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Last updated : Nov 2007
Valle d'Aosta
Valle d'Aosta - TravelPuppy.com
A ruggedly scenic region, sitting at the foot of Europe’s highest mountains, Cervino (Matterhorn), Gran Paradiso, Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa and bordering France and Switzerland.

Valle d’Aosta is politically autonomous and to some extent culturally distinct from the rest of Italy. French is spoken as a first language by most of the inhabitants. The picturesque ruins of countless castles, some of which are open to the public including, Fenis and Issogne, testify to the region’s immense strategic significance before the era of air travel, it was the gateway to two of the most important routes through the Alps, the Little and Great St Bernard Passes. However, the Mont Blanc Tunnel has largely superseded the St Bernard Passes as a major overland freight route.

The Gran Paradiso National Park is home to wildlife including the chamois and ibex and is a popular destination for hillwalkers and climbers. There are several fine ski resorts in the area, most notably Breuil-Cervinia and Courmayeur. One of Italy’s few casinos is found at St Vincent.

Aosta

The principal city of Valle d’Aosta has many well-preserved Roman and Medieval buildings. The massive Roman city walls remain mostly intact and, the old town retains the grid-iron street plan characteristic of all such military townships. An impressive gateway is the Porta Pretoria, formed the main entrance into the old Roman town. During the Middle Ages a noble family lived in the gatehouse tower, which now houses temporary exhibitions. Further ancient Roman sites include the Teatro Romano, where theatrical performances are still staged during the summer, and the Arco di Augusto, erected in 25 BC to honour Emperor Augustus, after whom the city is named (Aosta being a corruption of Augustus).