The central valley: the gateway to the heart of the Alps
The stretch of the main valley, crossed by the Dora Baltea river, that connects Pont-Saint-Martin to Aosta, is the ideal starting point to easily reach many side valleys leading to the highest peaks in Europe.
A holiday in these places is the best choice for those who are looking for a vacation away from the major tourist flows, dedicated to rurality and food and wine, to rediscover old traditions still alive. As a matter of fact, here you will find many mountain farms and educational farms that will open their doors to let you know about their production and let you taste their delicious specialities: honey, chestnuts, walnut oil, cheese and cold cuts, among which the Aosta Valley Lard d’Arnad PDO produced in the homonymous municipality of Arnad stands out. And how not to mention the wines produced by cooperative wineries or small private producers, whose “heroic terraces” are clearly visible along the mountain slopes.
The central valley is the ideal starting point for visiting most of the castles in the Aosta Valley: the Bard Fort which, with its permanent museums and exhibitions of international interest, offers an interesting journey through history and culture, the fascinating castle of Issogne, well-known for its lunettes and still rich in original furnishings, the fortress of Verrès, reachable through a pleasant and panoramic walk, the castle of Ussel, the first example of a single-body manor in the region, the Gamba Castle, with its park rich in monumental trees, and, finally, the most famous castle of Fénis.
But where to stay?
You can choose one of the characteristic medieval villages, among which Bard – one of the most beautiful villages in Italy -, Donnas – where in January the thousand-year old Sant’Orso Fair takes place, just a few days before the most known one in Aosta -, Montjovet – with its beautiful stone portals and windows.
Otherwise, you can immerse yourself in the peace and rurality of the villages on the sunny side of the Aosta Valley, where time is marked by the rhythm of nature and the working of the land, including Arnad, famous for the production of the Aosta Valley Lard d’Arnad PDO, Verrayes, rich in chambres d’hôtes and wineries, Nus, Saint-Marcel and Fénis, where most of the mountain farms, holiday farms and educational farms are located.
And how not to stop off in Saint-Vincent, the so-called “Riviera of the Alps”, with its thermal baths with therapeutic properties, shops and restaurants, its Casino, one of the largest and most prestigious casinos in Europe, and its wonderful sunny hillside leading to Col de Joux?