PLANETSKI ARRIVES IN AOSTA FOR 3-MONTH STAY
9th February 2020 | James Cove, the Aosta Valley, Italy
Last modified on February 12th, 2020
We’re now based in the self-proclaimed ‘Heart of the Alps’. There’s some skiing to be had here in Italy, and in neighbouring France & Switzerland. Plus much else besides.
The Aosta Valley sits on the southern side of Mont Blanc, make that Monte Bianco, and is a long and steep meandering valley.
It starts at 345m in Pont Saint Martin and rises to 1,381m at the foot of Monte Bianco.
It is the smallest of Italy’s regions and has political self-government – it reeks independence, autonomy and a strong local mountain identity.
Alpine traditions run deep here.
My sort of place.
As I emerged on the Italian side of the tunnel it was a moment to park the car and take in the views.
My home for the next few months.
The Aosta Valley has 19 ski resorts, some fabulous high mountain scenery and is rich in Roman and alpine history.
Now I have a confession to make.
I was actually supposed to arrive last week but got a little delayed on the way through the Chamonix Valley.
Testing skis and watching World Cup ski racing, as you do.
But now we are here in Aosta to take up residency and have our first ski in its connected resort of Pila, and guess what?
And in case you are wondering that is Monte Bianco behind me in the snow report.
The views from Pila go round to Cervino, as I shall now have to call the Matterhorn.
So, first up, what about the skiing in this neck of the mountains?
At the end of the Aosta Valley is La Thuile and Courmayeur with La Thuile linked to the French resort of La Rosiere.
The city of Aosta itself is linked to Pila via an 18-minute gondola ride from its base near the main railway station.
At the top today it was rather special.
The two smaller resorts of Ollomont and Saint Rhemy-en-Bosses Crevacol are also part of the Aosta Grand Cobin area.
Beyond Pila are Cogne, Valgrisenche and Rhemes Notre Dame in the Grand Paradiso area.
Then there is Cervinia (linked to Zermatt) and its neighbouring resorts of Valtournenche, Chamois, La Magdeleine and Torgon.
The final ski area is around Monte Rosa with its resorts of Champoluc, Gressoney La Trinite, Gressoney Saint Jean, Ayas Antagnod, Brusson and Champorcher.
Gressoney is linked in to Alagna so all in all I make that 22 resorts to explore.
That should be a fun few months or so.
I have visited about half the resorts before but, except for Cervinia, only for a day or two.
This is new territory to me and I’m bursting with excitement to see all the skis areas and report on them across PlanetSKI.
But basing PlanetSKI in this part of the Alps is about much more than the skiing.
Much, much more.
I am looking forward to getting under the skin of the area and embracing all it has to offer – the culture, the history, the art, the traditions, the food, the wine, the natural environment, the sports and simply living in Italy.
There is the Sky Way, natural thermal springs, tours of vineyards and a massive gambling casino in St Vincent frequented by certain families from Sicily.
I am told there is no-where in the Alps quite like the Aosta Valley and above all else it is a genuine mountain environment.
It is the real deal.
And that is why PlanetSKI is here for 3-months.
I am bursting with excitement.