Val D'Aosta Photographs, Museums, Alpine Skiing, Transportation
Today we think of Val d'Aosta as off the beaten track, except for skiers and serious hikers. Yet for millennia it was a well-trod crossroads, one of the main access routes between northern and southern Europe. Hannibal marched his elephants through here in the 3rd century BC. Generations of Roman legions trudged through, building roads and bridges that are still visible today. For centuries, an unending stream of pilgrims trekked through on their way to Rome, braving impossible snows, exhausting altitudes and the exorbitant tolls levied by local lords. More recently, Napoleon and his armies swept through the region on their way to victory at Marengo. All of this occurred before two of the great engineering feats of our time, the Mont Blanc Tunnel and the Great St. Bernard Tunnel, were built. And yet, though it is now considerably easier to cross the French-Swiss-Italian borders, Val d'Aosta is no longer on the itineraries of many foreign travelers.
Donnas: The Roman Road
Which makes it our kind of place. There is something for everyone in this tiny region, including a hundred castles, a surprising array of Gothic sculptures, spectacular views, glamorous ski resorts, secluded hiking trails, sophisticated and hearty food, abundant wildlife, Baroque village churches, Europe's largest casino, and 116,000 friendly inhabitants who value their independence so dearly that they managed to force the reigning Savoys to grant them a constitution as early as the 12th century.
Sheltered by the soaring peaks of Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa, the Matterhorn and a dozen other giants, Val d'Aosta has a milder, sunnier climate than the resorts on the northern side of the Alps. No matter what time of year, it's a great place to slow down and relax for a week or so. There are no world-class museums (unless you count Courmayeur's Duca degli Abruzzi Mountaineering Museum!), but there is so much to do we bet you won't be able to squeeze it all in.
- The lively mountain resort of Saint-Vincent makes a great starting point for our virtual tour of Valle d'Aosta's many castles.
- Thrill-seekers are unlikely to ever forget this breathtaking cable car ride over the Alps to Chamonix.
- Italy's oldest national park, Gran Paradiso, is in Valle d'Aosta. It's the
spectacular and very well organized home of the ibex, a unique mountain goat -- and now it even provides wheelchair
and sightless accessibility.
- There's a ski trail practically everywhere you look in this tiny region, as well as three world-class winter resorts.
- You won't find any Titians or Michelangelos in Valle d'Aosta, but there are some fascinating tiny museums your whole family can enjoy.
- Find the location, zip code, area code, province or region of a specific town.
- There's a colorful folk festival for every month of the year in Valle d'Aosta, with plenty of dancing, singing, pageantry and free food for all.
- You'll find tiny open-air markets selling wooden objects and lace in almost every town. Here are three of the best.