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If you are looking for a European tourist destination, consider the Aosta Valley region of northern Italy bordering France and Switzerland. Depending on your interests, this beautiful area might be an ideal vacation spot. You can get classic Italian food, and wash it down with fine local wine. Although it is by far the smallest Italian region, the Aosta Valley boasts about 150 historic castles, forts, and towers. Its Alpine skiing is some of the best in Europe.
The medieval village of Bard is near the Piedmont border. Visit its historic mountain-top homes and the Forte di Bard that obstructed Napoleon’s progress for almost two weeks. He had it destroyed. The fort was reconstructed in the Nineteenth Century.
St. Vincent, a spa resort for well over one hundred years, is home to the Casino de la Vallée. It is one of the largest casinos in all Europe and a favorite of jet setters.
Breuil-Cervina is a skiing village at the base of the Matterhorn. There are about 200 kilometers (120 miles) of ski runs on the Italian side of the mountain, said to be best for intermediate-level skiers. Experts will prefer the Swiss side of the mountain.
The city of Aosta has about thirty five thousand residents, more than one quarter of the region’s total population. It was a Roman garrison two thousand years ago. The Arch of Augustus commemorates Rome’s victory over a Celtic tribe. Be sure to see the Eleventh Century Gothic Collegiate Church of Saint Orso. The Porta Praetoria (Pretorial Gate) is still in good shape, some two thousand years after construction.
We end our tour of the Aosta Valley at Courmayeur on the sunny side of Mont Blanc. Yes both easy and difficult ski slopes are lacking and it is sometimes overcrowded. But it’s beautiful, and night life abounds. In the summer take the Télépherique de l’Aiguille du Midi and enjoy the spectacular view of a French glacier.
Aosta Valley cuisine is strongly influenced by five hundred years of French rule. The real Fontina cheese comes only from the Aosta Valley. See our companion article I Love Touring Italy – The Aosta Valley for a sample menu and more information on Aosta Valley wines as well as an in-depth examination of the area’s tourist attractions. Very little Aosta Valley wine is sold in North America. So that gives you another reason to visit this beautiful region.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his website www.travelitalytravel.com devoted to Italian travel with an accent on fine Italian wine and food. Visit his central wine website www.theworldwidewine.com with weekly reviews of $10 wine and columns devoted to various aspects of wine including wine and food, humor, trivia, organic and kosher wine and lots more.Click to access the original, longer article on this Italian tourist location.
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