A Tour of the Fascinating Castles of the Aosta Valley
Castles in the Aosta Valley
The Aosta Valley in Italy, is rightly considered the home of castles. Thanks to the splendid medieval architecture scattered throughout its splendid landscapes, our region can boast a small record in terms of castles open and accessible to the public. What is the reason for such a high concentration of castles and towers in a territory as small as the Valle d'Aosta? There are several factors behind this wealth, above all the peculiar love of the medieval lords of these districts for autonomy from the central power. Indeed, the autonomy of Valle d'Aosta has ancient roots... Each family, by building its own residence, contributed to the increase in the number of fortresses and castles, fuelling a rivalry based on ostentation, militarism and strategy. Today we have the opportunity to visit some of the most evocative places in the Aosta Valley, discovering the castles that have occupied them, becoming an integral part of the modern historical landscape.
There are many castles to visit, each with its own peculiarities. The Castle of Verrès a revolutionary piece of architecture in its monobloc form, perched on a steep path; the Castle of Issogne a residence that surprises from the outside with its formal rigidity and enchants from the inside with its frescoes; the Castle of Sarre, able to transport the visitor to the Savoy court of the 19th and early 20th centuries, amidst royal hunting and love of the mountains; The Château de Saint-Pierre, which houses the Regional Museum of Natural Sciences, but is already one of the oldest and most articulated historical treasures in the region; the Chateau of Aymavilles which hides a medieval jewel under a sophisticated 18th century film, and whose carpentry in the attic offers a priceless example; the Chateau of Fénis, a true icon of the Middle Ages, only apparently untouched by the so-called Dark Ages.
And let us not forget the castles, now reduced to mere ruins, but able to evoke suggestions that only ruins can do: from the castle of Cly in Saint-Denis to that of Châtel-Argent in Villeneuve; from the castle of Quart, currently being restored, to the castle of Graines in Brusson, in the Val d'Ayas; from the castle of Montjovet to that of Pont-Saint-Martin, at the entrance to the Aosta Valley itself. To name but a few. And the Forte di Bard? Would it not be more correct to call it the Castle of Bard? Yes, because the current fortress occupies a coveted and highly strategic position, which in the Middle Ages was occupied by a castle, itself the heir of even more ancient fortifications.
And once again, Aosta: just take a stroll around its walls and you will see that the Middle Ages also left their mark here, with the construction of an infinite number of towers, each of which belonged to a different nobles families and each of which is capable of surprising the visitor with its unique shape. The Tour de Bramafam, the Tourneuve, the Tour des Seigneurs de Quart, the Tour Fromage, the Tour du Baillage, the Tour du Lépreux, to name but a few of the most famous, can be easily seen just by walking around the town.
In short, a rich and exciting Middle Ages, still very much alive and full of charm.