Saturday, 15 December 2012

Gressoney la Trinité-Italy | Alpine Gem Beneath the Majestic Monte Rosa.

Gressoney la Trinité is a fantastic resort of Italy,an Alpine Gem beneath the Majestic Monte Rosa,one of the giants of the Alps,the second peaks of that wonderful entire mountainous chain only behind the iconic Mont Blanc.

Situated in a valley of the same name also called Alta Valle del Lys the High Valley of the river Lys which descends from that superb peak in the beautiful region of Val D´Aosta,the Aosta Valley a marvellous Italian region enclosed within France,Switzerland and Piedmont.

Located approximately at 85,0 kilometres from the capital of the region the city of  Aosta and  103,0 kilometres from the third Italian centre : Turin.Gressoney la Trinité is considered by many people one of the pearls of Val D´Aosta,thanks to its very well preserved natural environment and local architecture,despite the always and constant increasing tourist demand.

The beauty of the valley packed by pines and firs forests is undoubtedly another highlight.Everywhere you look around you can enjoy magnificent landscapes,every corner is a fairytale place and all that under that charming giant called Monte Rosa,which with its 4634,0 metres is just like the Protector of that pleasant land dominating all the valley and the villages scattered in natural magnificent natural corners.

 According the first historical documentations,Gressoney la Trinité was populated since the 11th century by the Alamanni an ancient German ethnic group coming from the valley of the Upper Rhein.As in all the Alpine arch there were often at that time displacements of populations from a valley to another.The former inhabitants were mainly farmers and dedicated to agriculture and pastures with some small trades with the nearest settlements.

In the 13th century,in the Lys Valley was established by the local lords a feudalistic system with some important families governing the land.It was in that period that the local nobles to populate the territory invited the Walser another German population coming from the Bernese Oberland in the current Switzerland.

The Walser replaced in a short time the Alemanni who moved in other territories and they started to create other settlements not only in Val d´Aosta but also in Piedmont in the current Valsesia,a part of the Haute Savoy in France,in Switzerland and also reaching the Principality of Liechtenstein and Austria.
(I wrote a post about Bosco Gurin a Swiss Walser settlement in Switzerland in the case you are interested).

The name Walser is simple it is the denomination of inhabitants of a valley.The Walser,new inhabitants of Gressoney took with them their traditions,culture,folklore.architecture,customs and language.

In medieval era the Walser populating the Lys Valley obtained autonomy and freedom,they could use their own language,to build their typical wooden houses called Stadel generally arranged on two floors and a basement with wooden balconies and those houses in many cases became a trendy inspiration to build some magnificent Alpine chalets.

The history of Gressoney continued very linked to the Duchy of Savoy future Kings of Piedmont and Sardinia and first sovereigns of the new Italy.The name of the town for its sound is a clear French name (Gressoney the Trinity) but it is also called in Walser Greschoney Deitfaltiget and, in German Kressnau Dreitfaltiget due also to the strong Walser and speaking German culture rooted in the valley.

The original name of the town derives from the French word Cresson meaning watercress,that kind of herb which growns up in the land and from that the name Gressoney which changed with local  influence from Cresson to Gresson,while another German version of the name is Kressnau bei den Sachem which means Gressoney next to the roofs.

That centre of Aosta valley for proximity and cultural links also kept strong relationships with the nearest France and Switzerland and furthermore due that Val D´Aosta is a bilingual Region in which Italian and French are official languages.

Those influences have generated that Gressoney la Trinité is historically and culturally a multilingual municipality.Despite its tiny size,people speaks,Italian,French and German or better there is  use of the Titsch the Walser language which is in short a sort of old German language used by the descendants of the first Walser settlers.

Furthermore many people in the area also speaks  the Patois Vâldotain a local language very common in Val D´Aosta,a Romance Occitaine language a sort of old French also spoken in Piedmont and in France in particular in Haute Savoie.

The centre of the resort is arranged along the Regional Road SR 44 on the shore of the river Lys,it is small but with very interesting sites,one of them very recommended to visit is the Walser Museo Etnografico, also called in Walser Titsch Walser Huis Muzeum which is arranged inside a typical Walser rural house with stoned roof and a wooden loggia with traditional details on the facade.

