Postcard of the Week: Valle d’Aosta
The Italian region of Valle d’Aosta, also known as the Aosta Valley, borders France to the west and Switzerland to the north. France and Italy share the Mont Blanc (or Monte Bianco in Italian), the highest point of Europe at 4,810m above sea level, and the two countries are connected by a 12km-long tunnel. On the French side of the tunnel is Chamonix, a large and very popular ski resort, and on the Italian side is Courmayeur, a delightful little resort, whose centre feels more like a cute little Alpine village, complete with cobbled streets and old stone buildings that now house designer boutiques. There are none of the tall concrete apartment blocks that have ruined so many other Alpine resorts.
Courmayeur is also where I did my second ski season! I spent four months in this idyllic picture-perfect resort with its delicious Italian food and Italian friendliness. I lived and worked in Hotel Cristallo which is on the main street through the town, Via Roma. And directly opposite the hotel is Bar Roma, one of the top ten après-ski bars in the Alps, which keeps to the Italian tradition of offering aperitivi (a lavish buffet of food between 6-8pm that’s free to anyone who comes for a drink). The skiing in Courmayeur is good and you can even ski the Vallee Blanche, an incredible off-piste ski glacier route starting from the Aiguille du Midi, which is 17km-long with a vertical descent of 2800m.
The other well-known resorts in the Aosta Valley are Cervinia and La Thuile, but there are also smaller resorts such as Champoluc, Gressoney and Pila.