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"Touching the sky" in Aosta Valley

Aosta Valley in Italy Provinces included: Aosta, border with France
Places visited: Champoluc, Courmayeur, Cervinia Valtournenche, Cogne Valley, Chanousia
Length of Itinerary: suggested 4-5 days

Description of the Itinerary

The Aosta Valley is a land of majestic summits, unimaginable serenity, so far away from the frantic rhythms of everyday life in the cities: an embrace with the true spirit of nature. Here the landscapes fill the eyes, and the silent music of nature enchants the ears.

The itinerary starts at Champoluc, inside the Monte Rosa Ski area, a paradise for skiers of course, but also for those who love ice-skating, paragliding, and further south in the valley, cross-country skiing. Champoluc is the main centre in the Val d'Ayas, at the foot of the Monte Rosa glacier, a snowy paradise in winter, an explosion of flowers in the summer.

The itinerary leads us then to Breuil-Cervinia, where the Cervino with its majestic beauty challenges the Mont Blanc itself. The view of the Cervino mountain is breathtaking, as it suddenly appears at the exit of the Valtournenche tunnel. Beside winter sports, there is also summer skiing, trekking and cycling itineraries, local delicatessen shops and renowned, stylish boutiques. The ski area of Cervinia and Valtournenche is also connected to the Swiss Zermatt. Throughout the Valtournenche there are many picturesque villages, each one a precious jewel in the heart of the Alps. One of these villages, Chamois, at 1800 mt a.s.l. is the only Italian commune that is not reached by a road, but only by a cableway from Buisson.

Leaving the Valtournenche, we move towards the Cogne Valley, once a mining district, today a renowned cross-country skiing area in the heart of the Gran Paradiso National Park, the reign of chamois and roebucks. The park offers paths and hiking trails from the quite easy to the more difficult. Here even the houses have their own architectural style and appeal, and there is also the regional tourist fishing reserve.

We proceed then to Courmayeur, the other main tourist destination in the region, at the foot of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe, a favourite destination of the European jet-set, but also the hometown of the earliest Alpine mountaineers. If you love mountaineering, you will surely welcome a visit to the Museo Alpino Duca Degli Abruzzi, which preserves documents, photos and items of the Courmayeur mountain Guides, their expeditions and ascents, since the early 20th century.

From Courmayeur an easy descent will take to the sunny La Thuile valley, where the traditions of mountain people seem to have remained unchanged in the centuries. From here then we can rise to the Piccolo San Bernardo mountain Pass, where over 150 km ski tracks can satisfy the needs of any skier, and on the Colle Piccolo San Bernardo the Chanousia Botanical Garden is well worth a visit.
Cervinia

Founded in 1897 by abbot Pierre Chanoux, between the Aosta Valley and the French Savoy, this was among the first alpine gardens with local and outside species, each grown in a perfect reproduction of the original environment. The garden is open in the summer months, and can be reached by car through the SS 26 - 1 Km across the Italian border with France. Coming back, an interesting stop can be made at the Colle Piccolo San Bernardo where a cromlech (a circle of stones) witnesses the presence of man here since time immemorial.

Courmayer
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