Valle d'Aosta is renowned for its beautiful landscapes, the harshness of its mountains and its Roman ruins, but it is also an important gastronomic destination since it has an excellent dairy production and a cuisine that knows how to make the most of mountain scents and flavors.
The recommended itinerary starts in Pont Saint Martin, on the border with Piedmont, and ends up in Breuil-Cervinia, the famous ski resort on the slopes of Mount Cervino, after traveling through many interesting environmental, historical and culinary locations.
The main access to Valle d'Aosta is through Pont Saint Martin (345 m a.s.l.). Its most important monument is the bridge that gives its name to this town. It was built in the times of the Via delle Gallie, and it remained the only access to the Valley up until 1831. The legend says that the bridge was built by the devil, who was cleverly cheated by Saint Martin: this is the reason why this town is called Pont Saint Martin. Very typical of this place is the Mercà del Ghett, a little market that sells natural and handicraft products. It takes place every second Sunday of July and August on the bridge and in the historical center of the town.
Along the Via delle Gallie there is Donnas, the old capital of the Lower Valley, which was an important center during Roman times. This town has many medieval artifacts, such as beautiful houses with mullioned windows with two lights and ancient door. The wine production of this area is especially good in quality. The most important product is Doc Donnas, a bright red wine with hints of almond and called by many as the Barolo of the Mountains. Every year a grape festival is held (on the second Sunday of October) dedicated to this wine. Many local producers participate in this festival, competing for the Grappolo D'Oro prize.
Further on there is Arnad, a small town famous for the making of the Lard d'Arnad, a tasty and scented cured meat seasoned with salt, spices and mountain seasonings. The Lard Festival is dedicated to this pearl of the traditional Valle d'Aosta gastronomy. It has reached its 30th edition and is held every year on the last Sunday of August. It includes the exhibition and free tasting of family-made lard. Another refined product is Anrnad Monjovet, a red wine made with Nebbiolo grapes and belonging to the Regional Doc area. Before reaching Verres, one should visit the church of Saint Martin, a small Roman jewel, and the ancient Sanctuary of Machaby, just outside the town.
Verres is reached after leaving Arnad. It is dominated by an important manor-house situated on a big rock to guard the passage that leads to the Ayas valley. In the historical center it is possible to visit the collegiate church of Saint-Gilles, built in 1000 A.D., and the annexed church of Saint Aegidius that was built on an old Roman church.
Another activity that one should not miss is an excursion on the far bank of the Dora Baltea River, to the Issogne castle that has famous frescoes and an original wrought-iron pomegranate in the garden. Starting from Verres, up along the Evançon River, one first reaches Brusson, a resort situated among gardens and old wooden houses, and then Champoluc, with Mount Rosa standing in the background. The famous Fontina Dop cheese comes from these summer alpine pastures. It is the main ingredient of many local dishes such as Fondue, polenta grassa (fat polenta) and dumplings with Fontina cheese.
Once through the narrow Monjovet pass, one arrives in the so-called Media Valle and in Saint Vincent that stands on a gentle hill of a valley cultivated with fruit trees and vineyards. This town is famous for the therapeutic properties of its waters and also for the Casino de la Vallée, one of the most famous and largest casinos in Europe.
From Saint Vincent one easily reaches the nearby ski resorts of Col de Joux, Torgnon, Chamois, Valtournenche and Breuil-Cervinia, that is also one of the best production areas of Fontina.