I don’t think I will tire of the novelty of skipping over to Italy for the day.
And as Jamal has never been so we decided to take a day trip to Aosta to eat some pizza and gelato.
Aosta is a mountainous region in north-western Italy. It is bordered by France to the west, Switzerland to the north and the region of Piedmont to the south and east.
From Chamonix, you take the Mont Blanc tunnel (which is 42 euros – ouch!) but it’s the quickest (only?) route.
As soon as you cross the border the landscape is littered with castle-looking buildings.
We stopped along the way to take some photos of this beautiful one.
It may have just been a house, but given the oldest building in my home town of Canberra is just over 100 years old, it looked like a castle to me.
A short drive later, we arrived in Aosta. The town is very quaint with cobbled streets and colourful shop doors.
With adorable looking cafes and restaurants.
And perfect spots for photos.
Please note all the tourist activities close over lunch so make sure you allow time before or after lunch to explore.
I usually rely on Trip Advisor for my restaurant picks, but dad threw this idea to the wind and asked a local.
We were recommended Moderno Pizzeria. Here you will find a selection of pizzas, pastas, main dishes and desserts.
We opted for pizza and pasta which were very cheap (we’re used to Chamonix prices), at only 5-8 euros each.
And of course no Italian meal is complete with my favourite, Tiramisu.
We walked it off around town, taking in the beauty of it all.
First on our hit list were the crypts. Officially named Criptoportico Forense Forum – you can access them from the garden in the Piazza Goivanni. The Piazza is beautifully landscaped with flowers and lush grass.
While waiting for the crypts to open – Dad taught me some of his yoga moves.
The crypts are an underground building, with plastered interior illuminated by lightwells. The building developed in a horse-shoe shape with a double corridor and beamed vaults supported by pillars. There is a lot of debate over the specific use of the monument but it’s thought to have had a structural support function and for burials.
Dad & I walked around while blasting Italian opera on our phones, which the security guard was not impressed with. Sadly I wasn’t allowed to take photos inside.
Next we visited the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. It was originally a huge building, pretty much unchanged up to the Romanesque era, when the church formed its current appearance. The main baptistery dates back to the 4th century, while the frescoes on the church ceiling are Romanesque. The church has been renovated radically over the centuries.
A pretty imposing wooden crucifix hangs from the roof which dates back to the 14th century and mosaics covering 2 floors are still there from the 12th and 14th centuries.
The church now includes a Treasury Museum, which was opened in 1985, offering a significant amount of local art.
The facade of the cathedral is made up of a 16th century atrium decorated with statues and frescoes showing the life of the Virgin Mary.
I wasn’t sure I could take photos inside so I stayed on the safe side and didn’t.
Before heading home, we visited some of the remaining ancient Roman ruins. I think it’s rather cool that there are small towns still in existence that sit right in the middle of buildings that were there 2000 years ago.
The notable remains include:
The Arco d’Augusta – which honors Augustus, who gave his name to Augusta Pretoria, the towns original name.
The Roman Theatre – which is being restored as of 2003, while the Roman Forum, beneath ground level, is visitable.
The Porta Praetoria and Augusta Praetoria’s City Walls – which was the main gateway to the city of Augusta Praetoria, with three openings that are still visible today: a central one for carriages and two side openings for pedestrians.
The Tour Fromage (the Cheese Tower) – which is alongside the Amphitheater and currently hosts art exhibits.
The Main Piazza in Aosta – which hosts one the Italy’s top historic cafes, the Caffe Nazionale, in operation since 1886. Sadly I didn’t make it here as we went on a Monday.
Other Roman ruins are scattered about Aosta as they are in Rome.
Naturally we stopped for Gelati at Grom on our way out. My brother introduced me to this Italian gelato company and it’s up there in terms of taste but their flavours are on the basic side. I went for Pistachio, Nutella and Egg Cream.
For more things to do in Aosta, check out this post.
Anisa – The Macadames. xx