Aosta is to be found at the centre of the Valley of Aosta, 580 a.s.l. Capital of the autonomous Valle d’Aosta Region, it was founded by the Romans in 25 B.C. and is located in the point where the physiographic catchment of the Dora Baltea reaches its maximum width and where the main roads heading to France and Switzerland converge.
In fact, the presence of the Little and Great Saint Bernard alpine passes has meant that Aosta has always been an extremely important strategic junction, including from a transport point of view (nowadays thanks also to the Mont Blanc and Gran San Bernardo Tunnels).
It is surrounded by magnificent mountains, including the Grand Combin and the Mont Vélan to the north, Emilius and the Becca di Nona to the south and the Testa del Rutor to the west.
Rich in monuments from prehistorical, Roman, medieval and later times, Aosta is also of interest thanks to some less well known aspects of the so called “lesser” art, such as ancient roads, fountains, wash-houses, votive chapels, sundials, historical houses and courtyards.
Some of the more memorable monuments include the megalithic area of Saint-Martin de Corleans, due to be opened to the public in the near future. It offers a wealth of remains from Roman times, such as the Praetoria Gate, one of the few examples from Roman times still perfectly intact, the Theatre, the forum Cryptoporticus, the perimeter of the boundary walls almost completely intact, a well preserved extra muros villa and the magnificent Augustus’ Arch. It is also home to two masterpieces of Medieval art, the Cathedral and San’Orso, real treasure chests of masterpieces such as the Ottanian frescoes in the garret, floor mosaics, the wooden choir, the treasure museum for the Cathedral and the frescoes, wooden choir and enchanting cloisters in the Sant’Orso Collegiate.
One event held in Aosta that is definitely worth mentioning is the thousand year old Sant’Orsa Fair held each year in the centre of Aosta on the 30 and 31 January: its origins have been lost over time, so much so that someone set the year 1000 as its starting date, so each edition is now numbered as though the first Sant’Orso Fair had been held at the start of the second millennium of our time.
It is a craft fair with artefacts in wood, soapstone, wrought iron, lace and woollen fabrics as well as everyday items, farming equipment, furniture, household utensils and real sculptures.