Valle d'Aosta (Aosta) - Northern Regions

"Valle d'Aosta (Aosta) - Northern Regions" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Thursday 28th April 2011

The name Valle d'Aosta speaks for itself: Valle means valley, i.e. the form of the territory occupied by the region; Aosta is a city founded by Romans in 25 b.C. and dedicated with the name Augusta Praetoria to the emperor Augustus. Surface 3 263 (1260 sq.miles) (1%), population 119 000 inhabitants (0,3%), density 36 inhab./

Between 35 000 and 11 000 years ago, when other regions of Italy were already populated, the space of Valle d'Aosta was empty. In those times the greatest part of its territory was occupied by ice, and only in 9th millenium b.C., in the moment when between its mountains was stabilized moderate climate, the ice melted and flora and fauna appeared, which gave the possibility to create human settlements. One of the first inhabitants of Valle d'Aosta were Celts (IX-VIII centuries b.C.); this phenomenon left profound signs still recognized in the names of the localities and language. After Celts the Romans came, who intended to assume the control over these lands because of their strategic position. Romans improved the local organization, built the systems of communications and founded that noted above center Augusta Praetoria (future Aosta).
Valle d'Aosta (Aosta) at northern side
During the Middle Ages came to the end continuous invasions of Ostrogoths, Byzantines, Longobards and Franks and the anarchy, and began the feudalism, which traces could still be observed in numerous castles.

One of the most particular characteristics of this part of Italy is the presence of a strong spirit of independence and autonomy belonging to the inhabitants, one of the expressions of this fact is bilingualism: Italian-French.

Till the middle of 19th century the plain territory of Valle d'Aosta was used mostly for agriculture, but the mountain parts of the region, poor of fertile lands, had to be used by other activities more adapted to the environment, such as is breeding of cattle and sheep. Starting from the second half of the past century and most of all in last decades, Valle d'Aosta, especially its plain part, is a theatre of profound rearrangement, based on creation of various industries, first of all, iron metallurgy, using the availability of hydroelectricity (thanks to Alps' water) and big enough quantity of minerals (loadstone). The careful planning of the industrial constructions saved the harmony of landscape. While in the mountain regions the only new economic activity possible is tourism (winter sports, summer camping).


Man and Territory

Economy and Resources

Archeology and Art


From X century b.C. the Valley is occupied by the Celtic-Ligurian peoples

Roman Epoch
(from II century b.C.)

New organization of life brought by Romans
Assigning of lands, construction of roads, bridges, aqueducts; foundation of Augusta Praetoria in 25 b.C., the city fundamental for the transalpine communications

Middle Ages
(V - XV centuries)

Domination of Franks. In 1031 Umberto Biancamano received from the emperor of Germany the title of count of Aosta: thus, the rein of Savoia began. In 1191, Tomaso di Savoia gave to Valle d'Aosta the administrative autonomy from the central government.
Starting from XI century the human settlements are being spread all over the territory; construction of fortified castles by local feudalists.
Castles of Challant, Fenis, Verres

(XV - XVI centuries)

In 1539 France extends its power on the whole of the region, but in 1563 Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia managed to reconstruct the county.
Increasing of agricultural activity and bringing out the value of the territory; construction of castles continues

Modern Ages (XVII=XVIII)

From 1792 the region is governed directly from Savoia, loosing its administrative autonomy.
Intensification of the exploitation of the ice minerals. In the end of XVIII century raised the first metallurgical and textile manufactures.

XIX - XX centuries

Being annexed together with Piedmont to France during the Napoleonic period, after Restoration returns to be governed by Savoia to which remained faithful even after proclamation of the government of united Italy. In 1948 Valle d'Aosta obtained the status of autonomous region.
Unveiled the first railways; grew some industries thanks to hydroelectricity. In the end of XIX century the English discovered the touristic resources of the Valle. In 1922 the ex park for hunting which belonged to the house of Savoy was opened to public (Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso).
The art and architecture greatly influence by the culture of Piedmont. The opening of Valle d'Aosta to English tourists brought as a consequence increases in value of the local art. Restoration of monuments and works of art.

