In the heart of Canavese, an area in Piedmont particularly rich in cultural and gastronomical itineraries, you will have the the chance to make your visit even more meaningful, with excursions to the Gran Paradiso National Park, to the medieval castles or to the five lakes tour. Very appealing is the opportunity to practice many sports in any season as well as participating to exhibitions, fairs, festivals and the historical carnival of Ivrea.
This event, rich of historical references and with a specific meaning, reaches its climax with the battle of oranges, which involves the whole town and thousands of visitors coming from all Europe.
The origins of Ivrea date back in 100 B.C. but the towns had its main splendor in medieval times. The historical centre still witnesses the Roman presence and is positioned on a hill on the river Dora Baltea. Visitors can explore town and learn about archeology, religious traditions and environmental themes.
Among the many places to see there is the Cathedral, St. Nicholas from Tolentino Church and the Seminar, where, in an inner yard, you can admire a mosaic floor. Behind the Cathedral, you will find the Three Tower Castle,originally a medieval prison.
In the area once occupied by the Olivetti plant, stands the Church of St. Bernardine, next to an ancient convent, where you can appreciate some frescos, representing the life of Jesus. Right outside town you can visit the ruin of a Roman amphitheatre.
The morainic amphitheater is one of the most important glacial origin complex of the Alps both for its extension and for the extraordinary level of conservation.
Extended over an area of approximately 600 km2 and altitudes between 200 and 850 m, the morainic amphitheater was generated during the Quaternary Era, in the Pleistocene (from 1.65 million to 10,000 years ago) by erosion operated by the Glacier Baltea: an enormous "river of ice" about 100 km long and about 800 m. high coming from the Aosta Valley, from the southern slopes of Mount Bianco. The moraine amphitheater is composed of homogeneous landscape units:
Lengthen hills, generated by the transport and accumulation made by the Glacier Baltea. They circumscribe the amphitheater and they arise as a huge arc of hills (which the most famous is the Serra in Ivrea) the perimeter is about 100 km to the north bounded by Mombarone and Monte Gregorio, mountain towers that constitute the access to the Aosta Valley. In them you can distinguish different groups of circles, referring to three different glacial stages. Great is the variety of environments: many rivers (Chiusella, Elvo, Vione), the lake basins (Alice upper Meugliano) and wetlands (bogs San Giovanni, Vialfrè, Alice Superiore).
THE ROCKY HILLS
They are one of the rare basic rocky outcrops of the worldwide. Located in the Northwest of the amphitheater, in the north side of the town of Ivrea, or in isolated limbs emerging from the plains they have suffered the erosive action of the glacier Baltea, resulting in the creation of depressed areas where there are numerous lake basins (Lake Sirio, Pistono, Countryside, San Michele and Nero) and marsh (Chiaverano bogs, Terre Ballerine), alternating with rocky hillocks, where flora and fauna typical of dry environments grow.
Formed by ancient and recent alluvial deposit, and surrounded by morainic amphitheater circles, it is washed by the waters of the Dora Baltea , Chiusella river and other smaller rivers. It features a variable pattern altitude as a result of the various phenomena of accumulation and erosion suffered during the centuries .
GRAN PARADISO NATIONAL PARK
The history of Gran Paradiso National Park is linked to the protection of the ibex. In 1856 King Vittorio Emanuele II declared these mountains a royal hunting reserve, thus saving the ibex from extinction. Its population in those years had been reduced to an alarmingly low level.
The king set up a corps of specialized guards and ordered the laying down of paths and mule-tracks which are still today the best network path system for the protection of the fauna by the modern rangers and form the nucleus of the nature trails for tourist excursions.
This predominantly hilly area with a mild climate and fertile terrain is particularly interesting in terms of its geology, natural environment and fauna; these unique qualities have encouraged the co-existence over the centuries of numerous animal and vegetable species and man. In fact, a number of archeological finds show that there were settlements here in the pre-Roman era. The microclimate allows typical plants from cold zones to flourish alongside plants usually grown in warmer climates, forming an ideal habitat for some species of toads and butterflies that have disappeared from the rest of Italy.
