Eurfirst Trip to Aosta, Italy
Revised October 17, 2010
Tucked beneath Europe's largest mountains, not far from Mount Blanc and the Mont Blanc Tunnel through the French-Italian Alps, sits the quaint city of Aosta. If you arrive in Italy from the French Alps, Aosta is the first large city you will visit on a pleasant drive through hillside vineyards. It is the gateway to one of Italy's most spectacular regions, the national park Gran Paradiso where thousands of acres of alpine land has been set aside as a home for some of Europe's unique animals.
For one of the most memorable days of your journey (if the weather is clear and the winds are calm), travel to Courmayeur to ride the gondola around Mount Blanc to Chamonix. With the longest span of unsupported cable in the world, the cozy cable cars take you safely across the glaciers of Europe's tallest mountain, with spectacular views usually seen only by folks willing to hike for days across snowfields. Others use Aosta as the starting point for ski visits to Monterosa, Switzerland's highest peak, which is only an hour away. These high mountain resorts offer some of Italy's best skiing vacations.
The main tourist attraction in the city of Aosta are the Roman ruins that have been preserved near the center of the city. Signs from the highway will point you toward convenient parking. You can visit a Roman Theater and the arch of Augustus and the Porta Praetoria, the entrance through the wall that once surrounded the city. It is also a great place to organize a picnic lunch or enjoy a sit-down meal at one of the many local eateries. Try to get there before 11:30 a.m. or you may find that many stores and eateries have closed for a lunch break.
Aosta is the starting point for a day trip to the wineries of the region. This small wine region produces both reds and whites, with a specialty being its red Fumin wine. A detour to the town of Morgex will give you the opportunity to sample its unique Blanc de Morgex et La Salle.
Many Italians travel through the Aosta Region to visit Italy's first national park, Gran Paradiso. This mountainous sanctuary for many of Italy's alpine natives draws summer tourists to its beauty. In the winter, there are skiing opportunities in a region of unparalleled beauty. In the town of Valsavarenche, you'll find a reasonably-priced campground offering tent as well as bungalow and chalet space.
Driving toward Aosta from the French Alps
Roman Arches preserved near center Aosta
Remaining walls of the old Roman ruins
Steep slopes draped with grape vines