Reminder to our lady members: If you are interested in attending the luncheon series, please contact Chris Nechvatal at 480-883-9262. We continue with our series on the various regions (states) in Italy today. This month, we will examine the region of the Aosta Valley:
This Region, with an area of 1260 square miles and a population of about 128,000, is the smallest and least populous in all of Italy. This region is divided into 74 communes (commune). Italian and French are the official languages; however, much of the native population also speaks Valdotain, a dialect of Arpitan (Franco-Provencal), as their home language. About half of the population is able to speak all three languages. The regional capital is Aosta.
The Aosta Valley is a valley in the Alps surrounded by the slopes of Mont Blanc, Mont Rosa, Gran Paradiso and the Matterhorn. This makes the region the highest area of Italy. Due to its elevation, the Valley has a long snow season that lasts eight to nine months per year. Temperatures range from 17 degrees F in January to 68 degrees F in July.
The first inhabitants of this area were the Celts and Ligures. Romans conquered the area in 25 B.C. They went on to build roads and bridges in this alpine region. The name Valle d’Aosta literally means in Roman the Valley of Augustus. The region was controlled, after the fall of the Roman Empire, by a number of French and Italian families until the reunification of Italy in 1871.
As mentioned earlier, the Aosta Valley has two official languages today, Italian and French. Italian is more widely spoken in everyday life throughout the region. There are numerous medieval castles and fortified homes throughout the countryside. The cuisine is characterized by simplicity with robust ingredients such as potatoes, polenta, cheese and meat. Many dishes include Fontina, a cheese made from cows’ milk. Regional special dishes besides Fontina are Motzetta, dried chamois meat, prepared like prosciutto; Vallee d’Aoste Lard d’Arnad, a cured and brined fatback product and Vallee d’Aoste Jambon de Bosses, a kind of ham with black bread.