Valle D’Aosta, the smallest region in Italy, is also one of the most breathtaking, featuring majestic snow-covered mountains, lush forest areas, and river basins. To the north and west, Valle D’Aosta shares a chain of the Alps with Switzerland and France, giving rise to its year-round abundance of exciting winter activities. The region itself is situated among three of the highest mountain points in Europe: the Matterhorn (Monte Cervino), the Monterosa, and the great Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco), the mountain which is sometimes referred to by the French as the “White Lady” for its tremendous size.
From your cozy alpine hotel haven, you will have access to the best slopes nestled between the most impressive mountain ranges of the region. Our ski expert and tour manager will accompany you on and off the slopes as you spend your mornings on the fresh powder, break for lunch on the trails, visit some of the top wineries in the afternoons as well as delicious dinners featuring the best local regional products the area has to offer.
As you will note on your excursion, Valle D’Aosta’s proximity to Switzerland, France, and the Italian region of Piemonte has permitted it to exchange and borrow traditions across the mountain paths. Having been inhabited by various peoples, Valle D’Aosta offers a rich historical character, stemming from the influence of the Celts, who were the first to settle the area in the 9th century B.C., and continuing until the reign of the Romans, who gave the region its namesake. Today one can observe the strong ties between the French-speaking communities of Switzerland, the Italian region of Piemonte, and the towns that lie right over the French Alps.
You will have the opportunity to explore in detail the history and culture as you proceed to Fènis boasting its Castello di Fènis, one of the most famous medieval castles in the region. You will also make your way to Aoste, the capital city and a former Roman town whose history lingers in the walls of the buildings, artifacts, and in their particular style of architecture. All the while you will get a sense of the grandeur of the ancient civilization that worked to make this region thrive.
A special treat will be your visit to a Fontina producer in Valpelline, where you will receive an overview of the production process and taste scrumptious cheese varieties. Fontina is the most popular cheese in the region and is used in some of the most common dishes, appearing namely in the region’s creamy fondua, or fondue. In addition to the Fontina, you will warm up with regional specialties such as the costoletta alla valdostana, or veal cutlets that are floured, fried, and then topped with various ingredients that range from Fontina to prosciutto and, when in season, truffles. Another classic is the polenta alla rascard, which is cooked and served in delicious slices that highlight its many layers of cheese, beef, and sausage.
Because of its mountainous location, the people of Valle D’Aosta frequently prepare hearty soups and stews, such as the capriolo alla valdostana, a stew made from venison meat, vegetables, wine, and grappa liquor. Another soup which is widely prepared is zuppa di valpelline, made from cabbage, fresh bread, and Fontina cheese. These dishes and others like them represent the pinnacle of valdostana cuisine, which you will enjoy at some of the best local restaurants.
Meals will be accompanied by wines from the top producers of the region, and you will learn about the history of the estate, the cultivation of their grapes, and their particular vinification processes. The wineries that you will visit might include Cantina di Barrò, Cave Cooperatives de Donnas, the Istitut Agricole Régional, Maison Anselmet, Les Cretes, and Maison Vigneronne Grosjean, to name a few. As catalogued by the Istitut Agricole Régional, Valle D’Aosta takes claim to 13 native grape varietals, spread out through the region as blends and inclusive of “indigenous” types such as the Petit Rouge (Little Red) and the Fumin, which is similar to the Syrah grape.
Other varietals that are sure to impress your palate include the Picotendro, a local version of Nebbiolo that resembles Barolo; the Moscato Bianco, and the Pinot Grigio. Two local white wines, the Blanc de Morgex and the Valle D’Aosta Müller-Thurgau, have refreshing citrus-flavored tastes with hints of lemon, apple, and kiwi, and are best paired with white seafood or oysters.
For an enjoyable winter excursion that incorporates the best of skiing and exquisite food and wine, look no further than the Valle D’Aosta. Summer programs are also available for those who wish to take an adventurous hiking or biking tour through the region.
Contact Shop Wine and Dine for more details!
Banner photo credit: Italian Government Tourist Board North America
Special Features & Services:
*This tour may be combined with another tour to other Italian regions. Please contact Shop Wine and Dine for additional details
Pre- and post-tour extensions are available upon request.