The lake zones, that include the lake and its banks, are populated from a great deal of birds since the vegetation offers a sure shelter to the couples that nest ,and its open waters are a calm place of standstill and feeding.
The five lakes are inhabited from the grey heron, the moorhen and the coot, from the great crested grebe, the mallar, the shoveler, the tufted duck, the kingfisher and from the shag, this last present only in winter.
The fishes that live in these waters are the largemouth bass, the carp, the catfish and the lake trout .
Lake Sirio is a small peri-alpine lake located close to Ivrea. Its beauty is the most important peculiar of the lake. The landscape is really suggestive the morainic cordon of the Serra di Ivrea" form a natural boundary with the region of Biella. The lake covers a surface of 0,31 km2 and a drainage basin of 2,6 km2. Its maximum depth reaches 46,5 m. the lake has not tributaries and an artificial outflow activating during precipitation events. The lake was originated mainly by glacial erosion during the Quaternary .
LAKE SAN MICHELE
It is the smallest of the Five Lakes of the "Serra di Ivrea". The lake San Michele is located in a rocky dip of glacial origin. Next to the lake there is a scenic headland from which you can reach the wonderful little church of the "Tre Re" built in the XI century.
The lake Pistono is located among Ivrea, to north and Montalto Dora, to west, and its surface is 650 meters length and 250 meters breadth. Local rivers ,fountains water flow in the lake. The water of the effluent, situated on the west side of the lake , gave the motive power to the mill of the village. On the bank of the Lake Pistono you can admire a wonderful fairy-tail landscape. To the back the horizon is marked by the profile of the "Serra di Ivrea", considered the most beautiful morainic hill in Europe, whereas forehead a little island makes even more picturesque the small basin of water.
The lake Nero (black lake), the most solitary and uncontaminated of the lakes of the Canavese sets among steep wooden hills, recalls images of battles and ambushes in the style of the most classical Walter Scott's stories. Rain water and two little rivers flow into the lake in the north part, the effluent is situated in the west part in the direction of the village Borgofranco. From the water of lake Nero come up a little island. The Monbarone mountain is reflected in the lake. This lake is inserted in a rustic scenery enclosed by a very thick vegetation that give to the waters a particularly dark color. For that reason thera are a lot of legends about this lake: the happy love of Leonora and Gualfredo, of the Trovatore and the Castellana; the histories of the local witches that someone still swears to see today with flaming little finger, lurking among the old abandoned houses.
In an area featuring great natural beauty and culture, the castles peer down from the hills covered with woods and vineyards, standing out against the chequer-board of arable land in the plain, and tower over the villages framed by the unique morainic amphitheater . Crossing the famous Castles Itineraries in a trip through time and spaces you could relive political events, court events, anecdotes, legends, spending from the medieval testimonies to the splendor and the rigor of the Savoy to the shade of large towers, mighty crenellated boundaries and green parks.
The castle of Ivrea was built in 1358 by the Amedeo Vi of Savoia the Green Count. The castle became the adobe of the Savoia that embellished it with tapestries, carpets, silvers, precious silks. The duchesse Jolanda of France, Luigi XI and Beatrice of Portugal ‘s sister, lived there, she gave the impulse to culture and art .In 1522 born the prince Adriano son of Adriano III. During the XVI century, in Canavese, begin the war between French and Spanish and the castle suffered a transformation from a rich adobe to a military garrison and in XVIII century the castle became a prison.
The Masimo Castle built in the 11th century and the residence of the Valperga family for almost ten centuries, dominates the town of Caravino and the plains of Ivrea from on high. Once a fortress built on a rock with four angular towers and surrounded by a ravine, today, the structure is "L-shaped" and characterized by a large round tower decorated with the genealogical tree of its founding family. The second cylindrical tower - smaller and shorter - is placed at a diagonal from the main tower, while the remaining two towers have been lowered and readapted. In one of these, the military chapel with the remains of Re Arduino is located. Inside the castle, there are many frescoed halls -the dance hall, the red room, the arms hall, the billiards room, the atlas room, and the ambassador's hall - which have welcomed such illustrious guests as San Carlo Borromeo, Vittorio Alfieri, Massimo d'Azeglio, Gioacchino Rossini, and Silvio Pellico - even if the most illustrious was, without a doubt, Cristina di Francia better known as Madama Reale. The castle, the property of FAI (Italian Environmental Fund) since 1987, is called the "balcony of Canavese" and is surrounded by an English style park and a small Italian style garden. Inside the park, oftentimes the setting for floral exhibits, there is a small Neo-Gothic temple as well as a carriage house with a rich collection of 18th and 19th century carriages.