The interior is a representation of traditional house explaining the visitors the utility of the rooms and containing interesting documents and objects about the chronological history and culture of that population and visiting that exhibition is definitely a splendid occasion to know more about a culture rooted in Gressoney many centuries ago.

It will perfectly introduce you in the culture of those inhabitants,displaying utensils,objects,handcrafts,art and decorations.Many wooden items are really authentic masterpieces of art.Walser people for tradition are excellent carvers and engravers in particular on wood.They create several kinds of objects such as simple spoons,ashtrays,containers but also sculptures of animals,different subjects of nature and many other things.

The Walser community is very proud of its heritage and apart to have museums in different towns where that community moved,Gressoney la Trinité has one.If you visit the Alps you will find others in Alagna Valsesia, Bosco Gurin, Triesenberg,Val Formazza and Macugnaga,including in Davos famous Swiss resort (I wrote a post about that famed destination was populated centuries ago by Walser people).

That culture since many centuries ago is very rooted in the municipality and the Walser gave a name in their German Tisch to the valley calling it Kramertal.That name in German language means Valley of Trade or Valley of the Merchants and since long time ago it was an important commerce cross point where traders from the nearest valleys,Switzerland,France and Southern Germany met each other to trade in particular fabric.

 If you are interested to know more about Walser community there is another splendid representation of houses and a museum in Alagna Valsesia in the region of Piedmont on the other side of the Monte Rosa where you will discover many other interesting things.

To keep alive the contacts with the other communities present in different areas of the Alpine valleys,the Walser communities organise festivals and feasts with typical cuisine,handcrafts expositions and other cultural events.The nearest Pourhus is an interesting  Eco Museum called also Casa del Paese,the house of the town.

Next to Museum you can see the Parish Church also called Thedy Hus and it was erected in the early 18th century.It is a typical example of Alpine Religious building with a clear ochre facade with two arched windows of Romanesque inspiration and delimited from the square by a small stoned wall.

The Church consists in a nave,the interior is arranged on a Latin cross plan,the highlights are a splendid Baroque altarpiece and a beautiful lamp forged in gold,silver and copper placed in the centre of the central nave.

Next to the main body of the Sacred building is situated a high bell tower developed on a square plan,it is over 30,0 metres high with a circular white watch while the charming belfry is surmounted by a scenic onion dome.

The beauty of the valley is its unique scenery packed by pines and firs forests which is  undoubtedly another highlight.Everywhere you look around you can enjoy magnificent landscapes,every corner is a fairytale place and all that under that charming giant called Monte Rosa,which with its 4634,0 m is just like the Protector of that pleasant land dominating all the local valley and the several hamlets scattered in magnificent natural corners.
For a relaxing walk in one of the neighbourhoods I suggest Orsia,where you can enjoy  a splendid walk called by many people Giro dell´Anello (ring round) for its circular shape as a ring.It is a pleasant walk along the river Lys admiring the majestic peak of Monte Rosa and its glacier over you.That scenic view is simply fantastic with the surroundings Alpine forests,typical Alpine wooden houses scattered all around and  over you of that giant of the Alps called Mount Rosa as main highlight.

That  prestigious resort today mainly lives about tourism,it is one of the best Winter Sports and holidays all year destination with a long and great tradition about Alpine Ski.

The local family Bieler gave the Italian Alpine Ski National Team excellent champions as Franco and Wanda Bieler who competed in the Alpine Ski World Cup in the 70s including the unforgettable Leonardo David was from Gressoney.

All them started their brilliant ski careers on the slopes of their beloved town.Thanks also the presence of such champions the fame and popularity of Gressoney La Trinité grew up with prestigious Ski Schools and also shops specialised in winter sports increasing furthermore the promotion of that Alpine destination.

The resort also gained an important reputation about National and International competitions very well known also abroad and very appreciated by a multitude of ski lovers due the excellent ski complex and organisation in every aspect,from the preparation of the slopes to the excellent services in terms of incoming,information and accommodations it offers.

Thanks all that Gressoney La Trinité is today an important destination for many ski lovers who appreciate its excellent global quality of facilities and outstanding accommodations.

