Valpelline is a small tourist resort at an altitude of 960 metres, situated in a green valley among vast pastures and orchards. The municipality lies along the Buthier river and is home to wild landscapes, high peaks and imposing glaciers, where people can live the mountain in its purity, far from mass tourism. Agriculture and handicraft played an important role in the economy of the village, as well as mining industry: from 1700 to 1912 the district was known in the whole region for its copper mine. Today Valpelline is known above all for the production of Fontina PDO cheese cheese and its seasoning rooms dug out of the rock, one of which in the ancient copper mine.
WHAT TO SEE
● The Fontina museum and the visitor centre: the centre was built to illustrate the history and peculiarities of Fontina cheese, the most famous PDO product in the whole Aosta Valley, through educational panels and objects related to its production.
● The Parish Church of Saint Pantaleon: built in 1722, it is marked by a large sloping roof.
● The fortified house 'La Tour': situated north of the church, it was built in the 10th century. It was the birthplace of Rodolfo di Valpelline, who later became bishop of Sion, as well as the seat of the court, the stables and the Lord’s granary.
NATURE AND SPORT
In summer, Valpelline offers several hiking routes suitable for everyone: it is an ideal base for simple walks in the valley and ascents to the highest peaks, including the Becca di Viou, a scenic viewpoint of Mont Blanc and Grand Combin. Fishermen can descend along the course of the Buthier river, where a 3-km fishing area has been established.
During the winter season, cross-country skiers can use the beautiful trails in the neighbouring villages, or discover some ski mountaineering routes: the wild nature and the wide spaces guarantee breathtaking views of the surrounding summits.
EVENTS AND TRADITIONS
● The 'Seupa à la Vapelenentse' festival: at the end of July, Valpelline organises a festival dedicated to this delicious dish of peasant origin, typical of the local cuisine, prepared with stale white bread, cabbage broth and Fontina cheese.
● Valpelline fair: born as a cattle fair, the oldest in Aosta Valley, it is today a showcase of traditional local products.
● Coumba Freida historic carnival: according to tradition, this carnival was established in commemoration of the march through the Great Saint Bernard Pass by Napoleon and his troops in May 1800, during his campaign in Italy. The landzette, with their colourful costumes, an allegorical transposition of the uniforms worn by the French soldiers, take possession of the village and invoke the arrival of spring.
For many years Joseph Henry, a pastor, naturalist and mountaineer, has been the priest of Valpelline and a point of reference for people who ventured into the mountains of the area, since he climbed unscaled peaks on the valley. Passionate about botany, he helped Abbot Chanoux to set up the Chanousia botanical garden, the oldest one in the region.
● Altitude: 960 m
● Inhabitants: 600
● How to get there by public transport: Valpelline is reachable by bus with the line 'Aosta – Bionaz'. Timetables are available on the website of the SVAP company.