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The Aosta Valley

In less than 1 hour drive from Turin you can easily reach the area of the Western Alps. A unique place, with a typical alpine scenery, deep valleys, lakes, summits crowned with castles and the beautiful villages of the valley.

The Aosta Valley has many interesting landmarks such as Mont Blanc, the highest point in the Alps and of Europe, and other major mountains like Monte Rosa (4,683 meters), the Matterhorn (from 4810 meters) or Gran Paradiso (4,061 m) at the Gran Paradiso National Park. This was the first italian natural park, which was created to protect the alpine ibex -a symbol of the park- and other alpine species. Here are around 2000 different species of vegetation amongst the 5,600 varieties cataloged of the entire Italian flora.

Cows are the queens of the valley. If visiting in spring and fall, sure you'll be there to witness the "Bataille de Reines" exhibits (battle of queens), that farmers organize in the region to establish the reign of these cattle, which is decorated with bouquets of flowers to distinguish her from the others. It is a fascinating spectacle that locals and tourists enjoy.

We were lucky to happen to be there for a Sunday's battle of queens in the pretty village of Cogne, at the foot of Gran Paradiso. Thousands of people come this far to enjoy a nice day outdoors and admire closely these animals. It's a little shocking of a show for outside but it is a bloodless event for animals.

These cows produce Fontina, a cheese with denomination of origin in the valley. Another typical food of the region is the motzetta, served thinly sliced ??as an appetizer, accompanied by rye bread. Or the jambon de Bosses, which is seasoned with herbs de Provence.

The Aosta Valley is a place of myths and legends, with magnificent castles that dot the whole place. It has a rich heritage that boasts over 100 structures from medieval castles, watchtowers or churches that can be visited.

And as of the first of November, the ski season opens in the tracks of Cervinia and Valtournenche. Cervinia is known as the "land of many waters" by the many rivers and lakes that surround it. It is also one of the most famous ski destinations in the Italian Alps.

Also Chamois, that happens to be the highest village in Europe, at 1815 meters. A pretty village between idyllic landscapes, with a nearby alpine resort. It has five ski slopes and alpine hiking trails of striking beauty.

One of the most frequent visits made in the Aosta Valley is the ascent of Mont Blanc, starting from the village of La Palud. A funicular ride somewhat intimidating for those who suffer from vertigo, but it's worth to have a 360 ° view over the entire Alps. The ride has two stops: one at 2000 meters, where you have a restaurant to test their culinary specialties in a pleasant terrace. You can also visit the alpine botanical garden. The second stop is the Torino refuge, at 3,375 meters. From the cable car stop, you still have to climb a very steep metal stairs and if you're lucky and the sky is clear, you can enjoy the magnificent views of the snowy mountains.

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