In 2014, the region of Aosta Valley gave itself a new administrative structure, transforming the two old mountain communities into 8 Unions of Valdôtain Municipalities (in French, Unités des Communes Valdôtaines).
Outside the capital Aosta, all the municipalities of the region are part of them, coordinating together to provide basic services to the citizens of Aosta Valley: from the maintenance of school buildings, to the collection of waste, pass through the services of tourist promotion.
But the Unités des Communes Valdôtaines are also territories rich in culture and marvellous natural landscapes. Environment, traditions and typical customs, each of these has something special. Let's find out together.
Union of Évançon
Inhabited since ancient times, the territory of this union is developed around the river Évançon, tributary of the Dora Baltea, which forms the beautiful Ayas Valley. The valley is rich in archaeological evidences of ancient Salassi people. Afterwards, it was the fief of the powerful Counts of Challant who built several spectacular castles here, and many of them can still be visited, like Verrès Castle and Issogne Castle.
Here you will also find Mont Avic Natural Park, with the largest forest of mountain pines in the region.
Union of the Gran Paradiso
With its 4,061 metres, the Gran Paradiso dominates the territory of this union and the valleys that make it up: Val di Cogne, Valsavarenche, Valgrisenche and Val di Rhêmes.
The main attraction is Gran Paradiso Natural Park, the oldest one in Italy. Thanks to its enchanting panoramas, accessible all year round, the Park is ideal for different sports activities, from cross-country skiing to mountain biking, from rafting to horse riding.
It worth mention also the beautiful Botanical Garden of Valnontey, with over 1000 varieties of preserved alpine plants, and spectacular castles of Sarre, Aymavilles and Saint-Pierre.
Union of the Grand Combin
Extended but not very populated, this union is gathered around the Great St Bernard Pass. It has being a very important path of access with Switzerland and the countries beyond the Alps since the ancient Romans, that have left here an abundant amount archaeological evidence.
In the Middle Ages, the Great St. Bernard became a crossing point for the Via Francigena.
Union of Mont-Émilius
It unites the municipalities around Aosta, rich in history, art and tradition. It is the area in Aosta Valley where the legacies of patois culture are the most intense. Among the monuments and manors in the territory, it stands out the famous Fénis Castle.
Built in the 14th century by the Challant family of Fénis, with a lot of towers and medieval frescoes, it is one of the most famous and best preserved castles in Italy , today home of Valdôtain Furnishing M useum.
Union of Mount Cervin
With its sharp and pointed shape, Mount Cervin earned, from the art critic John Ruskin, the epithet of “the most noble cliff in Europe”. This titanic cliff dominates the austere Valtournenche, full of snow peaks, passes and artificial lakes. The valley is known for the castles of Gamba and Ussel in Châtillon and, above all, the Breuil-Cervinia ski resort, one of the most prestigious in Italy since the 1800s.
Union of Monte Rosa
There are many attractions of the green valleys that extend at the foot of the second highest peak in Italy. From the Walser architecture to the ruins of ancient Via romana delle Gallie, passing through Pont Saint-Martin, the beautiful territory is rich in history.
Once again, castles stand out, like the Baraing, one of the most beautiful and recent in Valle d'Aosta, and the impressive complex of the Fort Bard. Formerly impregnable military fortress, it is now home of many cultural and tourist activities and it was the location of some Hollywood films.
Union Valdigne and Mont Blanc
The highest territory of the Valley. It also includes Val Veny, Val Ferret and Vallone di La Thuile. Of course, it is the best known community to the great international tourism, thanks to the glamor of Courmayeur and its ski resorts, the wonderful nature of La Thuile (such as ancient silver mines and Verney Lake), the charm of the villages of La Salle and Morgex, as well as the elegance of the historic thermal baths of Pré-Saint-Didier.
Union of the Walser Valdôtain Municipalities
The smallest and least densely populated of all the Valdôtain unions, and it is the area where it is stronger the cultural of Walser , German-speaking population who established in these places during the Middle Ages. Still today, these small villages are animated by centuries-old Walser parties, customs, dances and culinary traditions.
In Gressoney-Saint-Jean it stands the splendid Savoy Castle, which in the early twentieth century was transformed into a prestigious cultural gathering by Queen Margherita, hosting illustrious writers like Giosuè Carducci.
Sublime natural landscapes, romantic castles and ancient traditions, the region of Aosta Valley deserves to be discovered and loved, valley by valley, village by village. Don’t you think?