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Leaving Turin behind, you will set your sights today on the magnificant italian Alps. Drive north to Valle d’Aosta region to Bard, your first stop. Situated 381 metres above sea level, this quiet and picturesque town is narrowly placed between the rock on which the famous Forte sits and the mountain at the start of Valle di Champorcher.
Due to its strategic position, it has always been a bulwark against invasions and was therefore fortified in ancient times. The medieval district is perhaps the most important in the valley: it is a small gem with buildings joined together by arches, with mullioned and cross windows.
The fort that dominates the town, whose origins date back to medieval times (1034), is the most impressive building in Valle d‘Aosta military architecture and was built where the Salassi and Romans had already built their fortifications. In 1241 it was handed over by the Lords of Bard to the Counts of Savoy, who since then ruled the domain.
Bard - 1° Overnight
After your breakfast in hotel, spend the morning strolling the medieval streets of Bard. Late-morning, drive to Issogne and at your arrival lunch in the old village. The town’s main feature is a famous XV century castle, that stands on a spot once occupied by a villa dating back to imperial Roman times.
The castle belonged to an aristocratic family in Challant and is a huge square structure with corner towers and cross windows. Inside, in the courtyard, the so called “Pomegranate Fountain” in wrought iron with rich detail, is worth mentioning. The seven moons painted as frescoes under the courtyard portico are of significance: they depict scenes from local and artisan life at the time. The castle is a good example of residential architecture in the late gothic-renaissance period; the parish church of Santa Maria Assunta stands alongside it.
The Lords of Challant had undoubtedly made a careful assessment when they selected their property and decided to build what was to become the most noble bastion they had ever possessed. From the castle, in fact, the view extends from Champdepraz to Arnad and then loses itself among the mountains that continue into the Valley d‘Ayas.
After a short visit to Saint-Vincent, probably one of the most famous places in Valle d‘Aosta, thanks also to the “Casino de la Vallée“, one of the most renowned and largest casinos in Europe, in the evening you will arrive to Aosta for dinner.
Aosta - 2° Overnight
Today we suggest to make a excursion to Fenis and visit its spectacular and most famous Castle in Valle d‘Aosta; positioned in a beautiful clearing, it presents itself well with all the aspects typically found in a Medieval castle: embattlement wall and watch towers.
Late-morning before returning to Aosta, we suggest to drive to Valpelline and stop in one of its dairy where you can taste and buy the famous cheese Fontina, “the white gold” of the Valley. Then continue to the small village of Arnad for a wine testing in a cellar.
Finally you can return to Aosta. It is to be found at the centre of the Valley of Aosta. Capital of the autonomous Valle d‘Aosta Region, it was founded by the Romans in 25 B.C. and is located in the point where the physiographic catchment of the Dora Baltea reaches its maximum width and where the main roads heading to France and Switzerland converge.
Rich in monuments from pre-historical, Roman, medieval and later times, Aosta is also of interest thanks to some less well known aspects of the so called “lesser” art, such as ancient roads, fountains, wash-houses, votive chapels, sundials, historical houses and courtyards.
Some of the more memorable monuments include the megalithic area of Saint-Martin de Corleans, due to be opened to the public in the near future. It offers a wealth of remains from Roman times, such as the Praetoria Gate, one of the few examples from Roman times still perfectly intact, the Theatre, the forum Cryptoporticus, the perimeter of the boundary walls almost completely intact, a well preserved extra muros villa and the magnificent Augustus’ Arch.
It is also home to two masterpieces of Medieval art, the Cathedral and San‘Orso, real treasure chests of masterpieces such as the Ottanian frescoes in the garret, floor mosaics, the wooden choir, the treasure museum for the Cathedral and the frescoes, wooden choir and enchanting cloisters in the Sant‘Orso Collegiate.
Aosta - 3° Overnight
Entire day at the Gran Paradiso National Park. We suggest a panoramic stop among orchards and vineyards of Aymavilles, in the shadow of the castle’s battlements of the family Challants. The afternoon continues in the park and a nature guide accompanies us in this former hunting reserve, since 1922 the first Italian national park.
The walk of about two hours will allow us to know the habitat of the Alpine ibex or steinbock, with its lush vegetation of larch, red pine and spruce. Aosta is waiting for us to return to a typical dinner.
Aosta - 4° Overnight
In the morning you cannot miss the crossing of Mont Blanc, an amazing experience made possible by cable car of Mont Blanc, in a few minutes covering over 2,000 meters in altitude. During the crossing, which offers a magnificent view of the glaciers and the great peaks of the Alps, you can visit an alpine botanical garden and the crystal exhibition of Mont Blanc. In case of bad weather or closure, replace the cable car trip with the tour with a walk in the valleys of Mont Blanc.
Before lunch we take a leisurely stroll to discover Courmayeur, the pearl of the Alps. Another castle is the protagonist of our afternoon: the Castel of Sarre. Built in 1710 on the ruins of a fortress mentioned as early as 1242, having passed through various hands, the property was purchased by the King of Italy Victor Emanuel II, who renovated it and used it during hunting expeditions in Val d‘Aosta.
In the evening return to Aosta for dinner.
Aosta - 5° Overnight