Gressoney-Saint-Jean, a renowned holiday destination lying at 1385 metres, is situated in a beautiful setting with a view over the Lyskamm glacier and the impressive Monte Rosa massif. The history of Gressoney is closely linked to the Walser, a population of Germanic origin that colonised this territory more than eight centuries ago and arrived in the area through the Teodulo pass. The cultural heritage, promoted by the Walser Cultural Centre and the folk group, is still reflected in the typical architecture with the stadel, in the spoken language, the Titsch, and in the precious Walser costume, also worn by Queen Margherita of Savoy, who spent her summer holidays in Gressoney. The first queen of Italy, who really loved these mountains, gave a considerable boost to the development of the resort, which became a destination for many tourists.
WHAT TO SEE
● The Savoy Castle: built by the Queen Margherita of Savoy as a summer residence overlooking the mountains, it is also interesting for the botanical garden.
● Saint John the Baptist Parish Church: dating back to 1725, it houses a rich church treasure and a recently restored crucifix from the 14th century, one of the oldest masterpieces of the region.
● The walser village of Alpenzu: located on a panoramic natural terrace, the village of Alpenzu houses the peculiarities of Walser architecture, including the stadel, rural buildings leaning on mushroom-shaped columns. The walser villages of Noversch and Ecko are not to be missed, too.
● The regional museum of the alpine fauna “Beck-Peccoz” (temporarily closed): the museum displays a rich collection of hunting trophies, antique weapons, precious family heirlooms and publications about the Alpine fauna and flora.
NATURE AND SPORT
In winter, Gressoney offers its guests a cross-country skiing piste, with a 25-km long track through forests and magnificent views over the glaciers, and a small alpine skiing resort, with over 11 kilometres and the possibility of skiing, even at night, on the legendary ‘Leonardo David’ black slope.
In summer, the village is a privileged starting point for excursions of all levels of difficulty, e.g. the hikes in the Valle dei principi, in the Loo valley and to the Col Ranzola, alpine ascents and traverses to the neighbouring valleys of Ayas and Valsesia. The 12-hole golf-course, located where the valley opens itself to the breath of the magnificent panorama on the Monte Rosa glacier, is a must-see.
EVENTS AND TRADITIONS
● Patronal feast of Saint John the Baptist: after the celebration of the Holy Mass, during the procession with the statue of the Saint, it is possible to admire the wonderful Walser traditional costumes worn by women, long red dresses with black aprons decorated in gold, embellished with a precious bonnet, made of gold filigree.
● Bierfest: the festival, which takes place every year in June in the same period as the celebrations of the patron saint, is dedicated to the famous ‘Kühbacher Bier’, produced in the brewery of the Baron Beck-Peccoz, born in Gressoney but emigrated many years ago in Kühbach, Germany.
● Gressoney Music Summer: every year the association ‘Amici della Musica di Gressoney’ presents a programme of prestigious classical music concerts with internationally renowned artists.
● Toma cheese festival: the Gressoney Toma is the protagonist of this event dedicated to local flavours and products. Appreciated table cheese, it is produced on the mountain pastures of the Lys valley using traditional methods.
FOR THE LITTLE ONES
Gressoney-Saint-Jean is an ideal destination for families and young guests. In summer, children can meet around the emerald green waters of the Gover Lake, where they will find a playground, entertainment activities, a small fishing area and a riding centre. With the stroller, parents with their kids can follow the Queen’s Walk to reach the Savoy Castle park, or walk along the simple Lys promenade that runs along the river.
In winter, the waters of the lake turn into a beautiful ice rink and fun is guaranteed at the baby snowpark Weissmatten, for fun rides on bobsleigh or on skis.
● Altitude: 1385 m
● Inhabitants: 800
● How to get there by public transport: Gressoney-Saint-Jean is reachable by bus in about 50 minutes with the line “Pont-Saint-Martin – Gressoney”. For timetables and further information, please visit the website of the VITA Group company.