Super Alpine

45.7350° N, 7.3131° E

Aosta

Coffee and ruins in the valley of Augustus


Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta
Photo: Mat Reding

Aosta holds a prime position on the borders of France and Switzerland that gave it considerable strategic importance to the Roman Empire. Situated in a valley at the confluence of the Great and the Little St Bernard passes, Aosta is a classic Italian town modelled on a Roman plan.

Aosta is the principal city of the Valle d'Aosta — the Valley of Augustus named after the Roman Emperor Augustus. The ancient Roman town walls of the Augusta Prætoria Salassorum are still preserved almost in their entirety. The main road divides the city into two halves, running from east to west. This arrangement was created to make guarding the road priority of the town. The town is a mix of modern and ancient with the façade of the Roman theatre that held up to 4000 spectators still remaining amongst other contemporary buildings.

Mountain at the end of the street
Mountain at the end of the street
Roman ruins
Roman ruins

The Piazza Émile Chanoux in the centre of town is classically Italian and great place to stop and enjoy the views, the architecture and a beverage. Home to the town hall, its name belies its beauty and many cafes and shops the piazza is on the route towards the town's ruins.

As well as access to France via the Little St Bernard pass, Aosta is also a short motorway hop away from Courmayeur and the Mont Blanc tunnel. This makes it a busy through fare for trade and the perfect stopping point for culture and espresso on a loop of the three countries.

Streets of Aosta
Photo: Mat Reding
Statue of Neptune
Neptune

As well as cafes and ruins, a busy industrial area can be found by the motorway with an unusual addition of a cable car. Aosta sits in a valley with plenty of mountains to be explored on either side. The cable car in Aosta runs to Pila, a winter and summer resort high on the southern side of the valley. Aosta also sits on the southern side of the Mont Blanc range and if the weather is poor in France, it's a short trip through the tunnel to the often sunny Italian side. The weather and the coffee are better in Italy.