The Aglie' Ducal Castle is an imposing and elegant Savoy's residence, and it goes back to the 12th century . It rears up on the splendid Canavese hills in the ancient village. The original nucleus of the Castle most likely dates back to the 12th century, an era in which the San Martino of Agliè family began to dominate Canavese.
Not one, but two Mazze Castles (Castello di Mazze). Nicknamed the "big castle" and the "small castle", they are united by a large park that encloses the fortified complex which the Counts Valperga had built in the 12th century. The smaller castle is also older and has a crenellated wall and a high, square tower with double lancet windows in terracotta. The square shape is reminiscent of the castle's larger central tower, which, for its part, is characterized by its rectangular layout, pointed windows, and perimeter walls that are crenellated and "closed" by towers. The castle is a two-storey structure: on the first floor is the Hall of the Throne (Salone del Trono) with frescos by Romolo Bernardi that finish on a lacunar ceiling; the Pink Room (Sala Rosa) is in a Baroque style and decorated with courtly themed medallions; the Gold Room (Sala d'Oro) has mosaic flooring and ceilings with 18th century frescos by the Galliari brothers; the Dining Room (Sala da Pranzo) in the Gothic style and is covered by a frescoed groin arch; and a bedroom (where Benito Mussolini slept) with several connecting rooms - including a library - with frescoed pavilion ceilings. In the medieval castle's ancient cellars, it is possible to visit the Museum of Torture with implements and methods from the Inquisition.
The castle, risen to 405 meters on the Crovero Mountain, was built between the X and the XI century and its builder is unknown, nevertheless it is known that toward 1000's it was constituted from a tower, a connection surrounded and a chapel devoted to the Saints Efisio, Mark and Eusebio. Annexed to the castle there was also a church entitled to Sant'Egidio, tha destroyed with the Castle and a lot of near houses during the war between Savoia and Monferrato. The castle became a fortress in the XIV century, period in which it belonged to the Committee of Ivrea. In March 1344 the castle was sold to the count Amedeo of Savoia who already owned the other feuds of the valley of Montalto (Montestrutto, Settimo, Castelletto e Castruzzone). From that moment the castle has suffered a long series of passages of ownership suffering many structural changes due to destructions, attacks and sieges. In 1403 De Jordano of Bard became liege lord of Montalto castle. He and his Family made radical changes to the structure of the castle and built new parts of it. Among the many attacks suffered the most devastating happened during the siege of Ivrea in 1641 by D'Harcourt troupes: in facts the building was dismantled in its inside but remained the same in its outside. The castle in the following centuries suffered numerous transfers and investitures and it was destroyed and rebuilt many times as long as in 1700 it returned to the Vallesas, that held it in ownership up to the extinction of the family happened the last century. The count Severino Casana in 1890 renovated the Castle according to the project of the architect and archaeologist Alfredo of Andrate. The renovation didn't change the angle turrets, the double lanced windows, the terracotta tiles windows and the battlements. In 1957 the castle has been purchased by the Real estate Society "Castello di Montalto" to take care of the renovations and to make a good use of it. The actual architectural structure of the castle has a double surrounded wall even if there are only some trace of the first wall. The plant of the building is an irregular quad with tall boundaries around 14 meters for a upper perimeter of 150. A big square tower in the inside dominate the whole building. In the courtyard of the castle there are a low construction that presumably was a guard post and a chapel that preserve a fresco representing the Holy Mary with child of the XV century. Between those two structures there is the well.
