebulae and galaxies, using computer graphics to discover the most interesting physical phenomena connected to them, thanks to projections created entirely by the staff.
Discovered by the Romans and appraised by the Savoy Royal Family as far back as1800, Pré-Saint-Didier spa, is undoubtedly a precious gem of the Aosta Valley. The unmistakable outline of Mont Blanc acts as a backdrop to this natural paradise.
Parks and nature
GRAN PARADISO NATIONAL PARK
Established in 1922, this is the oldest national park in Italy, its history is closely linked to safeguarding the survival of the park’s symbol: the ibex. The outstanding beauty of the alpine scenery can rarely be matched.
MONT AVIC NATURE PARK
Created in 1989, this was the Aosta Valley’s first regional natural park and comprises an enormous amount of suggestive and enchanting scenery. Nowhere else in the Aosta Valley can we find so many, nor such large bodies of water, marshes and peat bog, making it a unique environment.
Wines and flavours
Due to the physical presence of the Alps, the Aosta Valley climate is particularly suitable for grape growing, with wine being produced here since Roman times. Viticulture is presently experiencing a boom and the “Valle d’Aosta – Vallée d’Aoste” D.O.C (Denomination of Controlled Origin) has 7 sub-denominations according to the area of production plus19 sub-denominations according to the grape variety. Local wines have won important awards both on a national and an international scale.
Cheese, cured meats and traditional dishes: the flavours of the Aosta Valley reflect its ancient history handed down to the present day. Traditional Valdostan dishes include local products – the first and foremost, Fontina DOP – have continued to remain very varied and rich over the course of time.