Beyond the Village


At 760m, Fontainemore is a year round destination. Its idyllic riverside setting makes a great base to explore the Gressoney Valley, the longest in the Region, and the nearby Valley of Champorcher. Villages here feel timeless as rivers tumble under a series of extraordinary Roman bridges; their colour and temper dictated by distant  glaciers. Plazas ebb and flow with patois; their murmurs diluted through fountains and drowned by hourly chimes. From each centre, a myriad of ancient pathways connect nearby hamlets with breathtaking architecture and fairytale design.

Nature has also left its indelible mark. A patchwork of  coloured lakes, glistening waterfalls, and glaciated valleys  all speak of the forces at work. Narrow canyons have been carved through millennia whilst boulder fields and avalanches continue to re-sculpt an ever changing landscape. But all this pressure can have unexpected advantages. Many a  rock pool has been forged, perfect for summer bathing and riverside picnics.

From the water's edge, a series of spectacular "Incan-style" stairways ascend the steep sided valleys. The woods here can at times feel bereft as a succession of "ghost villages" still gaze out over their long forsaken terraces. Inside, the dwellings still house furniture and tools, acting like eerie museums to a lost way of life. As modernity arrived, successive generations descended the hardships of the higher slopes, leaving their legacies and livelihoods behind. The woods, however, are still foraged by locals and animals alike. Here you can find precious porcini mushrooms or witness wild boar and deer in their natural habitat. Most days you can expect to see "fauna" from the comfort of your garden.

By mid-October, the forests are in flux, leaves change colour and the scent of roasted chestnuts infuse with conifer on the breeze. It is the last chance to stock the larders before the first snows arrive. In the higher pastures, shepherds cling to an ancient way of life where cheese and dairy can still be bought at source. With the snow-melt, spring flowers return along with the cattle. By season’s end, the desarpa (returning from the mountains) is one of the most spectacular Valdostanan sights. Beyond the pastures lie a wonderland of Alpine lakes and access to some of the most famous long distance trails in Italy – Alta Via, Tor des Géants. And if you really needed more, the nearby reserve of Monte Mars and Coumarial provide some of the best ski mountaineering, snowshoeingtrekking (including a Via Ferrata),  and mountain biking in the region.