Valle d’Aosta Italy 10 Fun Facts - Digging Up Roots in the Boot

Valle d’Aosta Italy 10 Fun Facts

Ciao tutti! Welcome to The Best of Italy, a video series on Digging up Roots on the Boot’s YouTube Channel.  Alessia is going to share 10 fun facts about Valle D'Aosta, Italy.  It is one of 20 Italian Regions in Northern Italy.  Watch the video and continue reading below. Also, be sure and subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss out on new video posts.

1Valle d'Aosta - Italy's Smallest Region

Valle d’Aosta is the smallest and least densely populated region in Italy.  It is an Alpine valley tucked away in the Northwest Italian Alps, bordering France and Switzerland.  This tiny region is also the only region in Italy that is not divided into provinces. 

Valle d’Aosta is a bilingual region.  So, the official languages are Italian and French.  Also, most of the population speak a dialect called Valdôtain.  In fact, about half of the population can speak all three languages. 

2 Mont Blanc also lies in Valle d'Aosta

Mont Blanc meaning White Mountain is the highest mountain in Italy.  Of course, it also lies within France and Switerland. Not surprisingly, it is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world.   Unbelievably, the youngest person to climb Mont Blanc was a 10-year-old boy in 2009.  As a result,, several attempts have been made to break the age record.  To date, none have been successful. 

3 Valle d'Aosta Regional Dishes

Valle d’Aosta, like every other region in Italy, prides itself on its regional dishes.   Specifically, the Aosta Valley dishes are rich in cheese, soup, and meat. 

The most well-known cheese from the region is Fontina. It has been made from Alpine grass-fed cows milk since the 12th century.

 In additon, a specialty soup of the region is minestra di castagne e riso.    It is thick rice and chestnut soup cooked in milk. 

Also, Capriolo alla Valdostana is a popular hearty meat dish in Valle d'Aosta.  It is stewed venison in red wine with vegetables, herbs, grappa and cream. 

4 Aosta - The Capital City of Valle d'Aosta

Roman history can be seen throughout the capital city o fAosta.  For example, there is the Arco d”Augusto, built-in 25 BC after the Roman victory over the Salassi. 

In the same year, construction began on the Criptoportico Forense.  It is a covered passageway typical in ancient Roman times. 

Some decades later, a Roman theater with a capacity of about four thousand was built.  Additionally, an amphitheater that held 15 thousand was built around the same time. Today, the remains stretch along three blocks of the original Roman road.

5 Sports unique to Valle d'Aosta

Valle d'Aosta is home to a few unique traditional sports.  Namely, Tsan, Fiolet, Rebatta, and Palet Valdostano are local sports. But, Palet is also considered a regional sport. Now, let’s take a look at Fiolet. 

Fiolet is played as an individual or team sport.  The objective is to bounce an egg-shaped ball called a fiolet off a smooth stone with a tapered wooden mallet.  Then, you must hit it as far as you can while it's in the air.  The further the ball goes across the field, the more points earned. 

6 Coumba Freida Carnivals

Coumba Freida is an area in Valle d’Aosta between Valpelline and the Great Saint Bernard Valley.  In total, there are ten towns that celebrate the areas history with month-long carnivals. 

Some say that the carnival recalls the passage of Napoleon and his troops in 1800.  Indeed, the costumes and masks that they wear mock the soldiers who ransacked their villages. 

On the other hand, others say that the carnival began because villagers were too embarrassed to wear formal clothing to a wedding of two elderly commoners. 

7 The Alpine Ibex  is Protected in Valle d'Aosta

The Alpine Ibex is a species of wild goat in Valle d”Aosta.  They used to be hunted for sport and their body parts.  To clarify, the Alpine Ibex are thought to have therapeutic properties and provide protection against violent death. 

In 1922, Gran Paradiso National Park became Italy’s first national park to make an attempt to protect the Ibex.  Unfortunately, the poaching continued until 1945 when only 419 remained. Today, with increased protection, there are almost four thousand Ibex in tGan Paradiso Nation Park.

8 The Legend of Pont Saint Martin

Pont Saint Martin, in Valle d’Aosta, is home to the Post Saint Martin Roman bridge.  According to the legend, while San Martino was passing through Via Francigena on a pilgrimage he made a pact with the devil. 

First, the devil would build a bridge in one night in exchange for the soul of the living being that crossed the bridge.  The next day, San Martino freed a dog on the bridge, which was brutally killed.  In return, the devil left the inhabitants alone. 

The legend is recreated every year at a carnival. 

9 The Castles of Valle d'Aosta

Valle d’Aosta might be Italy’s smallest region, but it is packed with majestic castles.  Some of the castles were built for defense.  Whereas, others were grand residences.  One of the oldest castles, Forte Bard, was originally built in the 10th century.  Unfortunately, it was destroyed in 1800 by Napolean.  Subsequently, It was rebuilt in 1830 after the fear of future attacks subsided. 

In contrast, the Savoy castle is one of the more modern castles.  It was built between 1899 and 1904 for Queen Margherita.  As a rule, she spent her summers there until 1925.  Today the castle is owned by the region of Valle d’Aosta. 

10 Valgrisenche Drap

Valgrisenche is a small village known for weaving Drap.   Drap, french for cover, is a rustic fabric made from sheep's wool on antique looms.  At first, the fabric was used as bed sheets, and it was available in limited colors. 

Today, Drap is available in a wider variety of colors and geometric designs.  Nowadays, it is used for furnishings, table cloths, and purses. 

Do you know any other fun facts about Valle d'Aosta?  Let’s talk it out in the comment section below. Also, be sure and watch our other fun fact videos on Italy’s 20 regions and read our blog posts on Italy’s 20 regions. Thanks for watching and reading 10 fun facts about Valle d'Aosta. A presto!

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LauraLee

I am a proud third generation Italian American dedicated to promoting the richness of Italian cultural heritage.

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