MALGRA' CASTLE (RIVAROLO CANAVESE)
In Rivarolo Canavese, on the right bank of the Orco River, the Castle of Malgrà was built between 1333 and 1336 as Martino di San Martino, lord of Rivarolo and Aglie and descendent of King Arduino, requested. Legend has it that the term "Malgra" is derived from the fact that the castle was built "malgrado" (notwithstanding) the opposition of the Valperga family, foes of the San Martino family, although the origin of the name probably comes from the site's place name. The setting of clashes between the two families, the castle was conquered by the marquises of Monferrato, allied with the Valperga, and only later sold to the Savoy who returned it to the San Martino family after an act of submission. In 1626, Ludovico Pievano di Pont, the last descendent of the San Martino family, ceded the fiefdom which became the primary property of the Cortina family, then of the Francesetti family, and finally of the Robilant family. After destructions and reconstructions, the castle was restructured by the architect Alfredo D'Andrade between the 19th century and the 20th century to whom we owe the exposure of the medieval structure. The Castle was acquired by the city in 1982.
The Via Francigena is a historical itinerary leading to Rome from Canterbury, a major route which in the past was used by thousands of pilgrims on their way to Rome. At the beginning of the 11th century mainly, a multitude of souls "looking for their Lost Heavenly Home" took the habit of travelling across Europe. This route bears witness to the importance of the practice of pilgrimage in medieval times; the pilgrim was to travel mostly on foot (for penitential reasons), covering about 20-25 Km a day,and was driven by a fundamentally devotional reason: the pilgrimage to the Holy Sites of Christianity.There were at the time three main centers of attraction for that journeying humanity:Rome, first of all, the site of the martyrdom of Saint Peter and Saint Paul; Santiago de Compostela, the place chosen by the apostle Saint James to rest in peace and obviously Jerusalem in the Holy Land. The pilgrim did not travel alone but in a group and he used to carry the pilgrimage emblems. Along these very same pilgrim routes, an intense trading activity was carried out and armies followed the same itineraries in the course of their movements. The original cities crossed by the via Francigena are: Canterbury, Calais, Bruay, Arras, Reims, Châlons-sur-Marne, Bar-sur-Aube, Besançon, Pontarlier, Losanna, Gran San Bernardo, Aosta, Ivrea, Santhià, Vercelli, Pavia, Piacenza, Fiorenzuola d'Arda, Fidenza, Parma, Fornovo di Taro, Pontremoli, Aulla, Luni, Lucca, Porcari, Altopascio, San Genesio, San Gimignano, Siena, San Quirico, Bolsena, Viterbo, Sutri, Rome.
Thanks to the work of the International Scientific Committee, we are today in a position to retrace this route on the basis of a document left to us by Sigeric, Archibishop of Canterbury. In 994, on his way back to Canterbury from Rome, he described the itinerary and the main stopping places along the way in his memories. Moreover, by agreeing to the requests of the local authorities involved,the Council of Europe has declared the Via Francigena a "European Cultural Itinerary.
THE CANAVESE AND THE VIA FRANCIGENA
The Romanesque architecture in the Canavese is represented by the traces of the most ancient religious buildings, as the cathedral of Ivrea and the Abbey of Fruttuaria, and, by an ample repertoire of churches of modest dimensions, as well, that suggestively rise in isolated country places or on the morainic hills that characterize the landscape of Canavese. The presence in Canavese of a rich patrimony of Romanesque (to XI and XII centuries) religious buildings arouse great interest in the collective imagination due to the historical events and the legends happened the Middle Ages in those buildings. There are the political and war stories of King Arduino of Ivrea around the year 1000,many buildings in Ivrea tell his deeds and legend: the cathedral of Ivrea that was the center of bad fights against the bishop Warmondo; the Abbey of Fruttuaria in San Benigno Canavese to whom in life Arduino was related by a political patronage and in which his mortal remain rested for a long time; the stronghold and the church of Santa Croce in Sparone where in 1004 he won the imperial troops of Henry II of Germany.
Put the ancient words epo, meaning "horse" , and reda , meaning "carriage" together and the world Eporedia is obtained, the place name chosen by the Romans when they founded what is now Ivrea. The name came naturally, as the inhabitants were for the most part horse trainers of quite extraordinary capabilities.