Valle d'Aosta (Aosta) Map and its position


Valle d'Aosta is the smallest region of Italy, it is located on the extreme north-west of the country bordering on France (west), Switzerland (north), Piedmont (south and east).


The natural landscape of Valle d'Aosta is nearly entirely composed of alpine relief (Graian Alps and Pennine Alps) dominated by the peaks and glaciers of Monte Bianco, Gran Paradiso, Monte Rosa, Cervino and Gran Combin, so Valle d'Aosta could be considered as the vastest in Europe complex of mountains and valleys.

There are numerous passageways: Piccolo San Bernandino, the hill of the Seigne, Gran Bernardino; two tunnels: of Monte Bianco (leading to France) and of Gran San Bernardo(leading to Switzerland).
The minor valleys, serving the tourism now, are: val di Cogne, Valsavarenche, val de la Thuile, valle di Gressoney, Valtournenche, val Ferret.
The region has only one real river: Dora Baltea, which goes from Monte Bianco; but there are a lot of mountain and artificial lakes.

plain: 0%

hill: 0%

mountain: 100%


January: 1,3 C

July: 16,8 C


The climate in Valle d'Aosta is continental of the alpine type, with very long and cold winters and short summers.


Valle d'Aosta is very well supplied with the road web reaching all the frontiers of the region, as well as developed the railway system, but serving mostly for the internal transportation.

Total: 7 000 000

Italians: 92% Foreigners:8%


Agriculture: 8%

Industry: 23%

Tourism: 69%

Agriculture and breeding.

Apart from the products of no particular interest (rye, maize, potato, apple, grape), should be noticed two natural resources of a greater importance: wood, exported in big quantities in other regions, and breeding, especially of cattle, which mean production of milk, butter, cheeses (fontina, tome, etc.) and quality meet.


The most important industries of Valle d'Aosta are those producing hydroelectrical energy (mostly exported to Piedmont). But at the same time reduced the number of working places in the chemical industry (as a sequence of closing of the artificial fiber factory in Chatillon) and metallurgic industry (as a sequence of the decision took by the European Community to reduce the production of steel in the countries of the common market). But thanks to the development of tourism Valle d'Aosta has the lowest level of unemployment in Italy.


44 000 000 kWh

Valle d'Aosta:

2 735 000 kWh

Births (per 1000)

Italy: 9.9

Valle d'Aosta:7.9

Deaths (per 1000)

Italy: 9.3

Valle d'Aosta: 10.5


Italy: 0.6

Valle d'Aosta: -2.5


Being closed between the mountains, Valle d'Aosta conducted for centuries quite isolated life, so that Italian and European political events didn't influence this region much. For nearly all of its history Valle was autonomous, and on February 26, 1948 became one of five autonomous Italian regions of a special status. Inhabitants of Valle d'Aosta speak particular dialect denominated patois, and the French language is used as much as Italian.


Among the inhabitants of 20 Italian regions, those who live in Valle d'Aosta appear to be the most fortunate. It is one of the first regions from economic, welfare, civic and social-cultural points of view. It takes the second place after Lombardy in product per inhabitant. Its environmental conditions are better thanks to Alpine climate and attention of the local administrators to ecological aspects and little quantity of polluting industries.
Here also people spend more for things and services destined to satisfy their needs of entertainment, sport and recreation. Thanks to noted above special status of the region, all the financial resources are managed by the local administration without intervention of the state. And it is obvious that it is managed well, as the quality of the public service is much better in comparison with the rest of Italy.
Inhabitants per car

Italy 2.0

Valle d'Aosta: 1.2

Monthly income

per inhabitant

1 552 000 It.Liras (776 US Dollars)

Provinces and Communes.

The region Valle d'Aosta is compound of only one province Aosta, and it is divided in 74 communes. The other major centers are Courmayeur, Gressoney, Cervinia and Saint-Vincent known as the places of winter and summer vacations; Cogne, Chatillon and Verres are the seats of mining and industrial activities.
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