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Valle d'Aosta - Places to visit - Aosta

Aosta (Italian: Aosta, French: Aoste) is the principal city of the bilingual Aosta Valley in the Italian Alps, 110km north-northwest of Turin.

It is situated near the Italian entrance of the Mont Blanc Tunnel, at the confluence of the Buthier and the Dora Baltea, and at the junction of the Great and Little St. Bernard routes.

Aosta is not the capital of the province, as these functions are shared by the region and the communes.

Aosta in Valle d'Aosta

History - Aosta was settled in proto-historic times and later became a Celtic-Ligurian city of the Salassi. Terentius Varro captured it in 25 BC and founded the Roman colony of Augusta Praetoria. After 11 BC Aosta became the capital of the Alpes Graies ("Grey Alps") province of the Empire.

After the fall of the Western Empire, the city was conquered by the Burgundians, the Ostrogoths, the Byzantines. The Lombards, who had annexed it to their Italian kingdom, were expelled by the Franks of Pepin the Younger.

Under Charlemagne Aosta acquired importance as a post on the Via Francigena, leading from Aachen to Italy. After 888 it was part of the renewed Kingdom of Italy under Arduin of Ivrea and Berengar of Friuli.

In the 10th century Aosta became part of the Kingdom of Burgundy. After the fall of the latter in 1032, it entered the lands of Umberto I Biancamano of the House of Savoy . After the creation of the county of Savoy, with its capital in Chambry, Aosta followed its history, as well as the later Kingdom of Sardinia and unified Italy.

Under the House of Savoy Aosta was granted a special status that it maintained when the new Italian Republic was proclaimed in 1948.

Aosta in Valle d'Aosta

The main monuments of the city include: The Arch of Augustus, erected in 35 BC to celebrate the victory of the Roman troops led by consul Varro Murene over the local Salassi.

The Porta Praetoria (1st century AD), once the eastern gate to the city, which has preserved its original forms apart from the marble covering. The Roman theatre, of which the southern faade remains today, 22m tall.

The structure could contain up to 4,000 spectators. The Cathedral of Aosta, built in the 4th century and replaced in the 11th century by a new edifice dedicate to the Madonna. It is annexed to the Roman Forum. The Romanesque-Gothic Collgiale Saint-Ours.

Its most evocative feature is the ancient cloister, which can be entered through a hall on the left of the faade. The Saint-Bnin College, built about 1000 by the Benedictines. It is now an exhibition site.

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