Aosta Valley, Italy

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Interactive Map of Aosta Valley, Italy

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Aosta Valley, Italy is a small region located in the northwestern corner of Italy. This region is completely inland with no coastline. The region is extremely mountainous and covers a relatively small area of Italy at only 1,268 square miles. The Aosta Valley region has a population of approximately 128,000, making it the smallest populated region in Italy. 

Cities as Seen on a Map of Aosta Valley, Italy:

  • Aosta
  • Pila
  • Pont Saint Martin
  • Cogne
  • Courmayeur
  • La Thuile
  • Cervinia
  • Chamonix

Quick Facts About Aosta Valley Italy:

  • Population = 128,000
  • Languages = Italian, French (Aostan French dialect), and German (Walser dialect)
  • Ethnicities = Italian (Roman subgroup) and French (Arpitania, Burgundy subgroup)
  • Capital = Aosta

The History of Aosta Valley

The original inhabitants of the area were Celtic and Ligurian tribes. In 25 BC, the Roman Empire took control of the area and gave it the name Valle d’Aosta, which means “Valley of Augustus.” Roman Emporer Augustus noticed this mountainous region and created a strategic barrier that he could use to his advantage; therefore, he created the Augusta Prætoria Salassorum, which is known as modern-day Aosta.

In 1536, Aosta adopted French as its official language, and the First French Empire ruled it between 1800 and 1814 during the Napoleonic era. By the 1860s, Aosta had become part of the Kingdom of Sardinia and was officially unified with the Kingdom of Italy. 

During World War II, Italy had become part of the Axis powers, joining forces with Germany and Japan. Italy had an active role in World War II, as many battles and invasions took place throughout the territory. In 1945, the Second Battle of the Alps, which was the last battle of the Italian Campaign, took place in the Aosta Valley region. 

Leading up the battle, French general Charles de Gaulle had been planning an attack against Italy for their invasion of southern France in 1940. General de Gaulle gathered soldiers and sent them to the Franco-Italian border near Aosta. French spies were sent to the area to spread French propaganda to persuade the Italians into joining France. The majority of Italians did not want to join France, so they resisted the movement.


Italian is the primary language of the Aosta Valley, but French is a close second. Not only is this because the Aosta Valley region borders France today, but this is also because of the presence that France had in northern Italy in the 16th century and forward. English is rarely spoken in Aosta. 


The Aosta Valley region was controlled by the Roman Empire until its fall in 476. The Roman Empire believed in Christianity by practicing Roman Catholicism, which is the primary religion in the Aosta Valley and the surrounding regions still today. 


Aosta Valley, Italy is the most mountainous region in all of Italy. It is named Aosta Valley because it is surrounded by the tall peaks of the Alpine mountain range. The Aosta Valley region offers a variety of cross-country skiing throughout some of the most iconic summits and ski areas, such as the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc. 

Before the Aosta Valley turned into ski areas and a ski resort, the mountains and these popular destinations were used as a strategy for war, defense, and navigation. During the rule of the Roman Empire, the Aosta Valley was chosen because Roman Emperor, Augustus, noticed that the mountains would provide a barrier between neighboring territories; therefore, he set up the Valle d’Aosta in this region. 

The Aosta Valley is the coldest region in Italy because of its high elevation. It is not uncommon for snow to cover the Italian Alps in the mountains of the Aosta Valley for nine months out of the year. 


Out of all of the regions of Italy, the Aosta Valley region is the one with the most influences from France. French was adopted as the primary language of the Aosta Valley region in 1536. Today, both Italian and French are spoken in the region, with French being taught in schools in addition to Italian.

Beginning in the 11th century, castles and fortresses were constructed throughout the region, making the region home to some of the most iconic medieval structures in Italian history. These castles and fortresses are a symbol of how the Aosta Valley was used as a territory for protection and defense during war for centuries. 

Migration Patterns

Migration to the Aosta Valley has always been minimal because of the extremely cold climate that encompasses the region. When the Roman Empire acquired the region, they did so with the idea of protection, defense, and strategy in mind. When Aosta Valley became part of the Kingdom of Italy, emigrants began to leave the area. 

The Industrial Revolution in North America saw many opportunities for Italians to leave their country and find reliable work. Because Aosta Valley, Italy has the lowest population of all the regions of Italy, emigration numbers are lower in this area than the rest; however, emigrants leaving the region of Aosta Valley contributed to the total near 13 million Italians who migrated to the western hemisphere or other European countries. The main locations that Aosta emigrants fled to were Switzerland and France. 

As tourism has grown, migration patterns to Aosta Valley, Italy have shifted. The Aosta Valley region has become a travel destination for tourists which has brought an incline to young immigrants seeking employment in a tourist town. 


Genealogy in Aosta Valley, Italy includes French, Swiss, Roman, German, and Austrian, with the predominant lineage being French. During the 1860s, emigrants who left Aosta Valley traveled to the neighboring countries of France and Switzerland, expanding the genealogy of this region to those countries. 

Today, it would not be uncommon for someone from France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, or the United States to have lineage traced back to the Aosta Valley region of Italy.

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Caleb Pike
About the author

Caleb Pike is an avid hiker and nature lover, with a passion for exploring the great outdoors. He's a writer, photographer, and adventurer, always seeking new trails to blaze and peaks to conquer.