VALLE D’AOSTA | GRAN PARADISO NATIONAL PARK
Discover Valle d’Aosta, the smallest region in Italy, and find out why the first Italian national park is named “Paradise”. Easy walking and moderate hiking escapades, fascinating history, imposing castles, extraordinay culture, wine tasting, gastronomy. Deep-rooted traditions and skilled artisans.
This exclusive hiking tour in Italy’s Valle d’Aosta (Aosta Valley) takes you on a discovery of the smallest of the Italian regions and an extraordinary area, rich in history, culture and traditions. Tucked away in the northwestern corner of Italy, and at the border with France and Switzerland, Valle d’Aosta was a strategic location during the Roman conquest of Gaul (today’s France), in the first century B.C. In fact, many exceptional and unique Roman monuments can still be admired in the area.
The region is almost entirely mountainous, and can proudly boast to be the home to four of the highest peaks in Italy and in Western Europe: Mont Blanc (4810 mt/15780 ft), Monte Rosa (4634 mt/15203 ft), Matterhorn (4478 mt/14691 ft) and Gran Paradiso (4061 mt/13324 ft). Needless to say, the views of these iconic giants, as well as of the Italian and Swiss Alps, are simply magnificent. Remote valleys hide unique cultures, fascinating traditions, and splendid scenery. One of the autonomous regions of Italy, Valle d’Aosta is where a 1948 statute established parity between the Italian and the French languages. We will explore Gran Paradiso, not only the name of the highest peak entirely in Italian territory, but also the first Italian National Park, whose history is indissolubly linked to the protection of the ibex population. Walking and hiking along comfortable trails and paths, we will be immersed in splendid natural settings dotted by exquisite hamlets and villages displaying characteristic architecture. We will discover why the park was rightfully called “Great Paradise”.
We will admire the extraordinary craftsmanship of the innumerable local artisan and sculptors; we will learn about the extremely rich history, the unique local customs and traditions; we will enjoy the typical gastronomy of the region, savor the local cheese and have the opportunity to taste some of the extraordinary wine produced in the area.
This itinerary is the perfect combination with our [Piemonte | Land of Contrasts] tour.
DAY BY DAY
Day 1 Arrival
Transfer by private vehicle from Milano Malpensa International Airport to a beautiful medieval village, located at the entrance of Valle d’Aosta. The activities of the day are set up to give you a first taste of the rich history of the region. We will walk on part of the original Roman Consular Road to Gaul, and set out at the discovery of deep-rooted traditions such as the colture of vineyards and the extraordinary craftsmanship and sculptures of local artisans.
Day 2 Val d’Ayas
Our hiking foray today introduces us to Val d’Ayas, one of the most beautiful and pristine valleys in the Valle d’Aosta region. Covered by thick conifer forests and alpine grazing pastures, and dotted by enchanting villages, it is a serene environment framed by the splendid panorama of Monte Rosa, the second highest mountain in WesternEurope, after Mont Blanc. We will discover the ancient culture and tradition of the Walser people, as well as their unique architecture.
Day 3 Medieval Castles – Gran Paradiso National Park
Exclusive private guided tour of Verrès, one of the many outstanding medieval castles in the valley and, along with Issogne, one of the most important. It is also the most extraordinary example of monobloc fortress. The imposing staircase, the decorations of the windows, of the doors and of the monumental fireplaces are a powerful revelation of the workmanship that operated in the castle. We then transfer to Gran Paradiso, the only 4000-meter peak completely in Italian territory and the first Italian National Park, founded in 1922. A short afternoon hike will take us to a perfect vantage point, where we admire the humbling glaciated amphitheatre of the massif.
Day 4 Gran Paradiso National Park
Hiking on a beautifula and panoramic uphill trail, we enter an extraordinary natural environment and reach one of the many mountain huts in the park. Along the way, we enjoy views of the surrounding mountaind. We may even be so lucky to spot and perhaps even come close to the famous ibexes. In Cogne, we visit a cooperative that groups several lace artists, and admire an amazing, heartfelt local tradition.
Day 5 Gran Paradiso National Park – Aosta
Today we explore another spectacular valley of the park, one of the more remote and less frequented, and a splendid glacial valley surrounded by a typical alpine environment. Our goal is to reach one of the mountain huts at the foot of the glaciers. And to do this, we don’t need to be climbers! In fact, we just follow a well-maintained path/trail. We may have sightings of marmots, chamois and ibexes. And, if we are lucky we may also see a bearded volture. If time allows, we have the option to do some wine tasting on our way to Aosta.
