Kilometers of ski slopes connecting the Val D’Ayas with neighbouring valleys such as Val de Lys and Val Sesia in Piedmont.
Val D'Ayas is in the independently organized Val D'Aosta and it is an area that can be considered ideal for holidays for mountian lovers and all who love being in close contact with nature. The valley was cut out by glaciers and its waters and is framed by the majestic Alps of which Monte Resa is one and its pinewood forests and larch and birch woods are superb pòlaces to walk and trek. The famous sking at Champoluc is part of the amazing scenery and if you take the highway for a short distance, you can reach the attractive village of Saint Vincent and its well known casino for a bit of a flutter and fun.
The second highest mountain in Europe is Monterosa (4636 m.) and its vast ski domain called Monterosaski guarantees fans of skiing and related sports snow all season with kilometers of ski slopes connecting the Val D’Ayas with neighbouring valleys such as Val de Lys and Val Sesia in Piedmont.
During the summer there is no lack of sports activities when winter sports are no longer practiced, rock climbing, hiking and just mountain walks for all levels of expertise. Walking through the leafy woods that are just a riot of color and fragrances, or through the green meadows of the pianoro del Crest, it is possible to reach lakes and alpine pastures, refuges and mountain huts, with picnic areas that are perfect for a quick breather or longer lunch stop. There are cable cars that also guarantee you can reach all the parts of this vast mountain paradise at exactly the time of day you wish to, and you will be amazed at the quality of flora and fauna that can be seen and admired in their natural habitat at the various altitudes they each prefer. From the protected edelweiss and gentian to the chamois and alpine ibex that leap from rock to rock in protected freedom and relative safety as well as foxes, eagles and the charming alpine marmots, a kind of ground squirrel that often communicates alarm with a curious whistling sound.
The history of Val D’Ayas is a rich tapestry of tradition, culture, folklore and legend. After the first human settlements that go back to the Roman times, it became popular in the MIddle Ages due to the routes that were travelled for commercial purposes, connecting the Italian Alps with central Europe. From the 13-15th Century the area was dominated by a single family called Challant, and the typical stone and wood building with their own barn made popular by the Walser culture are called Rascard. The Walsers came from the Swiss Vallais area, settling here from around the 13th Century and some of their typical homes have been converted into charming hotels and trattorie steeped in stories and nestling in the heart of stunning scenery with amazing views . Legend and tradition are closely linked to the populations who travelled through, some , particularly the Walsers, settling there and introducing their habits and cultures.
Aosta Valley coffee is an ancient tradition, unique to this area, with an unmistakable recipe, flavor and presentation. It is served in a “cup of friendship” and drunk together with, of course, friends and relations who all drink directly from this circular, carved wooden container which has little spouts to drink from. In the cold winter days, it is passed from hand to hand around a table and the ancient ritual is meant to strengthen family ties and friendship. The coffee is drunk all in one go, a sip at a time by each member of the group as it is passed round the table clockwise. The cup of friendship should not be laid on the table until the last drop has been enjoyed. If it is put down, it is considered bad luck and the two people it has been placed by may indeed break off their friendship!
The recipe to prepare this Aosta Valley coffee for four people follows:
4 large cups of coffee, 1 glass of Genepy (a local liquor which is aromatic and good for the digestion), 4 glasses grappa, 4 dessertspoons sugar, a piece of lemon rind and one of orange rind.
- Pour the coffee into the cup of friendship
- Sprinkle sugar around the rim.
Having previously heated the white grappa and Genepy in a small saucepan with the 4 heaped dessertspoons of sugar, the lemon and orange rind, once the sugar has melted, add the filtered liquid to the coffee in the cup of friendship.
Then flambé the contents of the cup of friendships allowing the sugar round the rim to caramelize.
Letting the excess caramelized sugar fall into the coffee mixture, put the lid on and enjoy it in the company of good friends.
Terra di confine e strategica per il controllo delle vie di collegamento tra l’Italia e l’Europa, le alture della Valle D’Aosta sono disseminate di numerosi castelli e fortezze di diversi stili e dimensioni, costruiti nel corso dei secoli, ognuno a presidiare il territorio circostante. Questa funzione prettamente difensiva, ben evidente nei castelli di epoca più antica, si è integrata via via con quella abitativa delle famiglie nobiliari. Molti di essi sono ancora oggi visitabili e di grande interesse sia architettonico sia artistico.
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