Aosta Valley

A little History

The first human settlements in the Valle d'Aosta - placed in the western sector of the alpine circle consists of the basin of the Dora Baltea and its tributaries - dating back to a period very ancient, certainly to the Third Millennium B.C. and are characterised by ethnic and cultural ties with the settlements of the zone that corrisponds today to the Swiss Valleys. In the eight century B.C. with the penetration of the Celts and their integration with the natives gave place to the formation of the population of the Salassi with which the Romans - in the campaign of expansion towards Gaul and Elvezia-clashed repeatedly until the year 25 B.C. when they managed to dominate them and founded the colony of "Augusta Praetoria", the actual city of Aosta. Roman evidence survives still today: enough to remember the magnificent monuments and the construction of the roads direct to the hills of Piccolo and Gran San Bernardo. After the invasions of various peoples happening over the course of the VI century A.D., in 575 the Valle d'Aosta was yielded to the Franks who held it for about three centuries: after the fall of the Emperor Charlemagne (888) it became part of the Kingdom of Burgundy together with the nearby transalpine regions which today belong to France and Switzerland. At the fall of the Burgundian dynasty which occured in the year 1032, the Valle d'Aosta was a subject to Count Umberto of Savoia, founder of the family of the same name as the counts - afterwards becoming Dukes - of Savoia who, dominated the local nobility, succeeded in reinforcing their power conceeding numerous privileges to the urban and rural communities and developing simultaneously politics of centralization of power. The development of this land came about during the Middle Ages until the Renaissance testified to by the castles and the towers that form an important patrimony not only for the quantity of the exsistent remains and for a large part, well preserved, but also for the richness of the architectural style that documents the evolutionary style of the military alpine architecture: from the primitive Roman fortifications, that are found at Graines, Cly and Saint-Germaine, to the majestic gothic forts of Fenis, Verres and Ussl; from the sumptuous Renaissance manner of Issogne, until the castles of Sarre, Aymavilles and Saint-Pierre, which during the course of time have been transformed into magnificent exclusive palazzi. Watchtowers of the valleys like austere stone sentinels, the castles of the Valle d'Aosta are today faithful guardians of a glorious past and have, by this time, become fascinating symbols of this region.
Through various events the power of the Savoia culminated in 1770 with the annulment of local governments. These centuries are marked by three fundamental moments: 1630, the year of the plague (documented and made famous by Alessandro Manzoni in his book "Promessi Sposi") which exterminated about two thirds of the population; the French invasion of 1691, of 1704-6 and finally that of 1792 by the Republican army; the annexation by France commanded by Napoleon together with the other regions of Piedmont happening in the year 1800. After the fall of the Napoleonic empire - with the Congress of Vienna in 1815 - the Valle d'Aosta returned to the Savoia making up part of the Kingdom of Sardinia which in 1861 was proclaimed Kingdom of Italy. The formation of the Italian state brought to the population of the Valle d'Aosta the springing up of various political and cultural problems which were aggravated during Fascism when they had to undergo a process of forced Italianization that brought about a strong phenomenon of emigration. After the Second World War before the proclamation of the Italian Republic, on the 7th September 1945, Umberto di Savoia, Lieutenant of the Kingdom, signed a legislative decree in which the Valle d' Aosta was recognized as a special administrative autonomy"in consideration to its geographic, economic and linguistic condition in all particulars"; this decree provided for, between other things, the election of members with full administrative powers.
Today it is a region with a special statute that forsees between the regulations to a greater extent, qualifying the free use of the French language of which the statute recognises the equalization with the Italian language.
The historical events here briefly explained determine an isolation of this land that had and has repercussions even on the use of customs of its inhabitants, including naturally also that of cooking that today is very uniqueand the ability to preserve - more than in other regions - the most ancient traditions.