Go big on summer adventures in the smallest region of Italy – Aosta Valley

From mountaineering with several peaks over 4,000 m to simple walks with a varied offer of hikes for all levels featuring beautiful chapels, delightful hamlets, alpine nature and spectacular mountain vistas, Aosta is also a destination of choice for cycling and mountain biking enthusiasts, with dedicated tracks and numerous stations offering bikes parks and downhill circuits, such as Pila, La Thuile or Breuil-Cervinia. Not to mention the many golf courses, water sports such as canyoning, rafting or canoeing and even summer skiing. Here is a selection of summer activities to do in Aosta:

Go Hiking at Cammino Balteo: This is a circular itinerary of under 220 miles with an altitude between 500 and 1900 meters above sea level. The circuit which can be taken in both directions is divided into 23 stages of about 4-6 hours each and takes you through more than 40 municipalities of the Aosta Valley region. A journey into the innermost heart of the territory and the local community, where human history has left the most evident signs of its passage, to discover the architecture of the villages as well as local traditions, still alive and deeply rooted, but also the rural landscape: pastures, vineyards, cellars and creameries. Cammino Balteo is a route that thrills in the presence of Roman and medieval history, but which also becomes an immersion in nature: lakes, waterfalls, nature reserves and wooded areas. The route is suitable to different seasons and thematic interests which allows everyone to adapt it to their own needs and time available. Read more.

Cycle through the extensive network of the valley: enjoy one of many cycling itineraries covering a total of over 1,000 kms of dirt tracks and paved trails. Those who love road cycling, for example, can try their hand at various scenic routes– some more accessible, such as the cycle path of the valley floor among vineyards and castles, and other more challenging, with climbs and descents along the great Alpine hills – while wooded paths, mule tracks and farm roads will be perfect for those who prefer mountain bike adventures. The region’s peaked and vertical area makes it also an ideal place for downhill, freeride or cross country. Various bike parks and enduro routes can be reached via chairlifts suitable for taking cyclists to the top along with their bikes. Read more.

Fan of the Giro d’Italia? the 13th stage of the Giro d’Italia passes through the Aosta Valley on Friday 19th May: departure from Borgofranco d’Ivrea and arrival in Crans-Montana passing by the Great Saint Bernard mountain pass which will be the Cima Coppi of the 2023 edition. The route of this stage, for a total of 207 km, has a classic alpine configuration: a flat approach, followed by a series of very long climbs interspersed with short flat sectors, typical of the U-shaped valleys of the western Alps, to reach the 2469 m of the Gran San Bernardo pass, the highest point in terms of altitude reached by cyclists during the Giro.

Soak in Nature at Gran Paradiso National Park: home to rich natural heritage of rare beauty, including protected areas, sites belonging to the Natura 2000 ecological network and mountain botanical gardens the Aosta region encompasses a total of 10 nature reserves including wetlands, areas populated by butterflies, migratory birds and many other wonders of nature.

Gran Paradiso National Park (the first and oldest Italian national park) is home to 59 glaciers, covering 70,000 hectares (173,000 acres), between 800 meters above sea level at the bottom of the valley and 4,061 meters to the summit of Gran Paradiso. In the woods at the bottom of the valley, you’ll find pines, firs, larches and white firs. As you climb, the trees give way to alpine meadows, very flowered in spring, then to mountains and glaciers. The rich fauna of the park includes many alpine species and it is rare to hike without encountering animals. The ibex, symbol of the park, of a fairly confident nature, is often found in the pastures. The chamois is common, however it is more fearful and difficult to observe whilst another resident, the groundhog is everywhere. The park’s history is linked to the protection of the ibex; in 1856, King Victor Emmanuel II declared these mountains a Royal Hunting Reserve, to save the ibex threatened with extinction. He had also created a specialized guardhouse and had wildlife corridors and hiking trails built. In 1920, the king donated the reserve to the Italian state for the creation of a national park. It was then in 1922 that the Gran Paradiso National Park was created.