Val d’Aosta

Italy is made up of 20 regions, each with distinctive characteristics. Here, you’ll get an overview of Val d’Aosta to get you started on planning a Val d’Aosta trip.

Way up in the north of Italy, the border regions all have a history of being traded back and forth between conquering entities. Val d’Aosta is no different. It’s part of Italy today, but it’s still more than a little bit French.

Val d’Aosta’s cultural background led it it becoming one of Italy’s five semi-autonomous regions, allowing it to maintain its unique character. You’re just as apt to hear French as you are to hear Italian, and you might even hear the distinctive local dialect, Valdôtain. And while the winter months bring skiers and snowboarders in droves, most of the year the Val d’Aosta is pretty overlooked by visitors.

Val d’Aosta Basics

  • The Italian name for this region is technically Valle d’Aosta, but you’ll most often hear it abbreviated to Val d’Aosta (vahl DOW|stah). The English translation is Aosta Valley. There’s even an official French name for the region – Vallée d’Aoste.
  • The demonym for people or things from Val d’Aosta is valdostani (masculine plural), valdostane (feminine plural), valdostano (masculine singular), or valdostana (feminine singular).
  • The capital of Val d’Aosta is Aosta.
  • Val d’Aosta is in the far northwest of Italy and shares border with the Piedmont region in Italy plus both France and Switzerland.
  • There are no UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Val d’Aosta – it’s one of only four regions with that distinction – though there is one site on the tentative list.

Val d’Aosta Travel Tips

creative commons graphic by Otourly, modified by me

creative commons graphic by Otourly, modified by me

The Val d’Aosta looks small on a map, and it is – it’s Italy’s smallest region by area, as well as its least populated. It’s almost entirely made up of mountains, some of them enormous – both Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn are on the border. Those mountains and the distinct lack of people in most parts of the region are a big draw for some visitors – skiers in winter, hikers in summer – but the region still gets far fewer tourists than some other parts of Italy.

All that mountainous terrain is dramatic to look at, but difficult to navigate if you don’t have a car. You’ll be able to get to Aosta by train, but after that you’ll need to look into local buses to get to smaller towns or rent a car to really have the freedom to get around the region.

As mentioned, Val d’Aosta isn’t high on most traveler must-see lists, so it’s largely undisturbed. That can be great news for the adventurous tourist who loves the great outdoors, doesn’t mind driving in Italy, and is game to start speaking Italian (or French!) with the locals.

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