Friday, August 29, 2014

Val d'Aosta. What we did on our holidays



This year we decided to explore the Valle d’Aosta a bit more thoroughly after an enjoyable few days spent here last year. We stayed like last year in a hotel on the edge of Aosta , which is very central if you want to tour the valley.

 We were lucky that the weather was mosly fine for the whole week, a miracle considering the summer we have had so far. I no Particular order here are some of the places we visited.

Val Veny  at the far end of the valley towards the French border is dominated by Monte Bianco and for me is the most spectacular valley in the Region.

Monte Bianco, Aosta

Monte Bianco, Aosta

Monte Bianco, Aosta
The road  rises steeply out of Courmaeur to arrive at a flat plain where one  can observe the glaciers on the other side of the valley below the Monte Bianco range. There is a very pleasant footpath along the river with some stunning views of the mountains.

Ice fall, Brenva Glacier, Monte Bianco, Aosta
At  a certain point the road has been closed  to traffic and there is no other alternative to putting one ones hiking boots for the tiring climb up to lake Miage. It is best to arrive early because parking space is very limited.  The hour and a half climb is well worth the effort. First for the view presents itself below the lake and then for the lake situated desolate landscape of debris left by the Miage Glacier.  
Val Veny, Aosta

Val Veny, Aosta

Val Veny, Aosta

Miage Glacier,Val Veny, Aosta

Lake Miage, Val Veny, Aosta

Lake Miage, Val Veny, Aosta

Miage Glacier, Val Veny, Aosta

Lake Miage, Val Veny, Aosta
We woke up and it was raining. The consensus was that this was a castle day. We decided to visit the famous castle at Fenis and if time permitted the less famous but we were told in the hotel, the much more interesting castle at Issogne.  Before leaving the Hotel we took the precaution of booking our tickets online as it5 gets very crowded here and places on the visits are limited ( last year we arrived here but could not get a place to see the castle).

From the outside Fenis has the appearance of a toy soldier castle which probably accounts for its popularity, Inside it is quite interesting  but nothing remarkable.
Fenis Castle, Aosta

Fenis Castle, Aosta

Fenis Castle, Aosta

Fenis Castle, Aosta

Fenis Castle, Aosta

Fenis Castle, Aosta
Issogne on the other hand is quite plain from the outside but most fascinating on the inside,. The thing that struck me was the fact that visitors from the fifteenth a to seventeenth centuries would often carve graffinti into the marvellous frescoes that the castle has. 

Issogne Castle, Aosta
Issogne Castle, Aosta

Issogne Castle, Aosta

Issogne Castle, Aosta

Issogne Castle, Aosta

Issogne Castle, Aosta

Issogne Castle, Aosta

Issogne Castle, Aosta

Issogne Castle, Aosta
Issogne Castle, Aosta

Issogne Castle, Aosta

At the top of the Valpelline one find an artificial lake formed behind a tall concrete dam. The water has an incredible turquoise colour. One can take the easy going footpath to the refuge at the  top of the lake.
Lac Du Place Moulin, Aosta

Lac Du Place Moulin, Aosta

Lac Du Place Moulin, Aosta
Another important mountain that we went to see is Monte Cervino or the Matterhorn above the town of Cervinia. Ten minutes and a steep climb  and you are out of the  town into the wilds below the mountain.
Monte Cervino, Aosta

Monte Cervino, Aosta
Last year we visited Val Rhemes Notre Dame. This year we visited its neighbour Valsavareneche, very pleasant but less spectacular.
Valsavareche, Aosta
Cogne is one of the most important tourist centres in Val d’Aosta. I found the spectacular waterfalls at Lillaz rather crowded. However the nearby Valnonte has a lovely botanical garden that very few seem to visit. I took a steep footpath up to an impressive waterfall . Probably  this is a valley best explored by foot up to the glaciered at the head of the valley.

Lillaz, Cogne, Aosta

Valnontey, Aosta

Valnontey, Aosta

Valnontey, Aosta
Valnontey, Aosta
The Castello di Sarre was the hunting lodge owned by the Italian Royal Familily. From here they would mount  hunting expeditions where the local wildlife was massacred on an industrial scale. Their hunting reserve now forms the Gran Paradiso National Park. The castle is  very particular. The walls and ceilings in the main rooms are decorated with hunting trophies and Chamois and Ibex  horns. It is a little bit creepy.  

Sarre Castle, Aosta
Sarre Castle, Aosta

Sarre Castle, Aosta
Sarre Castle, Aosta

Sarre Castle, Aosta

Sarre Castle, Aosta
Sarre Castle, Aosta


Sarre Castle, Aosta

 The nearby castle at Introd is quite interesting  but nothing special compared to the other castles we saw.
Introd Castle, Aosta

Introd Castle, Aosta

Introd Castle, Aosta

Introd Castle, Aosta
Introd Castle, Aosta

Introd Castle, Aosta
Pont d’ Ael  is a Roman aqueduct built over a deep gorge. It was built to carry water to a site where metal was worked. Athougt only has a single  arch, it is an impressive piece of Roman Engineering. 

Pont d'Ael, Aosta
Pont d'Ael, Aosta

Pont d'Ael, Aosta
Behind the little spa town of Pre Saint Didier lies a large gorge or in Italian “ Orrido” . Above the Orrido an observation platform has been built in steel that juts twelve metres out into the gorge. The distance down  to the bottom is over one hundred and eighty metres. Being cable supported it is not as rock solid as the Roman aqueduct  and the vibrations caused by walking on this walkway add to ones fear of heights.

Pre Saint Didier, Aosta

Pre Saint Didier, Aosta

Pre Saint Didier, Aosta

Pre Saint Didier, Aosta

Pre Saint Didier, Aosta
Pre Saint Didier, Aosta

High above the valley one finds some interesting little villages such as Vens and Ozien where it is possible to see some nice spontaneous architecture. The most notable features are the timber balconies and the roofs made up of very large stone slates.

 
Ozien, Aosta

Ozien, Aosta

Ozien, Aosta

 
Vens, Aosta

Vens, Aosta

Vens, Aosta

Saint Nicholas, Aosta

Our last trip was up to the French border on the Petit Saint Bernard pass. Here we are at a height of over two thousand metres, almost the height of the highest mountain in the Tosco Emilian Apennines. The border between Italy and France has all the signs of the turbulence of the Twentieth century with  bunkers and tank traps still in evidence. We had little time to explore this area, and it is a place we will return to if we return to  Aosta.

Petit Saint Bernard Pass Aosta

Petit Saint Bernard Pass Aosta



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