Walking through the city the visitor meets precious evidence of medieval splendour dating back to when Ivrea was surrounded by walls and divided into the thirds of City, San Maurizio and Borgo. This division no longer exists but the observant visitor may still notice a trace of wall which separates the upper town from the lower. The first sight to see is the Palazzo Vescovile, residence of Warmondo , on which the medieval Torrione del Vescovo sits,with notable friezes and dovetail merlons with tails. Then there is the Duomo of Santa Maria, the Cathedral was probably erected in the 4th century AD over a Pagan temple. It was reconstructed around AD 1000 by Bishop Warmondus in Romanesque style: of that edifice the two bell towers, some columns and the elegant frescoed crypt remain. The latter houses an ancient Roman sarcophagus which, according to the tradition, preserved the relics of St. Bessus (co-patron of the city together with St. Sabinus). A substantially new edifice, in Baroque style, was built in 1785. The current neo-classical façade is from the 19th century. The main art piece of the interior is the Miraculous Resurrection of a Child (second half of 15th century), attributed to Nicolas Robert. The sacristy has two pales by Defendente Ferrari. The cathedral is also seat of the tomb of Blessed Thaddeus McCarthy.
Chiesa di San Bernardino. The small Gothic church of San Bernardino is situated in the old outskirts of Ivrea, hidden by the modern Olivetti buildings. It was built by the Orders of Friars Minor starting from 1455 with is joined cloister. The church houses notable cycle portraying the Life and Passion of Christ by Giovanni Martino Spanzotti painted among 1485 and 1490. It represents the top of his artistic production. There are also other late gothic frescos of smaller value, today attributed to the painter Cristoforo Moretti from Lombardia. The church is property of the Olivetti family.
Chiesa di San Gaudenzio. It is a small jewel of baroque architecture attributed to the architect Luigi Andrew Guibert. This elegant little church, built among 1716 and 1724 on a small high ground ( once it was country out of the inhabit of Ivrea ) , now it is surrounded by the urban redevelopment. Inside the church it is preserved a notable cycle of frescos by Luca Rossetti from Orta with scenes devoted to the life of St. Gaudenzio, saint of the IV century presumably born in Ivrea ).
IVREA AND THE OLIVETTI
Ing. C. Olivetti & C., S.p.A. - the "first Italian typewriter factory" was founded by Camillo Olivetti on 29 October 1908 .
It had 20 employees and a 500 sq.m production workshop with a weekly output of about 20 machines. The company's first typewriter , the M1, was presented at the Universal Fair in Turin in 1911. Olivetti grew rapidly, building up a diversified product offer and opening subsidiaries in Europe and the rest of the world. In 1920 , the company presented the M20 typewriter; by the end of the 1920s, thanks to new forms of labour organisation and the introduction of mass production, it reached an annual output of 13,000 machines. While the number of sales branches multiplied in Italy, the company began its international growth, opening its first overseas subsidiary in 1929, in Spain, which was followed by operations in Belgium, Argentina and a number of other European and South American countries. Typewriter production expanded with the introduction of new models, including the first portable typewriter, the MP1, launched in 1932. During the 1930s and 1940s , Olivetti moved into teleprinters, calculators, office furniture and fittings. It also manufactured electric typewriters and calculators and began production of numerical controls. New manufacturing facilities were opened in Italy and, as from 1930, in other countries.
THE MAAM MUSEUM
The museum was opened in 2001 and develops around a mile and a half long walk along Via Jervis and the adjoined streets, an area in which the most significant Olivetti buildings stand.
Thanks to the variety of the area, the Canavese and its surroundings offer the opportunity to practice different sports, from those more extreme to those more relaxing meeting the different demands of everyone.
For the winter mountain fans we inform that in the range of 50 km can be practiced NORDIC SKIING , CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING, ALPINE SKIING, SNOWBOARDING and NORDIC WALKING (practicable also in summer) and for the one that also desires the ICE SKATING .