Day 6 Valley of the Great Saint Bernard – Aosta
We explore the valley of the Great Saint Bernard, the pass connecting Italy to Switzerland. Yes the one of the big dogs with the flask! Already a very important thoroughfare during the Roman times, the valley reached its apex as an important commercial route during medieval times. Hiking on mule paths and trails, we enter a spectacular wilderness, across summer pastures, surrounded all along by the superb panorama of the Alps. We visit an old copper mine where Fontina cheese is placed to age before it is sold.
Day 7 Aosta – Bard
We start with a private guided tour of Aosta. Built by the Romans in 25 B.C, it is known as “The Rome of the Alps” due its wealth of representative architecture and monuments of imperial Rome. In January, it hosts the famous fair of Sant’Orso, where more than a thousand regional artisans exhibit their exceptional work. Bard is the most enthralling medieval hamlet in Valle d’Aosta, squeezed between the sheer cliffs in the narrowest part of the region. Above it looms the imposing fortress, the most impressive defensive structure still in existence.
Day 8 Departure
After breakfast, there is a group transfer to Milano Malpensa International Airport.
From Euros 2490 per person
Euros 350 | Single supplement
Prices are quoted in Euros and based on double occupancy.
What Is Included:
Airport transfers at beginning and end of the trip.
English-speaking local guide for the duration of the trip.
Guide’s expenses (hotels and meals) while with the group.
Licensed guide for tours of Aosta and Castle of Verrès.
Five nights in four-star hotels, two nights in three-star hotel.
All breakfasts, five lunches, seven dinners.
Water and coffee/tea with your group meals at hotels/restaurants.
Wine tasting on Day 1.
Private and public transportation, as per itinerary.
Visits to museums/points of interest and activities as specified in the itinerary.
Gratuities to porters, drivers, and at restaurants.
What Is Not Included:
Insurance of any kind (cancellation and medical/evacuation insurance, etc.).
Expenses due to unexpected changes to the itinerary.
Activities not specified in the itinerary.
Wine tastings other than what specified in the itinerary.
Personal expenses (laundry, sodas or alcoholic beverages, telephone calls, etc.).
Anything else not mentioned in “What’s Included in the Price of the Trip”.
Unused transportation during the tour will not be reimbursed.
TRIP DATES & DETAILS
2016 Dates: contact us »
Season: mid-June – end-September
Trip Length: 8 days
Trip Activity [more details]:
History | Culture
Scenery | Flora | Fauna
Gastronomy | Wine
Traditions | Art | Artisans
Trip Rating [more details]: moderate
The Guide(s) [more details]:
The guide(s) will be confirmed about thirty days prior to the beginning of the trip.
ACCOMODATIONS & MEALS
Our accommodations are in exquisite high-quality, three- and four-star, family-run, boutique hotels.
Day 1, 2 – Typical chalet-style hotel, in a quiet area in the heart of the charming small town of Champoluc. The hotel is family-run, with grat care, maintaining the characteristics of a mountain hotel, with wood as the main element in the architectural details.
Day 3, 4 – The only Relais du Silence in the western Italian Alps. Located at the edge of the village of Cogne, it is strategically placed near the hiking trails. Each room is designed in an true alpine style, with a wonderful view of the Prato di Sant’Orso (an open prairie) and the mountains.
Day 5, 6 – On the hills outside of Aosta, the hotel is managed by five women, and it is the result of an exquisite renovation of their family’s farmhouse. Wooden details reflect the architecture as well as the traditions of Valle d’Aosta. Spectacular view of the town of Aosta and the surrounding mountains. Outdoor swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna, massages.
Day 7 – A boutique hotel, created through the clever renovation of two private buildings at the entrance of the Medieval hamlet of Bard. Its beautiful interior still reflects the orginal architectural details and it provides an intimate and friendly atmosphere. Wellness centre with jacuzzi, massages, sauna.
Participants booked on the trip will receive a complete list and detailed descripion of the hotels.
Breakfasts – They consist of a generous spread of meats, cheeses, fruit, yogurt, juice, cereal, fresh bread, and other baked goods, accompanied by coffee or tea.
Lunches – We mostly enjoy elaborate picnics with local meats, cheeses, chutneys, olives or dried tomatoes, at least one vegetable, fruit, and freshly baked bread. When not a picnic, we have a light lunch at a simple, traditional, family-run restaurant. Generally, this entails a set menu, with a pasta dish, a salad, and a dessert, or an appetizer a main course and a dessert.
Dinners – We may dine at the hotels or at a nearby traditional restaurant. All meals will consist of outstanding three- or four-course meals reflecting both the traditional Valle d’Aosta cuisine and other regional Italian fare. Generally à-la-carte.
The majority of the hotels and restaurants on this tour are recognized by Saveurs du Val d’Aoste, a mark that identifies restaurants, hotels and shops that work in total respect of the regional traditions when it comes to products, architectural and environmental context. It is a guarantee of origin and quality.