In the northwest corner of Italy (north of Turin) lies a magical region that receives few tourists. The natural beauty of the Aosta Valley along its historical treasures makes it one of my (many) favorite spots in Italy.
A view of the Aosta Valley from Pont-Saint-Martin, near the southern end of the Valley.
The snow-capped mountains, rushing rivers, numerous waterfalls, castles and ancient Roman ruins all combine to make the Aosta Valley magical. The Valley leads north to the St. Bernard Pass and into Switzerland, an ancient route through the Alps that has been used since Roman times as a trade route and for invading forces (including Napoleon) to conquer the Italian peninsula. (Going west leads to Mount Blanc and into France).
First century CE Roman road and tunnel in the Aosta Valley. Ruts from chariots in the road are still visible.
Stairway leading up to the Roman road, with a carved column on the opposite rock wall.
Another relic of ancient Roman times, Pont-Saint-Martin, gives the town its name.
The town of Verrès, a beautiful small town that has a castle overlooking the town and valley.
Verrès Castle, a 14th century castle open to the public, sits on a rock outcropping above the town of Verrès (note the slate roofs on the right). Unfortunately I lost my camera here with its pictures of the castle’s interior! Luckily all my other pictures of Italy were backed up on a computer.
Because the Valley was such a popular thoroughfare for centuries, medieval lords built numerous castles in the Valley to protect their domains from invaders. Some of these castles are open for visitors while others are inaccessible due to their locations. As you drive through the Valley you’ll see castles on the surrounding hillsides.
There are castle ruins almost at every turn, overlooking the Aosta Valley.
Saint-Pierre Castle, near the northern end of the Valley. It is currently not open to the public.
Another old castle (I don’t know its name) in the Aosta Valley. There are about 70 castles surviving in the Valley, some of which are open to the public.
Another view of Aosta Valley with Sarre Royal Castle (18th century) on the left.
We stayed at a little boutique hotel, La Bicoque, just north of the town of Aosta. Not a bad setting for our continental breakfast!
More to come on this magical area. I will write separate posts on the town of Aosta, Bard Fortress, Fènis Castle and Savoia Castle. Stay tuned!
Years since I was in the area – reading this has prompted me to revisit!
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