In summer the mountain offers to its visitors many other sports: the TRAKKING for every training level from the most experienced walkers to the easy walks for the whole family, the MOUNTAIN BIKING and the ROCK CLIMBING with the famous school of rock of the CAI in Traversella.
Our hills offer to the most picky sportsmen unforgettable emotions . The HANG-GLIDER or the PARAGLIDING are the ideal sports to stay in touch with the nature contemplating from the top the fabulous view of the Canavese.
In Canavese visitor can find different GOLF CLUB for example the Betulle Golf Club in Biella reachable by car in 20 minutes and La Mandria Golf club and many other Green. For those who want to approach a sport where the concentration and the precision are compulsory could attempt with the ARCHERY.
In the greenery Canavese, thanks to its rooted equine tradition visitors can practice horse riding in one of the many easily reachable riding school.
The lakes and the rivers as Dora Baltea river offer aquatic sport as CANOE, RAFTING and for the fans of GAME FISHING our mountain streams and lakes offer many varieties of fishes as the trout, the carp, the pike.
The waters of the Orco and the Soana rivers attract every spring numerous fans of this sport. The notable height difference, the variety of the courses enable to practice this sport at every training level. CANYONING :The glide with or without mountaineering technique is a sport that in these last years has involved many adventure lovers. The wealth of water and the presence of wild and deeply embanked gorges and gullies make the Canavese a perfect place for this sport.
The cuisine of the Canavese does not break with its ancient origins. Some may call it "poor" but it is in fact rich in wholesome ingredients of intense flavors. The soups, cured meats, cheeses and vegetables are exceptional.
THE TORTA 900
Only found in Ivrea, and only at Balla, the Torta 900 is a symbol of Ivrea. One that no one who finds themselves in this part of the world should miss.
The wines of the Canavese have for some time transcended local boundaries and become known and appreciated in the whole of Italy and, indeed, abroad. They are virtually all products of wine growers' cooperatives: this scheme allows them to have access to the best wine-making techniques and the most modern equipment and methods.
THE CAREMA D.O.C.
On the slopes of the mountains where the Piedmont ends and begins the Aosta Valley, a special wine is born: the Carema.
Strictly doc, a dry wine from the very intense flavor, to be samples chilled with fresh appetizers or with fish. It is produced in 35 villages of which the majority (31) are in Canavese, 3 in province of Biella and 1 in the province of Vercelli.
CALUSO PASSITO D.O.C.
Erbaluce di Caluso Passito Wine or Caluso Passito Wine is obtained with dried Erbaluce grapes. It is a luxury wine.
CANAVESE D.O.C. BARBERA
The Canavese Barbera is appreciated with red meats, cold cuts and matured cheeses while, the Nebbiolo is excellent with the game and medium-mature cheese; both served to 12-14° in goblets for young red wines. The White is served with main course dishes of fish to 9-11° in flared wine glass for young white wines; the Red matches with grilled red meats, stews and cold cuts, served to 12-14° in wine glasses for young red wines, finally, the Rosé matches with appetizers, first dishes as vegetables soups, with middle-mature dairy cheeses , served to 10-12° in big goblets.
THE HISTORIC CARNIVAL OF IVREA
To fill with colors and perfumes the city there is the famous and spectacular Battle of the Oranges, moment of great involvement and strong emotions.The traditional orange throwing has its roots in the middle of the XIXth century. Earlier and more precisely in the middle ages, beans were used in this battle. We are told that twice a year the feudal lord gave a pot of beans to the poor families who, out of disrespect, threw them into the streets. The same pulses were also used at carnival as fun ammunition to be thrown at the backs of unsuspecting adversaries. Around the thirties and sixties of last century, girls started to throw some oranges from their balconies onto the parade carriages together with confetti, lupins and flowers.
SAN SAVINO FESTIVAL
The 7th July of every year Ivrea celebrates the festival of its patron Saint Savino with the Fair of the Horses, one of the most important of Italy.
Turin was the first capital of modern Italy, and was the host of the 2006 Winter Olympic Games. You will be astonished by the daring lines of a style that, from the late 17th century, transformed Turin into one of the capitals of Baroque art. Magnificent Royal Residences and imposing church domes bear witness to the greatness of architects such as Guarino Guarini, Filippo Juvarra and Ascanio Vitozzi.
