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Gressoney's winter wonderland

by Elena Guarneri last modified 2008-06-20 15:10

We go to Gressoney for an eclectic mix of winter sport and culture for a holiday to suit all tastes

Gressoney's winter wonderland Lying under the protective gaze of Monte Rosa, the picturesque towns of Gressoney, Gressoney-Saint-Jean and Gressoney-la-Trinité, once united under the same council administration, welcome us into the Valle del Lys. There is a difference in height of around 300 metres between the towns. 300 metres of breathtaking landscape, ski runs, history, tradition and culture. This is the home of the Walser people, an ethnic group which speak Titsch, an ancient form of the Alemannian dialect. The Walsers were of ancient Germanic descent and had an in-built sense of business -to the extent that the valley where they settled became known locally as Krämertal, Valley of the Merchants. The Walsers have kept their German roots intact and their dialect is still taught in schools on a par with Italian.
These mountains were also a favourite haunt of Queen Margherita of Italy who had Castello Savoia built in the area between 1900 and 1904. The ornate mansion is the only modern castle in the Val d'Aosta and was bought by the regional administration in 1981. Throughout the year it hosts a series of cultural initiatives and events and gardening enthusiasts will enjoy a walk in its rockery, home to a number of rare alpine shrubs and plants. The views from the castle are breath-taking and on a clear day you can see the Lyskam glacier.

Gressoney's winter wonderland
Are you a snow fiend? Then Gressoney is the place for you. There's a 25 km cross-country circuit (one of the longest in the Val d’Aosta), while downhill skiers will delight in the 180 kms of runs spread throughout the Monte Rosa area (Val d’Ayas, Valle di Gressoney and Valsesia). A day's ski-pass costs around 30 Euros: somewhat expensive but valid for all the runs in the area (including connections between valleys). A ski-pass for Gressoney costs from 13 Euros in La Trinité to 20 Euros in Saint-Jean. Those of you who prefer to stay off the snow can still keep fit on the ice-skating rinks at the Bar Sport in Saint-Jean (tel. +39-0125-355455) and at the Sport Hus in La Trinité (tel. +39-0125-366297).

Fairytale castles
Keep some time on your way back for a tour around some of Val d'Aosta's castles. With your map at the ready make your way down the valley towards Pont Saint Martin. Once you've past Saint Vincent keep your eyes open for Bard Fortress and Verres Castle, a military fortress from the Gothic period. If you are in the area between February 9th and 12th then don't miss the Carnival at Verres when Princess Caterina is crowned and dances with the common people.

Verres Carnival - - Verres Carnival (in Italian only) - - Gressoney's portal (in Italian only)
Monte Rosa - - Skiing in the Monte Rosa area
Hiking in Gressoney - - An itinerary for walking enthusiasts
Val D'Aosta's castles - - some of the castles in the Val d'Aosta region
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