While Aosta Valley (ay· ow· stuh va· lee) is Italy’s smallest region, its rich history and unique landscape are nothing short of grand. Located on the northwestern border of Italy, Aosta Valley lies between France and Switzerland. Its close proximity to other countries makes it a multicultural hub for diverse communities, exquisite food and views unlike any other across the continent. In 1860, Aosta Valley became the only French speaking area in Italy after the region was annexed to France.
Centuries of French influence have caused both French and Italian to become the official languages of the region. Many town and street names are in also French, while some have been translated to Italian over time. The location is named after the major valley that runs through the entire region. It acts as the heart of the area, spreading the deep history, culture and beauty through its center and veins of 13 side valleys. Although valley may bring to mind a low-lying area, but Aosta Valley is a true alpine environment, and is home to over six hundred mountains, including some of the highest peaks in all of Europe.
Its impressive scenery makes it a bucket list location for skiers and snowboarders during the winter season. The area’s varying heights makes it challenging to grow crops, but with challenge comes ingenuity. Farmers compensate for the steep elevation by growing crops on terraces cut out from the sides of mountains. Major crops in the area include potatoes, rye, apples and pears. The highest vineyards in Europe are located in Aosta Valley, making their wine tastings and vineyard tours extremely coveted by tourists.