Turin is a city that became, from Roman camp and medieval town, the first capital of Italy, in 1861. Immerse yourself in the history of the period in a visit to Palazzo Carignano, where the magnificent chamber of the First Subalpine Parliament is still intact.
Five centuries under the Roman influence have left impressive marks in this town. After the defeat of the Salassi (the local population), in 25 B.C. Augustus founded a city. He gave it his name and stationed there three thousand soldiers of the praetorian cohorts: hence the name Augusta Praetoria Salassorum. It was the mark of Roman military colonization: a strategic centre to establish control over a newly conquered territory and over the way to Gaul. Born at the peak of an extraordinary town-planning experimentation, Aosta holds and summarizes the best architectural aspects of the Roman empire; it constitutes a sort of ideal city, a model which is still visible today in the preservation of the original layout and this most significant structures. The city is a rectangle bound by the city walls, that is subdivided into blocks crossed through with perpendicular roads. To prove its Roman past there are: the Augustian Arch (the entry to the town since the beginning of time) that was probably constructed in the same year as the foundation of the city, in honor of Augustus, the victor over Salassi; the City walls and the Towers which show the military and strategic function of Aosta. The Walls, in travertine rock, have a perimeter of 728 x 574 meters. At their four corners and far about every 20 meters stood the towers: some of these are still preserved; of the four city gates, the only one remaining is the eastern Porta Praetoria. It is considered one of the most beautiful and best preserved city gateways of the Roman World; The remains of the Amphitheatre are contained in the monastery of Santa Caterina and it could hold up to twenty thousand people, more than the entire population of Aosta.
Between the IV and V Century Aosta became a dioceses. Aosta is rich in Early-Christian evidences: beneath the Cathedral of Aosta foundations, paving, baptismal fonts, mosaics, stairways and tombs have been discovered. Together with the monumental complex of Sant'Orso, the contemporary one of the Cathedral represents the main expression of the Chiristian Art and Architecture in Aosta.
The Aosta Valley is a mountainous autonomous region in north-western Italy. With an area of 3,263 km2 it is the smallest, least populous, and least densely populated region of Italy. It is the only Italian region which has no provinces Provincial administrative functions are provided by the regional government. The region is divided into 74 communes.Some communes, concentrated in the valley bottomlands, speak a form of Gallo-Romance as their first language, while in the Lys Valley there is a Walser German speaking minority. The regional capital is Aosta.
It is the most mountainous region of Italy, entirely surrounded by the best known, splendid peaks of the Alps: the Monte Bianco, the Matterhorn, the Monte Rosa and the Gran Paradiso. The latter is at the center of a magnificent National Park, populated by beautiful specimens of ibex, chamois and eagle. Numerous glaciers feed a rich web of streams, which at the bottom of the respective valleys flow in the basin of the Dora Baltea. The distinctly Alpine character of this region can be seen in the pine forests, up to rather high altitudes, where they give place to large pasturelands. The small Alpine lakes, little jewels set in majestic mountain landscapes, are numerous. Thanks to the Monte Bianco's and the Gran San Bernardo's tunnels, the great historic passes are today important lines of communication.
It is a region where breathtaking nature preserved Roman and medieval monuments, castles, churches, artistic heritage and local traditions. It is a region where one can enjoy the life in open air with infinite opportunities for trekking, hiking, skiing, and other sport activities.
The valleys of Cogne, Valsavarenche and Rhêmes, which form the Gran Paradiso National Park and the valley of Valgrisenche. At about 14km from Aosta at 880m on a dominant terrace of the valley you meet Introd with its castle of the 13th century, a big round building dominated by a square tower standing in the central inner court (closed to the public). Near the castle there is an old farmhouse called l'Ola, one of the best examples of rural buildings in Aosta Valley .
Valsavarenche in the heart of Gran Paradiso national park is the best area for excursions to Gran Paradiso, the only mountain over 4000 m situated completely in Italy, and to the Grivola mountain.
