Linked to Piedmont by a historic umbilical cord, as well as a kind of elective affinity, Valle d'Aosta has toiled to detach itself from the common matrix represented by the French culture, which the people and intellectuals of this land adopted in honour of the "Petite Patrie".
"I believe that this is the only land - wrote one of the greatest Italian literary critics, Natalino Sapegno, born in Aosta, - that has conserved in its language, beliefs, gestures and affection, at least part of the traditions of the old Savoy Piedmont that I have at heart...". A spirit of community that perhaps only existed in the tenacity and traditional will to "detach oneself from Piedmont", a desire that Sapegno shared with other fellow historians and countrymen, Francesco Chabod e Alessandro Passarin d'Entrèves.
Besides the "Grande Patrie", of an Italy never repudiated but ever far away, the inhabitants of Valle d'Aosta, after national unification, began to study the history and the traditions and grant literary dignity to the franco-provencale dialect. The separation from the French culture, under the emblem of the supreme need "to be Italians", certainly left a cultured heritage, a fibre of lasting inheritance in the blood of the inhabitants of Valle d'Aosta, but in the name of this need respect of the French-speaking minorities was sacrificed. Not by chance, within the Valle d'Aosta Resistance autonomist tensions resorted and even dreams of annexation to France, which sank their roots in the impotent anger against the Fascist regime, brutal midwife of a forced Italianisation and bureaucratisation.
With the galleries of Monte Bianco and Gran San Bernardo, the resources of the Saint-Vincent casino, the development of the ski stations of Cervinia and Courmayeur and the "sale" of the landscape resources, the indomitable spirit of Valle d'Aosta, besides finding a balance between the separatist pressures and the fear of disintegration of the State, have filled the hole in the regional budget caused by the abandon of the mountains and the agro-pastoral economy.
Fruit of a morphological isolation, the gastronomy of Valle d'Aosta is centred on the mountain pasture and the preservation and conservation of meats. A need deriving from the difficulty in movement and therefore from the need to preserve products for a long time.
At the base of many typical regional dishes is Fontina, a Pdo cheese that has permitted the creation of the fonduta (fondue) and the polenta concia. The other Dop cheese of the region is Valle d'Aosta Fromadzo. But the milk of the Valle d'Aosta piebald cows, the wealth of this territory and father of esteemed cheeses is not the only resource, they also produce "feta de tetoun", a cold meat produced from the udders of the animal, that in Gignod, at the end of August, gives rise to a famous fair.
If from Gignod one goes on to Saint-Rhémy-en-Bosses to not be missed is the feast of Jambon de Bosses, a unique and extraordinary regional Pdo ham, in alliance with the lard d'Arnad, obtained from the shoulder and back of the pig, for whose tastiness the "secret" mixture of preserves made with aromas and herbs amongst which pepper, laurel, sage, rosemary, cloves, cinnamon, juniper, nutmeg and yarrow is responsible.
One cannot but mention the only Doc quality wine of the region, Aosta, produced in twenty-three different types, amongst which the optimal "Enfer d'Arvier".
A basket of certified products that, after having been unexplainably banished from the Italian table for centuries, equally mysteriously have made a come back to transform the regional gastronomy from a simple extra into the prima donna of the Italian cuisine.