Part 3: Aosta, Italy & the St. Bernard Pass
This weeks blog is all about majestic mountain views, brightly coloured streets, old buildings and the most delicious pizza.
I’m midway through my travel series on Switzerland and this week is technically more about Italy – the little town of Aosta in particular and the magnificent st. Bernard pass which stretches through the Alps between the Italian and Swiss borders. If you’d like to catch up on the series and see the breathtaking views so far you can see part 1 here and part 2 here.
One of my favourite things about visiting Europe is the ease with which you can skip over the borders and be in a new country by simply driving a few minutes in a particular direction depending on whereabout you are.
As mentioned in my first blog post about Switzerland, I was staying in a town called Ollon which was about 40 minutes in either direction from both Italy and France. And because of this sweetspot that I found myself in (read dream location) one of my day trips was a fabulous trip over the border into Italy.
Driving up to Italy, the first thing you notice is the magnitude and scale of the Alps. If you have never been to Europe, I would say it’s worth going just to see these magnificent mountains.
Now I come from a country where we had quite an impressive mountain range – the Drakensburg are definitely not unimpressive…but when you put them next to the Alps, they aren’t even in the same league!!! I actually remember remarking to Michelle that it’s mindblowing to think that in times gone by people actually made it over the Alps with their horses and wagons.
On our way to Italy, we cut through the Alps via the St. Bernard tunnel so that we could get there a bit quicker and enjoy the day with lunch and window shopping. Our destination was a beautiful little town called Aosta.
Aosta is an old Roman town in the Western Alps. It has beautiful Roman ruins dating back to 25BC – the Porto Praetoria – which are still in magnificent condition. The streets are filled with lovely stores full of the most delicious looking produce and cleverly designed chocolates. everywhere I turned there were so many things to see and experience. As mentioned in my previous post, I love old doors and one very funny moment was when I went to stand in front of this beautifully carved door and as Michelle was clicking away someone opened the door. I wasn’t expecting the door to open and I just about died when the door moved!! hahaha….I popped the image that Michelle timed perfectly as I spun around at the noise…See if you can spot it in the gallery below. :p
The people of Italy (like most Europeans) enjoy afternoon siestas and after lunch the streets come alive with people strolling the town and enjoying each other’s company. It was so amazing to see how a sleepy town came alive on a Sunday afternoon.
The St. Bernard Pass
Once we were done in Aosta it was time to head back and to get the full effect of the Alps, Michelle took us home via the St. Bernard Pass.
The St. Bernard Pass is remarkable in so many ways. A few fun facts about the pass:
It’s the third highest road pass in Switzerland and the lowest pass lying on the ridge between the two highest mountains of the Alps – Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa. It’s one of the most ancient passes through the Western Alps, with sections dating back to the bronze age and it’s the pass Napoleon’s army used in 1800 to enter Italy. Since the completion of the St. Bernard tunnel, the pass is now mainly enjoyed for historical and recreational purposes.
If there’s one thing I took away from our day trip out to Aosta, was the magnitude of the Alps and the magnificence of the views. For me it really brought home the greatness of our world and the wonder of God.
The pictures below are a mixture of iPhone and DSLR images. Most of the Alps images were taken from the front seat of Michelle’s car as we wound around the great St. Bernard pass. My photo’s really don’t do them justice, they truly are breathtaking and I hope you can get a small glimpse of their magnificence.