The resort offers all Ski lovers over 220,0 km of slopes and the proximity of Valsesia,Ayas Valley and other famous resorts as Champoluc and Brusson are undoubtedly a great incentive if you love skiing and changing place and slopes in a very short time.

The local slopes are very challenging and techniques particularly suitable to enjoy very good slaloms. Monterosa Ski Complex which includes apart Gressoney La Trinité also Alagna, Brusson, Champorcher (I wrote a post about that other splendid place) and Champoluc.

All that forms a modern network providing 44 ski lift including funiculars and chairlifts (11 are in Gressoney La Trinité) with among them the ascent to the Lake Gabiet,Punta Indren and Punta Jolanda spectacular places to visit also in summer.

Monte Rosa Ski area is simply fantastic for the organisation of its slopes,there is the opportunity for all people to start to ski with easy blue tracks,very interesting red slopes for people with an intermediate level who wants to improve their capacity and some slopes for authentic experts with high coefficient of difficulties.

Excellent is also the service of snow machines with over 400 placed all around the slopes serving the tracks always with fresh snow which is immediately prepared on the tracks in the best way.

There are many red slopes (26) apart the several blue tracks and,including three Black slopes which are suitable for masters and experienced skiers such as Mos,Jolanda 1 and Nera very challenging with c great curves and steep straights with high gradients.The longer slope is Pistone Betta a red slope of over 5,500 metres of longitude.

Other interesting and very good red tracks are the Jolanda,Alpe Ricka,Salati 1 that last one is over 4,600 metres long) and the Ski Weg Marmotte.

All those tracks are very suitable for intermediate skiers with some points pretty steep and others with less gradient. There are also splendid areas for children as the Baby snow Park Stafal and another one called Baby Snow Park Colletesand,both great places where adults can enjoy pleasant days with their children having fun on the snow.

Another important aspect is the local inhabitants,very friendly and genuine people every time ready to welcome the visitors,there is a high sense of hospitality.All that is,of course another incentive to choose that resort as special destination when you feel around you a pleasant atmosphere.

Apart Alpine Ski,Gressoney La Trinitè also offers the chance to enjoy freestyle and snowboard with its Snowboard Park considered one of the best in all the Val D´Aosta.The Snowboard Cross another trendy activity always more loved by many people is practised on the slopes of Bettaforca area and it is certainly another emblematic symbol of the resort.

The town is not only Alpine Ski and Winter Sports and the resort offers a multitude of opportunities to enjoy several other outdoor activities all year such as trekking,hiking,climbing,many unforgettable excursions,the chance to practise cycling on road,mountain bike apart the presence a relevant historic and natural patrimony.

A splendid excursion to enjoy in the surrounding of the resort is that one to the Lake Gabiet,a magnificent Alpine waters basin surrounded by towering peaks situated at 2371,0 metres of altitude.There is a path from Gressoney and also a funicular service transporting the visitors to admire that wonderful lake,a blue paradise of waters located in a picturesque scenery.

Punta Jolanda is another fantastic place,it is a stupendous Alpine headland at 2100,0 metres of altitude,a very special site and ideal point to admire from the summit all the Lys Valley.

Fantastic is also the excursion leading to Capanna Gnifetti, a spectacular site with a hut refuge under the Monte Rosa glacier at 3647,0 metres of altitude and also splendid is another one leading to Rifugio Gastaldi at 2358,0 metres just like another one reaching the Rifugio Quintino Sella at 3555,0 metres of altitude.

The nearest Val D´Ayas is another recommended place to visit so rich of wild landscapes,majestic mountains and beautiful pine forests and learning fantastic trails leading to admire the Rothorn,the Testa Grigia,Chasten and Mont Nery all giant of the Alps and the list is very long.

The gastronomy of Gressoney and of the Region Val D´Aosta is really delicious.That Alpine Italian land took a wide variety of influences from the nearest Piedmont,France and Switzerland.The typical plates are the famous Fondue Valdotaine prepared with cheese Fontina,pepper,eggs,butter,flour and milk,served hot and accompanied by Crostini bread.The Polenta Valdostana is another great speciality consisting in polenta covered by melted Fontina cheese and some butter.

