It lies on the north-west extremity of Italy, between the Graian Alps and the Pennine ones, bordering on Switzerland to the north, on France to the west,, on Piedmont to the south and east. It streches for 3262 square Kilometres. The territory is mainly mountainous and the average altitude is 2100 metres. It is divided into 12 valleys.
Valle d'Aosta is located in the most Nortwest part of the Italian peninsula. This region is the smallest (3,262 square kilometres), the most mountainous and the least populated (118,000 inhabitants) in Italy. Besides, this Italian region is the most dependent upon tourism for its economic well being. In fact, more than a third of the regional income is drawn directly or indirectly from activities related to tourism.
Valle d'Aosta's tourism comes from its geographical position. First, it is situated amid the highest mountains of Europe (Mont Blanc, Matterhorn, Mount Rosa and Gran Paradiso). Second, Valle D'Aosta borders both France and Switzerland, and is in close proximity to the three important cities that compose Italy's "Industrial Triangle": Turin (100 km), Milan (180 km) and Genoa (240 km). Reaching any of the three "Industrial Triangle" cities merely requires an easy drive on the motorway. France and Switzerland are accessible via trunk roads which link them to the motorway. Today Alta Valle (High Valley) and Mont Blanc can be quicky reached thanks to the new motorway section that was recently opened to Morgex. This will be further extended to the entrance of the Mount Blanc Tunnel. On the other side, Great St. Bernard will be easily accessible once the new link road between the motorway and the trunk road is completed. Once opened, travellers to Switzerland will no longer have drive through the city to reach their destination.
A main feature of Valle d'Aosta, besides its geographical position, is that it is one of five Italian regions regulated by a special statute. The statute provides Valle D'Aosta with vast autonomy which is not only administrative, but also legislative. Here, there is the power to legislative in several sectors which are specifically attributed to its competence. The autonomy is based on geographical, economic and linguistic reasons. In fact, Valle d'Aosta is characterized by perfect bilingualism. Here, both the Italian and the French languages have equal dignity and importance in the school system as well as in the institutional and administrative fields. Hence, this favors both tourism and trade in general. Valle D'Aosta's bilingualism originates from the frequent cultural, economic and family relationships that the inhabitants of this region have always had with the French of Savoy and the Swiss of Valais. These relationships were, and still are today, easy thanks to the widespread use of a Franco-Provencial dialect. This dialect shows some differences when spoken by the French, the Swiss and the Italians, but it is easily understood by all citizens of this region.
Valle D'Aosta is made even more interesting by the Walser community, of old Swiss-German origins, living in Gressoney valley and speaking its own dialect.
Despite its name, the Valle D'Aosta region does not consist of one valley. Rather, it is made up of 13 lateral valleys which extend off of the main valley. Each one has its own handmade goods as well as cultural, architectural and gastronomical traditions. Travellers coming up from the South of Italy find, counter clockwise,Gressoney valley and Ayas valley. Both of these are situated at the foot of Mount Rosa.Valtournenche is next and rises towards the majestic Mount Cervino. Following this is Great St. Bernard valley which leads to the name-sake Hill which is also originating point of the Valpelline. Afterwards are the two tributary valleys of Mont Blanc, Val Ferret and Val Veny. Then comes Little St.Bernard valley, with name-sake Hill;Valgrisenche, and Rhêmes valley. Finally, there is Valsavarenche and Cogne valley at the foot of Gran Paradiso, and Champorcher valley.
Today, the variety of landscapes and the different features of the various districts allow Valle D'Aosta to present itself to Italy and the world as varied, yet complete offering. There are large international locations such as Courmayeur and Breuil-Cervinia, where ski slopes of any level with the latest equipment and first-class hotels are available. Over the last few years, places like La Thuile, Ayas and Gressoney (Mount Rosa skiing) and Pila have been linked; these are small localities which are more suitable for family groups, where it is possible to practice the downhill skiing or cross-country ski racing at locations such as Antey-Saint-Andrè, Brusson, Chamois, Champorcher,Cogne, Crevacol, La Magdeleine Flassin,Rhêmes-Notre-Dame, Torgnon,Valgrisenche and Valsavarenche. Valle D'Aosta overall has 513 hotels with over 23,500 beds. For skiers, there are 600km of downhill slopes, 188 modern ski-lifts, 300km of cross-country ski courses, 918 downhill ski instructors and 152 cross-country ski instructors, 172 alpine guides and 110 mountain warming huts.
The region's tourism is not limited exclusively to the winter season. Summer is full of new initiatives for both nature loving individuals and for those who wish to enjoy fully, without winter harshness, the numerous corners of the Valley. Here, the flowers and foliage are spectacular and it is possible to relax thanks also to the 20 woodland areas strewn throughout the region, which are equipped for picnics. Those who decide to discover the genuineness of the country environment can find accomodations in one of the 41 farm locations. Traditional meals are offered by 867 restaurants, many of which are well known for their cooking.
During the summer the long days allow visitors to focus their attention on the numerous artifacts of human history which cover the region. Here, history dates back to the Neolithic Age (3000 b.C.), the Roman Age and the Middle Ages of the 800s. Historical and artistic treasures can be found in Aosta and in thecentral valley: Augustus' Arch of Triumph, Porta Pretoria, an Amphitheater, a Theater, Cathedrals, St.Orso collegiate church, medieval towers and an archaeological Museum. Among these finds, castles take the lion's share. The most visited ones are Fènis, Issogne, Verrès, Bard, Saint-Pierre and the Castle of Savoy at Gressoney-Saint-Jean.
On the contrary, sportsmen can have a wide range of possibilities: gliding, hang-gliding, touristic flights, tennis, squash, sauna, golfing, mountain biking, riding, riding-trekking, ice-skating, swimming, canoe, kayak, rafting, hydrospeed, free climbing, archery and target-shooting ... tourists have a wide choice!
TEL. ++39-165/236627; FAX ++39-165/34657
(it is opened every day from 9:00 to 13:00;
on Sunday from 15:00 to 20:00)