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The Val d'Aosta

Monte Cervino (aka the Matterhorn) 4478m

 

Link to the nearby Colle del Gran San Bernardo and Monte Bianco

Link to the nearby Colle del Piccolo San Bernardo

Link to Col de Montgenevre Pass

 

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The Alps Alpine Passes (with links)
Monte Bianco 4807m Colle d. Gran San Bernardo 2473m

Monte Cervino (The Matterhorn)

(below below)

4478m

Colle d. Piccolo San Bernardo

2188m

and the Val d'Aosta (below)   Col de Montgenevre 1854m

 

 

View from the Italian entrance to the Monte Bianco Tunnel, November 2007.

 

 

 

Heading north up the Val d'Aosta

 

 

Heading up the dramatic Val d'Aosta towards Aosta itself and then the Monte Bianco Tunnel, on a misty November morning.  If you have time, try stopping off at the Castello Challant (Issogne), 40km before Aosta.  There you can see inter alia "shopping frescos" -  a tavern, a pie shop (right), a grocer, a draper, an apothecary and a market scene.  Instead, you could buy this most interesting book (below right and right), where all 6 are included in the illustrations:

 

 

 

"Pie Shop" fresco photo from "Shopping in the Renaissance"

 

 

         

 

 

 Buy from Amazon USA

 Buy from Amazon UK

 

 

View from the hotel window

 

 

Summer evening detail from the photo at the top of the page

 

 

The Val d'Aosta has for centuries been the route to the main trans-alpine passes from North East Italy to the rest of Europe.  Even Hannibal may have brought his legendary elephants this way in BC days, and Aosta itself was an important Roman garrison town.

 

By the early centuries of the second millennium,  the area had become part of the Via Roma - the medieval pilgrims' route from Canterbury to Rome (coming back from Rome it was known as the Via Francigena).  The sometimes steep sides of the valley are dotted with stone towers and castles belonging to medieval "toll collectors".

 

Later, S Vincent developed as a spa town, and later still it built a casino, now claimed to be the biggest in Europe.

 

All of this, plus proximity to the year round ski centres of the Vallis Tornenchia leading to Breuil-Cervino and M Cervino (the Matterhorn), means that the whole area offers a profusion of large hotels with musty rooms, noisy bars and absent car parks - choice without choice!

 

We were lucky to find La Rocca *** (right) which is just below Chatillon and away from the main drags.  Modern spacious rooms, car parking at the front door or underground, friendly family staff, good cucina and excellent value for money.  Thanks also to Stefano for his help and in particular his suggestion to take a couple of hours out to visit Breuil-Cervino at the foot  of the majestic Matterhorn (see below).

 

"La Rocca"

 

 

The old via Francigena winds through Chambave and many other little valley towns, now bypassed by a main road and latterly a motorway.

 

 

 

The Alps Alpine Passes (with links)
Monte Bianco 4807m Colle d. Gran San Bernardo 2473m

Monte Cervino (The Matterhorn)

(below)

4478m

Colle d. Piccolo San Bernardo

2188m

and the Val d'Aosta (above)   Col de Montgenevre 1854m

 

 

The Matterhorn (Monte Cervino)

 

 

 

 

The Vallis Tornenchia, the valley of the river Marmore, provided the basis for the new mid 1900s road which transformed the tiny mountain hamlet of Breuil, into the ugly ski resort of Breuil-Cervino - Italy's largest.  Even in July, if you would prefer to ski rather than play golf, a sophisticated lift system will take you up to year round glacier ski fields.  And the ugliness of "chalet city" is reduced to insignificance by the majesty of the 4478M Matterhorn (M Cervino).  The road up the valley also passes a number of attractive looking hotels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morning July 2005

 

 

 

Evening July 2006

 

 

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