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Valle d'Aosta - Things to Do - Tourism

Tourism-related activities represent the main source of income for Valle d'Aosta. Apart from the town of Aosta, the largest tourist areas practically coincide with the famous side valleys, here listed in clockwise order for those coming from the Po Valley.

The Lys (or Gressoney) valley conserves a typically alpine appearance: the two main resorts, Gressoney-St-Jean and Gressoney-La-Trinit are equipped for summer tourism (excursions into the Mount Rosa group) and winter (the Monterosaski, ski network with Alagna Valsesia and Champoluc). The Walser language and traditions are conserved in the upper valley and at Issime.

The word Walser comes from the name of the people of German origin who descended here from Valais in the 13th century; the architecture of the stone houses is also characteristic. Again encircling Mount Rosa is the Ayas valley, with its castles (Vernes and Graines) and green meadows; main tourist attractions are Brusson, Champoluc, Antagnod and Saint Jacques.

Proceeding west lies Valtournenche valley with the Matterhorn by many considered the finest mountain in the world. Cervinia lies in the Breuil dip offering the skier 150 km. of piste, (also in summer on the Plateau Rosa glacier, reached by cable car), on territory linked to that of Zermatt. Another resort of note is Valtournenche with the fearsome `des Busserailles' in the vicinity.

The Gran San Bernardo valley is reached directly from Aosta by the road leading to the St. Bernard Pass (hospice, St. Bernard dog breeding kennels), while branching out to the side is still intact Valpelline, with the small villages of Doves, Valpelline, Ollomont and Oyace. At the north-western end of the Val d'Aosta Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Europe, rises above Courmayeur, where the atmosphere of an elegant resort and considerable tourist amenities combine with the panoramas of Val Veny and Val Ferret.

Courmayeur is linked to Chamonix in France by a road tunnel and a cable car travelling to over 3,800 m. The La Thuile Dora flows along the Piccolo San Bernardo valley; the chief resort here is La Thuile (winter sports), and at the Pass there are archeological remains and the Chanousia botanical gardens.

To the right of the Dora Baltea lie Valgrisenche (`drap' craftsmanship), Val di Rhmes, Valsavarenche (excursion to Parco del Gran Paradiso) and the Valle di Cogne (Cascate di Lillazwaterfall, abandoned Colonna mine, lace and wood crafts). Like these valleys, the Vallel di Champorcher too is a good place for a peaceful holiday and nature walks in a setting that is still almost unspoilt.

Special mention must be made of Saint Vincent at the bottom of the valley, the site of a famous casino and popular thermal springs. One of the most attractive features for tourists in the Val d'Aosta are its castles scattered all over the region. Many are well preserved and are open to visitors and some house great works of art.

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