Aosta Valley, or as the locals call it, Val d’Aosta is a special region of Italy. While the Dolomites give a Swiss taste, the nuances of Aosta Valley are French. You will notice it in the local architecture, the dining table, and in the survival of an esoteric local language, Franco-Provençal or Valdôtain.
Living between old customs of the French Provençal and northern Italian, the locals have a hybrid culture known as Valdostan.
1- Aosta Valley – Italy’s Smallest Region
Yes, this amazing region is the smallest in Italy, and in such a small area, it offers more than you could ask for. It is located at the northwestern end of the peninsula, on the border between France and Switzerland.
Courmayeur is the jewel of the country and it is said to be the most important ski resort in the world and the cradle of mountaineering. it is also where the first school for alpine guides was born.
Another very important place, the Italian National Park established in 1922, the Gran Paradiso is the first in the context of its imposing mountains and magnificent valleys. It is where you can observe animals in their natural environment: chamois, golden eagles, marmots, and of course the ibex, symbol of the park.
Aosta Valley is a place of wonder, overlooked by some of Europe’s highest peaks, including Mont Blanc (4810m), Monte Rosa (4633m), the Matterhorn (Monte Cervino; 4478m) and Gran Paradiso (4061m). The region is the perfect place for skiing and it offers some of the best snow facilities in Europe.
2- Coumba Freida Carnivals
The Coumba Freida carnival is without a doubt a special carnival. The name Coumba Freida means “cold valley” and it was given to the area because of the cold blasts that blow in the valleys of Gran San Bernardo and the Valepelline.
The bad weather and the freezing cold of February do not stop the people to entertain themselves in the most special carnivals in Italy. February is very cold in here, but the warmth and passion of the most unusual carnival make it a pleasant month in Aosta Valley.
The tradition of this carnival event started in commemoration of the march through the Great St. Bernard Pass by Napoleon and his troops in May 1800.
The carnival costumes are called “landzette” are a conversion of the uniforms originally worn by the French soldiers. These costumes are totally handmade, decorated with beads, sequins, and small mirrors, which reflect the light and it is believed to banish evil spirits. part of the “landzette” are also the masks made of wood; while wearing these costumes, the people carry the horse’s tail in their hands and wear belts with a bell.
The parade takes the carnival characters in the homes of local families; they dance along the streets, the squares, eat, and drink. All the towns in the Valley have similar customs with some more or fewer accessories. It is definitely an unusual Carnival, full of mystery and history that is worth discovering.
3- The Legend of Pont Saint Martin
Pont Saint Martin is the most famous bridge in the Valley. The legend says that it was built by the devil in one single night. Saint Martin was the bishop of tours and it is said that while on his way back from Italy to his dioceses, the Lys river had swallowed the only bridge to pass through during a flood.
The devil proposed to solve the problem and build a bridge but with one condition, to take the first soul that would pass the bridge. The saint accepted and the next morning the bridge was built. He threw a piece of bread on the other side of the bridge and the first creature that passed was a dog trying to feed itself. It is said that the devil was furious and he vanished in the Lys amidst bolts of lightening and blasts of sulphur.
4- The Castles of Aosta Valley
Aosta Valley offers an exciting journey through time with its many medieval castles. These castles characterize the panorama of the Aosta Valley, found in strategic positions along the central axis of the region, these castles were a brilliant defensive model that kept the area secure back in the time.
There are many impressive castles that rise up in the magnificent alpine scenery of the Aosta Valley. The castles were mostly built in the Middle Ages by the powerful local families and later on modified that fully reflect the culture of the time and are perfect examples of the luxury ancient mansion.
To quench your curiosity, you can visit the castles by booking the entrance or a guided tour of the castles open to the public The most visited castles in the Valley are listed below:
- Savoy Castle
- Issogne Castle
- Verrès Castle
- Ussel castle
- Cly castle
- Fenis castle
- Forte di Bard
- Royal Sarre castle
5- Aosta Valley and its traditional sports
If the whole world is playing modern games nowadays, the people of Aosta Valley still respect and play their own traditional games. There are multiple games that were played since medieval times and earlier but among them, the most famous are Tsan, Rebatta, Fiolet, Palet, Valtournenche and Verrayes.
Most instagramable places in Aosta Valley
While being in Aosta Valley, try to get the best memories with you. If you are planing more than one day, you will be able to visit even the closest surroundings of the area. This region amazed people from all around the world and. The towns around Aosta Valley, the sightseeing, the narrow streets, the museums, the churches, and other attractions in the region will make your trip unforgettable.
Make sure you shoot some photos while on your journey and if you are looking for places to take Instagram-worthy photos, consider the following:
- Frazione Champillon
- Cappella Santissima Trinita
- The castles