Aosta Valley – Things to Do
The Aosta Valley – known as the Val d’Aosta to Italians – is Italy’s smallest region in both area and population. Located far north, the region is almost entirely comprised of mountains. Although the amount of mountainous geography, which includes famous peaks such as Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn, may mean that there is less inhabitable space in the area, it serves as a wonderful draw for travelers looking to enjoy outdoor sports. From skiing in the winter to hiking in the summer, locals and tourists alike can enjoy the natural wonders of the Alpine area without the flocks of crowds which typically dominate the Swiss section of the Alps.
And while the region is known for its amazing ski resorts and outdoor activities, the rich history and vibrant culture of the Aosta Valley means travelers have a variety of activities to keep them occupied. From unique local festivals to interesting cultural museums and tasting the amazing local cuisine, the Aosta Valley has plenty of things to see and do.
FESTIVALS & EVENTS
The locals in the Aosta Valley are, like all Italians, passionate people who love to celebrate and honor their history. Travelers who visit the region have a wide variety of local events, festivals, and carnivals to choose from that are guaranteed to be as lively and entertaining as they are culturally significant.
At the Valle d’Aosta Festival, travelers can enjoy entertainment of all kinds – music, art exhibitions, miming, clowns, comedians, jugglers, and more – along with delicious local food and wine. However, the festival is about more than entertainment. It also serves as a platform to give two regional honorary awards. The Amis de la Vallée d’Aoste grants honorary citizenship to people from outside the region who have made a positive impact on Valle D'Aosta's prestige. While the Chevalier de l’Autonomie honors Aosta Valley citizens for their contributions to local culture, politics, science, sports, and more.
To honor the history of the town of Etroubles, the Etroubles Veilla Festival features reenactments of old customs and traditions. Held each August, travelers can enjoy food from local restaurants, traditional musical performances, and a parade.
For those interested in mountaineering, the Alpine Guides Festival occurs in various towns across the region and features amazing displays of mountain and rock climbing in celebration of the first successful ascent of Monte Bianco.
In the city of Verrès, travelers can enjoy the Verrès Carnival – an amazing event that consists of parades and a ball held in a castle which overlooks the city. Other carnivals throughout the region include the Coumba Freida Carnival series and the Pont-Saint-Martin Carnival.
There is nothing more picturesque than spending the holidays surrounded by the lush mountain landscape of the Aosta Valley. The region is alpine by nature, making for a postcard-worthy backdrop to a family holiday.
Whether skiing, snowboarding, or sledding, the snow and mountains are ready to enjoy. Afterward, retire to one of the area’s many ski resorts to sip coffee, tea, or hot chocolate by the fire.
The Aosta Valley is also known for its incredible Christmas markets. One of the most famous, the Marché Vert Noël, transforms Aosta’s Roman Theatre into an amazing alpine village, complete with an array of seasonal decorations, traditional Nordic handicrafts, and local culinary specialties that evoke the culture of the region as well as the festive flavors of the season. Other Christmas markets are held in various locations all throughout the area. Each offers a magical atmosphere in which to spend the holidays.
With the region’s stunning mountains, it comes as no surprise that the Aosta Valley is known for its incredible outdoor activities. From winter sports to summer exploration, this region is one of the best places to fully immerse in nature.
The area features 28 ski resorts – among the most famous of which are Ayas, Breuil-Cervinia, Courmayeur, and La Thuile – at which travelers can enjoy world-class slopes for skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, mountaineering, and more. Even those who don’t consider themselves winter sporting enthusiasts will have fun alpine activities to enjoy, such as sitting by a crackling fire at one of the resorts, experiencing exciting dog-sled rides, mountain walks while wearing snowshoes, and visiting local historic shops and museums.
When the weather warms up, travelers can enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities, including trekking and hiking in the mountains, canoeing and rafting on the water, horseback riding through mountain passes, paragliding off cliffs, fishing, golf, mountain biking, and more.
One of the region’s biggest draws is the Gran Paradiso National Park. Spanning the valleys of Cogne, Rhemes, and Valsavarenche, the park covers approximately 270 square miles and is home to some of the country’s most important and unique species of plants and flowers. The park is the perfect place to see wildlife while hiking or biking.
The Aosta Valley is known for its magnificent woodworking. The attention to detail and high quality of the Aostan woodworks are truly unparalleled. In local shops, travelers can witness the skilled craftsmanship firsthand and purchase traditional furniture, bowls, plates, barrels, clogs, and more.
For those who want to spend some time indoors, the Aosta Valley features a wide variety of museums to experience. The region has a vast, rich, and multicultural history, which is preserved throughout its museums. From history to art to archaeology and science, there is something for everyone.
Some of the best museums in the Aosta Valley include:
* Regional Archaeological Museum, Aosta
* Aosta Valley Craftsmanship Museum, Fenis
* Museum of the Alps, Bard
* The Duke of Abruzzi Alpine Museum, Courmeyeur
* Treasure of the Cathedral, Aosta
For a truly unique museum experience, visit Fort Bard (home of the Museum of the Alps). This fortress complex was built in the 19th century by the House of Savoy and contains a permanent exhibition called “The Prison.” Held in the prison’s 24 cells are short films, documents, 3D reconstructions, and more – all detailing the fortress’ rich history.
For those looking for stunning views, there is no better way to see the Alps than by taking a ride on the cable car at Monte Bianco. Like traditional Swiss cable cars, the ride at Monte Bianco offers visitors once-in-a-lifetime views as well as access to unique shops, restaurants, and more.
There is also a thermal spa in region, allowing visitors to enjoy steam baths, underwater relaxation, mud baths, pools, and a historic casino, all surrounded by the gorgeous Mont Blanc mountain range.
The Roman Theatre is a must-see for visitors to Aosta, as it is a favorite for both locals and tourists and captures the essence of Aosta’s Roman roots. This ancient Amphitheatre can be reached by paved footpaths which surround the ruins. Lightshows are held to highlight the beauty of the theatre’s architecture.
For the perfect day in nature, visit the Lillaz Waterfalls. Located in one of the Valley’s most scenic areas, the waterfalls are found at the end of a road which is lined with wonderful mountain villages, pine trees, and natural creeks. It’s the perfect location for a picnic!
The Matterhorn (Mount Cervino), the area’s most notable mountain peak, is ideal for taking guided mountain excursions. Visitors can check out the local shops, taste regional cuisine, and of course, take photos of the iconic peak.
Thank you once again Tommaso for helping my clients have the best experience possible in Italy! Susie B. Town & Country Travel Carroll,
Ciao, ti ringrazio molto per un tempo cos grande che abbiamo avuto a Courmayeur. Tutto era grande, l'Italia, la gente, meteo, Sci, grappa, g