At 580mt above sea level, Aosta is the capital of the Val d’Aosta region.
Quiet and fascinating, the city has an ancient and very complex history, it was known as “the Rome of the Alps”, it was born as Augusta Praetoria, founded following the victory of the Romans over the Salassi.
Even today many of the ancient Roman buildings survive, the Augustus Arch, the Roman Theater, the Bridge and the Amphitheater, imposing buildings symbolizing the wealth and importance of the city in Roman times.
The city of Aosta is located in the center of the region, in a flat area, completely surrounded by imposing mountains, Mont Emilius, Becca di Nona, Testa del Rutor, Grand Combino and Mont Vélan.
Located near the main roads leading to Switzerland and France, Aosta is located a few kilometers from the tunnels of the Gran San Bernardo and Mont Blanc, and the Alpine passes of the Piccolo San Bernardo and the Gran San Bernardo.
History of the city of Aosta
The city of Aosta was founded in 25 BC. by the Romans, following the victory of the Roman Empire against the Salassi, an ancient Italic population of Ligurian-Gallic origin who lived in the territory of the Dora Baltea, with the name of Augusta Praetoria.
The new Roman city had the primary purpose of controlling the valley of the Dora Baltea river and the neighboring territories controlled by the Gauls.
At the fall of the Roman Empire, the city of Aosta passed under the control of the Burgundians, following the struggles between the Emperors of Germany and the Italian princes, it was then subjected to the control of the Lombards, the Goths and the Franks, to then pass under the control of the Marquises of Monferrato and Savoy.
In 1191 Aosta obtained, by the will of Thomas I, the Charter of the Valdostane Freedoms, which provided for a new method of payment of taxes, and sanctioned the creation of the offices of bailiff and vice bailiff, these offices remained in function until 1773. In this period the Assembly of the Three States was also created, which represented the Clergy, the Nobility and the People. In 1414 the Valle d’Aosta hosted the neutrality treaties between the sovereigns Charles V and Francis I, keeping, in fact, out of the bloody clashes that saw the two powers confront each other.
Starting from 1691 the valley was attacked by the French, who imposed the payment of heavy taxes, again in 1703 the French occupied the region, and in 1704 the Fort of Bard was conquered by the Swiss colonel De Redding. With the Treaty of Utrecht, signed between 1713 and 1715, the valley experienced a period of relative peace.
In 1800 Napoleon conquered the city of Aosta and united it with France, creating the Dora department, fifteen years later, the valley returned to the Savoy family again, and in the middle of the Risorgimento it was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy.
What to see in Aosta
The city of Aosta is famous for its architecture and its ancient monuments, the period of Roman domination has in fact left precious testimonies, imposing buildings such as the Arch of Augustus, the Porta Praetoria, the Roman Theater, the Forensic Cryptoporticus and the Cinta Masonry. The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, the Collegiate Church of Sant’Orso and the Ponte-Aqueduct date back to the Middle Ages. Of particular interest are the city towers, Torre Plouve, Torre dei Signori della Porta di Sant’Orso, Torre Fromage, Torre dei Balivi, Torre di Brafamam, Torre di Pailleron, Tourneuve and Torre del Lebbroso.
Porta Praetoria: it is one of the most important and significant monuments of the city of Aosta, the gate is located in the southern section of the walls and was the main access to the Augusta Praetoria city in Roman times. The door consisted of three openings, still visible today, a larger central one for the passage of wagons, and two smaller lateral ones for the passage of travelers. The area inside the gate was the parade ground. Particularly interesting are the hollows in the ground, still visible today, due to the passage of the gates that were closed in the evening, and the imposing marble slabs that once covered the entire door.
Arch of Augustus: along the road that once led from the Buthier stream to the Porta Praetoria, stands the Arch of Augustus, imposing and majestic, characterized by its round arch, 8.29 meters wide. The side columns are decorated with Corinthian-style capitals.
Forensic cryptoporticus: dating back to the Augustan era, the cryptoporticus was born with the function of containing and regulating the land in a sloping area, creating a small difference in height between the sacred area and the area used as a forensic stalls. The function of this kind of buildings was to create a sort of separation between the sacred and the profane, therefore between sacred places, such as temples, and places of political and social life. The cryptoporticus consisted of a marble colonnade, of which unfortunately no traces remain today, the monument was divided into three areas arranged in a horseshoe and internally housed two aisles with vaulted ceilings with lowered arches, the galleries received lighting thanks to the presence some windows that also ensured the exchange of air.
Roman Theater: built in Roman times, originally this imposing theater could accommodate up to four thousand spectators. Today only the southern section remains of the original structure, with a considerable height of 22 meters, characterized by a series of arches and windows of various shapes and sizes. The steps that housed the spectators, the orchestra area and the stage wall that once housed statues, marbles and columns are still visible today.
Cinta Muraria: the ancient city wall of the city of Augusta Praetoria surrounded the town forming a rectangle of 724m x 572m. The external curtain was made of travertine blocks while the internal one of river stones and mortar.
Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta: it was built in the ancient sacred area in Roman times around the fourth century. The original structure was very impressive, with a single nave and two baptisteries, and was directly connected to the cryptoporticus. During the 11th century the Cathedral was frescoed with Ottonian art frescoes, making Aosta, in fact, one of the most important European cities of Ottonian Art. At the end of the 11th century, two towers and a central apse were added. In the 13th century a circular ambulatory was built around the choir. But it is between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries that the Cathedral experienced its period of maximum splendor, in fact in those centuries the Bishops of Aosta worked on an important restoration of the church, giving it numerous works of art. Particularly interesting is the high altar, in Baroque style, made of black marble, with colored inlays, while a sixteenth-century and a neoclassical section can still be distinguished on the facade.
Collegiata di Sant’Orso: the area on which the collegiate stands originally housed a necropolis and, in the fifth century, a series of early Christian buildings, including the Church of San Lorenzo. The base of a funerary building dating back to the 4th century was also found inside the church. The collegiate church was rebuilt and enlarged in the 9th century and the bell tower added in the 12th century. Inside the church, among the most important works, you can admire a wooden choir from the 1400s and a cycle of Ottonian frescoes from the 11th century.
The towers : one of the most iconographic elements of the city of Aosta are certainly its towers, the most important are the Torre Plouve, of Roman origin and of which today only imposing ruins remain, the Torre dei Signori della Porta di Sant’Orso, of medieval origin, carried out the function of notarial archive, Tour Fromage, dating back to the 11th century today the seat of cultural events and exhibitions, Torre dei Balivi, which from 1430 to 1626 served as the seat of the bailiff of Aosta, Torre di Bramafam, of medieval origin, was the official residence of the Challant viscounts in Aosta, Torre di Pailleron, a Romanesque tower that originally served as a warehouse for straw, Tourneuve, dating back to 1200 is one of the few examples of cylindrical tower in Aosta, and finally the Tower of the Leper, built in the Middle Ages on the basis of a pre-existing Roman bastion, it is called Torre del Lebbroso because from 1773 to 1803 it hosted Pietro Bernardo Guasco, ill with leprosy.
Weather forecast Aosta
Hotel in Aosta
Aosta is a famous summer and winter tourist destination, its strategic position makes it ideal for all types of outdoor activities, hiking, cycling, mountain biking, trekking, rafting, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and mountaineering. Hotels in Aosta are certainly the ideal solution if you are looking for comfort and relaxation, many offer wellness centers and relaxation areas for a break after a day of hiking or skiing. But an excellent solution is also represented by residences and apartments. Finally, a note on farmhouses, perfect for a holiday immersed in nature, here more wild and unspoiled than ever.
Recommended hotels in Aosta:
Le Reve Charmant, an elegant residence in the heart of the city of Aosta, has 3 apartments 6 six bedrooms. The apartments are furnished in a modern style but maintain the traditional Aosta Valley architecture, the rooms are designed to be small oases of relaxation. A wellness center is available for guests. Via Vaudan Marchè, 6, 11100 Aosta AO – +39 0165 238855
Chambres d’Hotes La Moraine Enchantée, this characteristic hotel was born from the restoration of an ancient 17th century rascard, you can choose to stay in the rooms or apartments, all characteristic in architecture and furnishings. Fraz. Clapey, 1 11020 Gressan – Tel. +393664304311
Maison Besenval, in the main square of Aosta, in the historic center, is a characteristic apartment, furnished in the Aosta Valley style. Piazza Emile Chanoux 14, 11100 Aosta AO
Casa Bellini, a few minutes walk from the historic center of Aosta, this private apartment is the ideal solution for a holiday in Aosta. It is located in front of the Arch of Augustus and has a room used as a garage for skis or bikes. Piazza Vuillermin Renato Nr, 7 terzo piano interno 1, 11100 Aosta AO
Le Parfum Du Sel B&B, is a beautiful and traditional B&B in the village of Jovençan, a few km from Aosta. Housed in an elegant villa surrounded by a large garden, two suites and two standard rooms, a relaxation area in the garden and a Jacuzzi are available for guests. Frazione Rotin n. 46 Jovençan AO – +393486406384
Restaurants in Aosta
Traditional Aosta Valley cuisine is one of the most particular and tasty, potatoes, turnips, leeks, onions, cabbage, savoy cabbage are the ideal ingredients for traditional soups, with the addition of rice and cereals. Rye bread widely spread throughout the territory, but also the use of corn flour. And then the cheeses, first of all the Fontina, which takes its name from the Alpeggio di Font, the meats, especially the game, such as the roe deer … in short, in Aosta you are spoiled for choice! The excellent restaurants in the city offer the most authentic local cuisine, with simple and genuine ingredients and ancient recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation.
Among the best restaurants:
L’OFFICINA DELLA PASTA, Via Sant’Anselmo 65 – Tel. +39 0165 040005,
LA BOTTEGACCIA, Via Sant’Anselmo 90 – Tel. +393888169229,
IL VECCHIO RISTORO, Via Tourneuve 4 – Tel. +3901653238,
LA VINERIA Via Sant’Anselmo 121 – Tel. +390165610143,
LA CHAUMIERE, Frazione Signayes Clou 111 – Tel. +39016540940,
OSTERIA LA VACHE FOLLE, Piazza Cavalieri di Vittorio Veneto 14 – Tel. +390165230845,
RISTORANTE CROIX DE VILLE, Via Croix de Ville 25 – Tel. +390165230738.