The Italian town of Aosta (Aoste) is a condensed history and natural beauty that will certainly inspire the visitor. An original “mini-Rome” in the middle of the western Alps. A stopover in Aosta (Aoste) is definitely worth it to enjoy the town filled with several historical monuments and surrounded by the highest European peaks.
Aosta in Italian or Aoste in French are both the official names of this lovely town in the Italian valley of the Mont-Blanc. Roughly 30 km away from the Italian exit of the Mont-Blanc tunnel, on your way to Milan, Venice or Rome. Here the atmosphere clashes with the Italian stereotype: The town is sheltered in the middle of a narrow Alpine valley, between the grandiose peaks that sharply attain 3,142 m (Becca di Nona) right on its western and 2,607 m (Peak Chaligne) eastern edges. Although locals mostly speak Italian, the official languages and, therefore, signs are both in Italian and French. Like everywhere in Italy, you can eat tasty pasta “al dente” (neither squashy nor stiff) and succulent pizza at restaurants. Instead, most traditional local recipes contain melted cheese, bread, potatoes, polenta, sausages, dried cow meat, lard, game and cabbage.
Like most of Italy, Aosta (Aoste) hosts several historical vestiges. At the crossroad between two main routes connecting the Italian peninsula to the rest of Europe, Aosta played a strategic role over the centuries. The Roman walls still surround part of the town, with a squared brick tower (Tour du Pailleron) welcoming the visitors coming to Aosta by coach and train. There is also a real Roman Arch that dates back to 25 BCE, proudly showing off to visitors reaching the town by car. Nearby, a small Roman bridge stands mysteriously. In the old town, the Roman entry gates and the nearby Roman Theatre are impressive. The old town does not only witness the architecture that Roman, Middle Ages, the Renaissance and later centuries have left -there are churches, palaces, the Saint-Ours cloister, and rounded towers that stand in the old town. Piazza-Place (square) Émile Chanoux shows finely designed 19th century urban architecture.
Outside the old town, there are still interesting places not to miss: The Megalithic area - archaeological museum and park and the very small but charming Church of Saint-Martin de Corléans in the west boroughs of the town. Still on the west-side, the monument of the Capitoline she-wolf was not built by the Romans, but during the Fascist dictatorship.
Only a few minutes’ walk from the railway station, a funicular can bring you quickly to the hamlet of Pila and its extensive network of ski slopes. Lovers of winter sports will certainly enjoy. From Pila, you can experience stunning views on Aosta from the above, as well as on the entire Italian valley of the Mont-Blanc (Valle d’Aosta or Vallée d’Aoste). The funicular service also operates in summer: You can hike around or simply appreciate staying in the middle of the nature at only a few minutes’ ride from the civilisation.
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