Art and culture
The traces left by history over the centuries in these valleys are evident in the numerous castles and above all chapels and churches, which throughout the valleys bear witness to the religious faith and traditions of the local inhabitants.
The most interesting are perhaps the Parish Church of Antagnod, which features an unusual bulb-shaped bell tower and a fine Baroque altar, and the Parish Church of Issime, built in the 16th century and especially worth a visit to admire the fresco depicting the Day of Judgement that adorns the façade and the seventeenth-century main altar.
Civil architecture, on the other hand, gave the Ayas Valley two fine castles belonging to the Challant family, the ruins of which can be seen in Villa and Graines, while Gressoney-Saint-Jean was historically a favourite with the Italian royals, the Savoia family and above all Margherita, the first Queen of Italy, who spent many a summer here at Castel Savoia.
Another sign of the monarch's presence here is Villa Margherita, built by Baron Beck Peccoz and now used as the Town Hall.
The craftsmen of the Ayas Valley are famous for their wooden clogs, or sabots. The master sabotiers have formed a cooperative, "Li Tsacolé d'Ayas", and their products are displayed at the premises in Antagnod; while in the Gressoney Valley the local speciality are the traditional “D'Socka” and “pioun”, warm woollen slippers that are particular useful during the harsh winters here. If you wish never to suffer from cold feet again, you can take home a pair from the "D'Socka" cooperative in Gressoney-Saint-Jean