The Rhêmes Valley is parallel to Valsavarenche. Driving upwards you first meet the quiet village of Rhêmes-Saint-Georges at 1218 m, starting point of several excursions during which you can see marmots, chamois, ibexes and also the lammergeyer, a recently arrival in the Region.
The other beautiful valley present in the area is Valgrisenche, which can be reached from Leverogne (Arvier) on a road climbing near a peak on which stands the sanctuary of Rochefort (once a medieval castle) near the village of the same name.
The wild landscape is dominated by Montmayeur tower.
At 1664m is the little village of Valgrisenche, with its parish church of the 14th cent. and its medieval bell tower.
The Ayas Valley should be mentioned for the handicraft production of sabots, wooden clogs used by farmers and today sought-after souvenirs; the production is "semi-industrial" as well as by hand (made by artisans called "sabotiers" followingtradition).
In the area you can admire several ancient devotional images painted on the walls and some sundials.
Gressoney Saint-Jean, at 1385m. an elegant summer and winter resort rich in culture and traditions; you can visit the Savoy .
At 1624m Gressoney La Trinité is a well-known alpine equipped village and frequented for winter sports and climbs on the Monte Rosa massif. With the nearby valleys of Ayas and Alagna, the valley of Gressoney is one of the largest skiing areas in the Alps, the "Monterosaski" In Gressoney valley several picturesque Walser typical houses are scattered, called "rascard" in all Aosta Valley, wooden hay lofts raised up on stone and wood pillars in the shape of mushrooms, to keep mice and damp at bay.
The predominant architecture of the area is Gothic, with touches of Romanesque. Roman artifacts are numerous, but it is the unique wooden and marble statuary created by local artists, much of which is exhibited in the Treasury Museum at the Cathedral in Aosta, that exemplifies Aostan art.
Originally inhabited by the Celti Salassi, the Aosta Valley was occupied by the Romans in the 25th century BC and was joined to the Transpadana Region. The Burgundi, Ostrogoti, Byzantines and Franchi succeeded in occupying the valley in subsequent years, and after the dissolution of the Carolingian Empire it passed in the hands of the king of Italy in the 10th century, later enduring the incursions of the Saracens. From the 11th century it fell under the power of Savoy with Tommaso 1st, interrupted by short occupations by the French in 1691 and 1704-1706. Napoleon crossed it in 1800 in order to enter Italy and he decided later to annexed it, along with Piedmonte, to France, from which it was detached with the restoration of the Sabaudo Reign. During the Second World War it was one of the main centers of the Resistance. Later it was declared an independent Italian region.
The craft tradition is deeply rooted in the history of our valleys. Today, it has become an art that is able to express an aesthetic language which goes well beyond our mountains. The true Aosta talent for craft activities (wood working, lace making and wrought iron) originates out of the age-old need to produce objects for everyday life, using raw materials that are available in that area. Today, the craft sector is an important means of attracting tourism as well as encouraging regional investment in production. Over a thousand people work exclusively in this sector. The thousand year old Saint Orso Fair, originally created as a winter market for the valley folk, is a real showcase for the artistic and craft production of the Aosta Valley. It takes place every year on the 30th and 31st January, together with an additional summer event, held in mid-August. But there are a large number of other fairs in many other Valley areas.
Known for its simple and genuine ingredients, but with centuries of tradition and elaborate preparation, gastronomy plays an important role in the regional culture. The cheeses, such as Toma and the famous and original Fontina, accompany the local specialties: polenta concia, carbonada, Valdosatana steak, and chamois meat and they are the main ingredients of the Fonduta alla valdostana, a mix of fontina, eggs, milk, and butter melted together to enjoy with bread. Other regional products are honey, all-bran bread, Arnad lard, Bosses ham and mocetta, a chamois dried meat. Val'Aosta produces numerous wines, with the official seal of denomination of origin. Donnas, Pinot Noir and Fumin are excellent reds, while one should try the Chardonnay, Morgex and Chambave Muscat which are three of the valley's best white wines. Grappa and genepi are local liquors to warm one up after a cold day of skiing or during a breezy summer night.