Aosta Valley occupies the sweetest little corner of northwest Italy. To me Aosta is the fairy tale region of Italy – full of history, romance and of course – castles. Here in the smallest region of Italy you will find French-speaking Italians, surrounded by The Alps and every kind of castle you can imagine. What could be more fairy tale than THAT setting?
So why are there so many castles in such a small region? According to the Aosta Valley tourism site, during the Middle Ages, since there was no controlling authority in Aosta, nobles made wealthy off the Alpine toll road access were able to freely take the land, appoint themselves lords and extend their control to the lands below. I love this story as it really shows how things just do not change in Italy! The toll road to get to Aosta is – to this day – the most expensive stretch of highway in Italy. And Aosta is only one of two autonomous regions in Italy as well – the controlling authority is still relatively limited (as compared with the rest of Italy).
Below are a few of the beautiful castles you can find in Aosta. Many of these castles can be seen from the highway (see the map) and are easily accessible. For a more extensive list see: www.lovevda.it
1. Aymavilles Castle
The Aymavilles Castle has been through lots of renovations since its construction in the 12th century. Originally it served as a defensive function, but later became a luxury home in the 18th century. These days it is open to the public, but for the moment is closed for renovations.
Address: 11010 Aymavilles
2. Verrès Castle
Verrès is a 14th-century castle built as a military fortress noted for its single structure design as opposed to a series of buildings contained by a fortress wall. This castle is right across the street from Issogne Castle.
Address: 11029 Verrès
3. Issogne Castle
Issogne Castle as mentioned above is right across the street from Verrès. This castle is of interest more for its interior than its exterior apart from the pomegranate tree fountain in the garden. There is a frescoed portico depicting life in the Middle Ages. Another point of interest is graffiti that is centuries old left not only by visitors and guests of the castles, but also the servants and the owners providing intimate insights about life in the castle.
Address: Piazza Castello, 11020 Issogne
4. Forte di Bard
You might recognize this Castle from the movie “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Bard is an imposing, 19th century complex built on top of the ruins of a 10th century castle by the Savoy family. Since its recent restoration in 2006, it is now open to the public and also has musical performances during the summer.
Take a look at the trailer for “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” The first few seconds feature this fortress.
Address: Forte di Bard, 11020 Bard
5. Savoy Castle
Although built in the early 1900’s, the style of this castle is in the medieval, Lombard style. I love this building. It is so romantic and looks like a mini Walt Disney castle. Yes – total romance.
Address: Località Belvedere, 11025 Gressoney-Saint-Jean
Aosta is only a 2.5 hour drive from Milan. It is an excellent option for day trip or weekend getaway. In addition to the numerous castles to see, there are excellent ski resorts, the terme at Courmayeur, The Gran Paradiso National Park as well as great eating.
Fabulous – mountains and castles get me every time, this area looks just perfect.
Hi Joy….yes….it is a fab area. I guess it is super cool to me because all of the places are so close to one another AND…even if you cannot visit them all, they are seriously right off the highway, so you see them as you drive from Milan to Aosta. It is a really nice region. Very magical to me. Thanks for stopping by. Have a good weekend.
Your blog never fails to make me dream of taking off to Italy!! *drool*
Hi Sophie! Awwww…thanks for that sweet comment. Yes….lots to see and do here…..the Italians don’t realize how good they have it sometimes. Have a great weekend!
Ok, you touched on my one big dream…..to ride from castle to castle on horseback! It has to happen….gaahhh!
ha, ha, ha…Susan!!! I can actually imagine you doing that!!! Well…this is the perfect place to make that dream come true.
So, so pretty! There is just so much to do up there near Milan. You guys are lucky!
Hi….this is the road I took Mamma and Daddy on to get to France…they got to see all these places (well…errr…..as we zoomed by) …but still. The fortress (Bard) is so huge, Mamma even got some decent shots from the freeway.
I know! Crazy right?!?!!? Being from Houston, we get excited by a building from 1935! 🙂 Have a good weekend….
These castles are stunning. How amazing there are so many in that area.
hi Lyn….I know, and there are tons more…it is a fab drive…
They really do seem like they are right out of a fairytale book! So pretty and I love their history.
Hi Kathy….I know right???!!? Complete Fairy tale. You can really feel the history even driving along the highway. You know…to imagine what life must have been like in those times….it is a very moving place.
Looks like a fascinating area with such impressive castles! Hope you are having a great week.
Hi Graham…..yes…I was able to take my parents there on the way to Annecy….it was a great trip. Thanks for stopping by!
Awesome, and very impressive castles. Would love to visit all of them. So mysericals, and romantic, like a fairytale.
Hi Hanne…yes…..such a sweet and somewhat hidden part of Italy.
These are so beautiful! My very first trip to Europe was with my son who was competing in World Junior Climbing championships in Courmayeur. My love for Italy was sealed from that point on.
Oh Sue!!! Courmayeur!!! Fabulous!! And they also have the fab thermal spa there!! It is a spectacular place!
I didn’t go to the spa but I can tell you it was a wonderful trip. I absolutely loved it!
A great reason to return! 🙂 Have a good weekend!
Thank you for this article!
Castles are my passion, therefore Aosta Valley is one of my goals.
Thank you for info.
Hi Victor! I love castles too….Aosta is for sure a great place to see them! Thanks for stopping by.