The particular geographical situation of the Aosta Valley, a real corridor between the water catchment areas of the Po and the Rhone, was decisive for the historical destiny of the region since the Neolithic, when man entered it through the Alpine hills after the last great glaciation.
The Romans built an important road artery through the valley, which forked to reach the hills of the Piccolo San Bernardo (Alpis Graia) and the Great San Bernardo (Alpis Pœnina). It constituted for centuries – and in part still constitutes – the backbone of international traffic that crosses the Aosta Valley and favored its economic development, particularly in the Middle Ages, when the Champagne and Geneva fairs gave a significant boost. to traffic across the Gran San Bernardo.
The commercial flow declined in the course of the modern age due to the conflicts that involved the dominions of the House of Savoy, alternatively allied to France, Spain and Austria or their opponent, but above all to the economic choices of the Savoy government which privileged the axis Turin-Lyon road through the Mont Cenis; it only regained full force in the last few decades, thanks to the construction of the Gran San Bernardo (1964) and Mont Blanc (1965) tunnels.
Next to the Piccolo and Gran San Bernardo, which conveyed the major long-distance traffic, a large number of minor passes ensured daily communication between the Valle d’Aosta and neighboring valleys, on the Valais, Savoyard and Piedmontese slopes and favored the trade of foodstuffs , livestock and short-range artifacts.