Nestled in Italy's northwestern corner (very near the border with France), this tiny region is known more for it's mountains and open spaces than for big cities and ancient ruins. The biggest draw of Aosta Valley is its proximity to the world-famous adventure-zone, the Alps, and the largest mountain in Western Europe, Mont Blanc, which rises to an elevation of 4,810 meters (15,781 feet). There are a number of ways to scale the mountain, the easiest of which involves a succession of cable cars and trams (check out
During the summer, there are plenty of outdoor activities in abundance, including hiking and rock climbing, with numerous peaks and valleys worthy of your time, including another famous peak, Matterhorn (Monte Cervino), whose most popular passage is the Hörnli ridge. Head for the alpine resort of Breuil-Cervinia for a convenient place from which to take on this climb.
Surprisingly, there's much more to Aosta Valley. We could see you holing up for a week in some of the tiny towns throughout the region as you and your friends pit yourselves against the elements and put a further stamp on the world for the sake of adventure. If you love seeing the world from a pair of skis or a rugged pair of boots, then there are few better options in Italy. And besides, prices are far cheaper here than among those time-keeping Swiss next door.
Note:Take a break from the powder and hit up the tiny town of Bard, where the domineering 11th century fortress peers down on the town from above. It's a legitimate culture break and an excellent photo opportunity.