A local product very appreciated is the delicious Dzambon a local ham prepared with salt,garlic,pepper, rosemary,sage,laurel,thyme and jumiper.It is often present in starters,but also in snack on toasted bread or in slices as appetisers just like the Boudin a local pork sausage flavoured by spices,it can be served as appetiser but also baked or boiled. The Motsetta is a sort of chamois ham flavoured by herbs,laurel, garlic,sage and rosemary,it is a product pretty salted and rich of flavour.

A very energetic plate is certainly the Zuppa Valdostana,it is a soup consisting in bread,meat stock,Fontina and Toma traditional cheeses of the region ,butter and salt.French influence is present with the traditional Carbonade Valdotaine very similar to the famous French Carbonade.

The preparation of that kind of plate is very similar to that one made on the other side of the Alps using with the beef meat,salted lard,cinnamon,garlic,cinnamon,cloves,eggs,flour,pepper and adding during the preparation red wine.

The Cotoletta alla Valdostana, is veal cutlet fried with butter,eggs and with veal meat is also prepared the traditional Fricandeau which consists in cubes of meat cooked with salt,onion,rosemary adding white wine,it can be accompanied by vegetables or including combined with polenta.

The influence of the nearest France is present in many specialities also in Val D´Aosta there is an ample preparation of Crepes very similar to the French.Crepe a la Valdotainne are generally prepared with fontina cheese and ham and there is also a local Tariflette prepared with local cheeses.

Also fish is present in the local gastronomy.The delicious Truit avec Beurre is baked trout with salt and butter while the Truit au Blau is that kind of fish boiled,flavoured with olive oil,herbs,lemon and it can be accompanied by salads or potatoes.

The Chiechené are a sort sort of frittellle very popular and the local forest are rich of a lot of  blueberries,blackberries and wild berries,often used for homemade cakes too.The Torcetti and Tegole are homemade biscuits really tastefully and there are other desserts very common and pretty close to the Savoy traditions as Blanc-Manger and very traditional is the Flantse a kind of bread which in its preparation has butter,walnuts,nuts,raisins and fruit.

About cheeses,Aosta Valley is a paradise, the popular Fontina the Toma of Gressoney is a typical cheese of the area of high quality,a kind of product which can be also used for starters,appetisers and snacks but also very good combined with other ingredients or melted  in other plates such as the Polenta,the Fondue or present in a cheese sauce combined on a Risotto or in a  Pasta too.

There is a great choice of fine wines in the Region,excellent Pinot Noir and Gris  but also many others such as Chardonnay,Nus,Torrette,Donnas,Fumin,Riesling,Chambave among others.

The region apart Alps has a vast territory occupied by hills ideal places to cultivate excellent robust grapes.The land has very mild springs and summers and  autumn is not too cold.In those hilly territories there is a sort of micro climate which permits a relevant harvest.

Very appreciated are smooth red wines with a great texture and pure colour,fine and classy white wines,including superb sweet as a local Moscato.All them give the visitor the chance to taste a wide variety of selected wines with an ample choice,very versatile,there are some absolutely perfect to combine to red and white meats,fish and seafood and including for cooking.

Other typical drinks in Val D´Aosta are the famous liquor Genepy which is a traditional herbs spirit very popular also in the French Haute Savoie and the Grampapole considered a social drink consisting in Grappa mixed with honey.

Turin Caselle International Airport is situated at a distance of 113,0 kilometres and in less of two hours in normal conditions of traffic you can reach the resort driving along the A5 Motorway until the town Pont Saint Martin and from there taking the Regional Road SR 44 via Gaby you will reach the resort in a very comfortable way.

Gressoney la Trinité is a fantastic place to enjoy holidays all year,a great destination for all,a magnificent place beneath the charming silhouette of the superb and majestic Monte Rosa,something unique,simply the view of that giant over you will be an unforgettable sensation to remember for ever.

Francesco Mari

Recommended Hotels in Gressoney La Trinité

Hotel De Gletscher
Hotel Romantik Jolanda Sport
Residence Obereil
Hotel Ellex
Hotel Lo Scoiattolo
Hotel Nordend
Hotel Dufour

Recommended Restaurants in Gressoney La Trinité

Ristorante Oberteil
Ristorante Capanna Carla
Ristorante Punta Jolanda
Ristorante Anderbatt