Val d'Aosta itinerary
Arrival in Turin, my favourite Italian city: miles of arcades with bookshops, chocolate shops, excellent museums and historic cafes. We will spend the first two nights in an elegant 4-star hotel in the pedestrian centre of the city. We’ll meet for an aperitivo and then have dinner in a neighbouring restaurant. (Dinner)
This morning you will be taken on a guided walk through Turin's centre visiting some of the city's Baroque splendour, the legacy of the Savoy kings who ruled from here for nearly six centuries. After lunch, the afternoon and evening are free. (Lunch)
Today we head north, following the course of the Dora River from Turin, into the mountains. The ‘Serra di Ivrea’ is a large moraine, a forested amphitheatre formed by glacial debris at the entrance to the Valle d’Aosta. We’ll stop here to visit a magnificent castle that for ten centuries the home of one of Italy’s great families and is now a property of the Italian Environment Fund. After lunch at the castle, we drive into the Valle d’Aosta itself.
Our base for the next three days is in a beautiful German-speaking village at the head of one of the small tributary valleys, dominated by a glacier and the looming form of Monte Rosa (the second highest peak in the Alps). This valley is the heartland of the Walser people, German-speaking people who settled in the valley in 13th century. A form of ancient form of German is still spoken and their traditions are alive and well. Our accommodation is in a charming, family-run, 4-star hotel, where we will have dinner. (Dinner)
The walk today starts from the front door of the hotel, where we pick up an historic trail that takes us to the head of the valley. From here we take a cable car up to a high pasture with spectacular views of the valley and the encircling mountains. After coffee, we contour around the valley under Mt Rosa passing a glacier and a number of lakes. Along the way, we will have lunch in a ‘rifugio’ (mountain lodge) before coming back to the valley floor from where you can walk back to base (4 kms, 1 hr) or catch a bus back. (10 kms, 5 hrs, 500 mts gain). The evening is free. (Lunch)
Today we will immerse ourselves in the local Walser culture. This morning’s walk again starts from front door of the hotel but this time we head south, following the historic ‘Grand Walser Trail’, passing through old stone hamlets and pastures that have remained unchanged for centuries, stopping at a rifugio for a coffee.
We take a steep path down into the largest village in the valley. After a delicious lunch of local specialities, we will be taken on a guided visit of the handsome castle that was once the summer residence of Queen Margherita in the late 19th century, now a museum. We’ll get a lift back to base where the evening is free. (9 kms, 4 hrs, 365 mts gain). (Lunch).
Today we leave the valley and head west up the Valle d’Aosta to our next base, in the foothills of the Gran Paradiso National Park. On the way, we’ll stop to visit the most interesting, castle in the Valle d’Aosta, dating from the 13th century. After a guided visit, we’ll have a lunch in the courtyard of a lovely agriturismo.
The Gran Paradiso National Park, Italy’s oldest, was founded in 1922 when the King Vittorio Emanuele donated his hunting reserve to the state. Our base is a lovely village-resort in one of most picturesque and unspoilt valleys of the region. Our hotel is a beautiful 4-star hotel, a green-shuttered mountain hideaway that dates from the 1920’s. After settling in, the evening is free. (Lunch)
This morning, we walk out of our hotel and up towards the foot of Gran Paradiso, the only mountain over four thousand metres wholly in Italian territory. After an initial steep climb, we are rewarded by extraordinary views, walking towards an amphitheatre of glaciers descending from an impressive chain of peaks from Mt Herbertet to the Gran Paradiso. The walk follows a good trail beside the river, acrossing alpine pastures and forests to the foot of the mountain. We’ll have light lunch along the way (16 kms, 4.5 hrs, 283 mts gain). We will have dinner back at our hotel. (Lunch/dinner)
Today we visit the regional capital, Aosta city, a pleasant small town surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Controlling one of the Roman empire’s main roads, Aosta had great importance in antiquity. Although it is still surrounded by its Roman walls and containing many monuments from this era, the character of the city is more southern French than Italian. The architecture is essentially Burgundian (thanks to the town’s allegiance to the house of Challant) and the people speak a French dialect. More than enough to keep us busy for the day. We’ll have a delicious lunch in town. Once we’ve returned to our base, the rest of the day and evening is free. (Lunch)
Today we get a short lift up to the side of the valley to pretty village. From here we follow a hiking trail into a neighbouring valley, with more spectacular scenery to a small stone hamlet, which was originally summer accommodation for the ‘pastori’ who walked their cattle up here to graze on the summer meadows. We’ll have a cut lunch up here, with the opportunity to soak our feet in the cool water of a mountain stream. Afterwards, we’ll retrace our way back to the village, where we can have a cold drink before getting a lift back down to base (12 kms, 5 hours, 566 mts). Dinner tonight will be in a traditional restaurant in town.
This morning we head to Courmayeur, our last stop and the tour grande finale. Flush against the French border, Courmayeur, has combined upmarket ski facilities with an ancient Roman military base that controlled the perilous mountain roads that crossed the Alps. Its piece de resistance is the towering Mt Blanc (Monte Bianco in Italian), Europe’s highest mountain, 4810 mts of solid rock and ice that rises like an impregnable wall above the end of the Valle d’Aosta.
On the way, we will visit the most important producer of wines in the Valle d’Aosta. Harvesting permitting, we will be taken on a private visit to the vineyards and winery. After a tasting of their wines we will drive to a marvellous restaurant down in the valley, for a very special lunch. After checking into our 4-star, family-run hotel, the rest of the afternoon and evening is free. (Lunch)
This morning we get a short lift into the neighbouring Ferret Valley and enjoy a beautiful panoramic walk at the foot of Monte Bianco. After following the Ferret River, we climb up to th ridge and following this back down the valley. Along th way, we will have lunch in a ‘rifugio’ dedicated to one of Italy’s most loved mountaineers. We then walk back down into the valley, where we will be picked and driven back to our hotel (12 kms, 4 hours, 400 mts gain). The evening is free.
This morning we catch the famous Monte Bianco Skyway, a spectacular cable car that was inaugurated in 2015, to Punta Helbronner, 3470 mts. From here we will take another, smaller cable car across the dramatic glaciers of the Aiguille du Midi, arriving on the French side of Monte Bianco. Once back in Italian territory, we’ll have a light lunch before taking the cable car back down to Courmayeur, where the afternoon is free. In the evening, we will have our farewell dinner at our hotel’s excellent restaurant. (Lunch/dinner)
This morning, we get an early start, drive 1.5 hours back to Turin, which has excellent national and international rail and air connections.
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Courmayeur and the Val d'Aosta walking tour
6 September to 18 September, 2024
The 2025 dates: 5 September to 17 September 2025
Tour costs quoted are in Australian dollars (AUD)
Single supplement $1000 (double room for single use)
•12 nights accommodation (see the itinerary for details) in 4-star boutique hotels
•All breakfast, and all lunches and dinners (wine included) listed in the itinerary
•All transfers during the tours
•All taxes and service charges at the hotels and restaurants
•All paid admissions during the tour
•7 guided walks
•Services of a full-time professional tour guide
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