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Aosta, The Rome of The Alps

Regular readers will know PlanetSKI was based in the historic Italian city in the heart of the Alps last winter. Then coronavirus struck, but not before we had been on an historical tour of the ancient alpine city and fallen in love with the city and its surrounding ski resorts.

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It was not quite the way I had expected to leave Aosta.

In fact I should still be there as I had a lease on a flat/office until the end of April and was likely to extend it into May.

There was ski touring and high altitude glacier skiing in Cervinia to be done with some cycling,  hiking and general chilling after a busy winter.

Spring in the Alps is my favourite time of the year.

But on March 8th Italy went into full lockdown as I left – quickly in case the borders shut.

Leaving the Alps and heading home

Our editor, James Cove, has returned to the UK from the Alps and is in self-isolation.He left his home in Aosta on Sunday 8th March as the whole country went into lockdown.See here for more: https://planetski.eu/2020/03/16/planetski-leaves-the-alps-and-heads-home/

Posted by PlanetSKI.eu on Monday, 16 March 2020

 

I headed to Chamonix for a couple of days, where I didn’t ski, and then I left the Alps altogether.

I had decided, before the authorities shut all the resorts, that they were far too dangerous places to be.

The invisible coronavirus was spreading relentlessly and ski resorts were less then ideal places to be.

Most thought I was over-reacting.

Leaving the Alps and heading home

Our editor, James Cove, has returned to the UK from the Alps and is in self-isolation.He left Chamonix in France on Wednesday 11th March.See here for more: https://planetski.eu/2020/03/16/planetski-leaves-the-alps-and-heads-home/

Posted by PlanetSKI.eu on Monday, 16 March 2020

 

Leaving my winter home in Aosta was a surreal experience and I left behind the alpine city I had grown to love with two months remaining.

Before long a field hospital would be built where I parked my car to take the lift to ski in Pila.

However this was, and is, just another chapter in the town’s rich history.

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

It began many centuries earlier.

Aosta was settled in pre-historic times and became a Roman town in 25BC.

It is an important trade route via the Grand St Bernard Pass into Switzerland and the Petite St Bernard Pass into France.

It is on a route connecting southern Europe with northern Europe.

The Romans defeated the Salassians to establish the city 25 years before Christ was born.

The Arch of Augustus was constructed and it remains to this day.

It is the start of any modern-day tour of Aosta.

It is a single round arch, measuring 8.29 metres in width.

Though it looks rather odd with its current neighbour (there  was a dinosaur exhibition on in the city at the same time).

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Then it is a gentle stroll down the main street and a sharp turn to the right.

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

First up a lime tree.

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

But not just any old lime tree.

It has been sprouting branches since the first half of the 16th century and scientific testing indicates it began to grow sometime between 1530 and 1550.

Then it was in into this building, built in 1470, for some frescos.

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Now, lets be honest, some historical tours can be a bit, er, dull.

With a guide waffling on forever with an avalanche of dates, facts and information that just become a bit of a blur.

Well, not so with Dolores Jurillo.

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

“Look at this, it really is pretty dreadful and a very poor example of this style of painting. You will see some much better ones elsewhere,” Dolores said.

She tells it like it is.

“Horses do not have such eyelashes, it looks more like a cartoon.”

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

“The frescos haven’t even been finished and just look at the hands.”

“There is no movement and the work hasn’t even been signed.”

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

I could only agree, but I did like the colours.

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

She was not over-impressed with the dragon either.

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Dolores was a fabulous guide for my tour.

Entertaining, honest and very knowledgeable.

“Quite beautiful?” she said as she showed us the nearby cloisters that were built in 1132.

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Then it was back to the Roman ruins, though the Praetorian gate is hardly a ruin.

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

It provided one of the main access points into the city.

It is still used today as a meeting point.

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

And then my favourite site.

Roman ruins in Aosta, Italy

Seems an age ago we were there. Just writing a feature article about the wonderful city of Aosta in the Italian Alps where we were living last winter.See the article here: https://planetski.eu/2020/04/30/aosta-the-rome-of-the-alps/

Posted by PlanetSKI.eu on Thursday, 30 April 2020

The structure is 22m tall and dates from the late reign of Augustus.

It occupied an area of 81m by 64m and held to 4,000 spectators.

The remains are simply stunning with the mountain backdrop.

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

No tour of the city is complete with loitering at the Town Hall, or Hotel de Ville,  for a few moments.

The city used to be under French rule and became Italian under the unification of Italy in 1861.

Children still learn both French and Italian at school and all public officials have to be able to speak French.

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

And then there is the main cathedral.

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

The Cathedral was built in the 4th century and replaced in the 11th century

It comes complete with its underground Roman ruins – the cryptoporticus.

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

The city and its surrounding areas are awash with ancient roads, fountains, wash-houses, votive chapels, sundials, historical houses and courtyards in abundance.

I urge you to visit at your earliest convenience and when the current coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta, Aosta Valley, Italy

If you go to any of the surrounding ski resorts then I thoroughly recommend a visit to Aosta.

All things being equal PlanetSKI will be back in Aosta next winter and we have already re-booked our apartment/office.

The skiing’s not too bad either:

PlanetSKI arrives in Aosta for 3-months stay

Avoiding the crowds in the Aosta Valley: Torgnon

Avoiding he crowds in the Aosta Valley: Crevacol

Blue skies and powder after the storm

PlanetSKI snow report

From Aosta to Chamonix

Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta Valley, Italy

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