A succession of hills and valleys, rivers, streams, lakes, forests and even curtains of grey stone walls and towers standing on the ridges, against the mountain sun, to evoke ancient warlike geometries, yet calm and reassuring in their secular presence.
    Impressive Roman ruins give way to bursts of rich iconography, in jewels of carved wood and stone that become a constant element of tradition.
    Walking for icy slopes in a fresh and thin wind, lost in silence and light, contemplating the view of huge mountains and sharply delineated by clear skies and intense blue.
    The fountains of bubbling and cool water are disseminated for open spaces where you can stop and contemplate the meaning of harmonious beauty of the whole.
    the ancient buildings maintain intact the charm of past ages, locked in their discretion simple and profound.
    The wealth of greenery and of beautifully preserved castles involves the look in a perfect route between the mountain profiles, to send messages to the spirits of other times that, peak to peak, still seem to communicate, with their secret language, a sense of austere solemnity and of eternity.

A look on the Valley
Gressoney Saint Jean (AO) - Lake Gover with Monte Rosa in the background

Castle of Fenis

    The existence of the castle is documented from the 13th century, when presumably it only showed the circular dovecote tower and the square tower, a residential building and a simple outer wall.
    Aimone Challant in the 14th century, transformed the castle into an ambitious architectural complex with many towers, with a central residential pentagonal body and a outer walls.
    A new set of development was then started by the son of Aimone, Bonifacio I, former inspector of fortifications of the Savoy, who adapted the building to the new demands of courtly life.
    An align among the plans of the central body was made, and a new plan was derived from the attic.
    The additions and alterations gave a greater appearance of residence of representation, setting the current look of the courtyard, with two floors of galleries in wood and a grand semi-circular staircase of stone.
    This was the heyday of the castle, when also were added the precious frescoes of the courtyard and of the chapel, attributed to James Jaquerio, master of the international Gothic style, in the first half of the fifteenth century.
    In particular, a S. George slaying the dragon stands over the staircase, while along the balconies there is a series of images of sages and prophets in the act of uncoiling some parchments with moral judgments in Old French.
    In the chapel, the frescoes of the Crucifixion and the Madonna of Mercy, at whose feet are represented two groups of believers, lay and religious, among which you can recognize different figures of the time, as the Pope and the Emperor, and some members of the lord's family.
    The castle belonged to Challant until the early eighteenth century, then followed a period of neglect in which it was transformed even in a farm, using the ground floor rooms as stables and the first floor as a barn.
    Acquired in 1895 by Alfredo d'Andrade, it was eventually largely restored, reaching today's appearance.
    It became property of the Regional Administration, now houses the Museum of Valdostan Mobile, with fine furnishings of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, distributed to various rooms in order to restore the atmosphere of the castle suggestively to its origin of aristocratic house.

Castle of Issogne

    The existence of a fortified residence at Issogne, built on the site of a presumed Roman villa, is documented by a papal bull of 1151.
    The building was in fact the seat of the bishop of Aosta until 1379, when he was traded to Challant, who began the renovation, transforming it into an elegant residence late Gothic, with a series of towers and buildings with defensive walls .
    However, at the end of the fifteenth century are dated the works that gave the castle a unitary character, as well as most of the decoration, by the construction of connecting elements between the various parties, with the main body consisting of a three-storey building, connected by a stone spiral staircase, with two wings forming the boundaries of a large courtyard, where is located the famous fountain of pomegranate.
    Probably made for the wedding of Filiberto Challant in 1502, the fountain has an octagonal stone basin with a central shaft of wrought iron with oak leaves, symbolizing strength, and fruits of pomegranate, a symbol of fertility .
    The walls facing the courtyard are decorated with heraldic symbols in celebration of the house and the porch that opens has a geometric decoration on cruises, with frescoed lunettes in popular subjects, portraying vivacious scenes of daily life and activities of shopkeepers and handcrafts, probably to emphasize peace and prosperity under the good governance of the Lordship.
    By the same author, who signed off as "Magister Collinus", are the frescoes in the chapel on the first floor and the doors of the triptych altar, with scenes of the Nativity, the prophets, the apostles and doctors of the Church.
    On the ground floor is the Justice Hall, main room of the castle, with a mock porch supported by columns of marble, alabaster and crystal and painted with scenes of hunting and courtly life and northern landscapes of Franco-Flemish school.
    Among the rooms on the upper floors, particularly interesting are those of the Countess, with the oratory adorned with paintings, of Count Renato, of George of Challant, called the Knights of St. Maurice by the crosses of the Order that decorate the ceiling, and the Hall of the King of France, so called because Charles VIII maybe was hosted here during its passage in Italy in 1494, and in fact there is a fireplace decorated with the insignia of golden lilies, and the slogan "Vive le Roi".
    Other interesting environments, in the oldest part of the building, are the Chamber of the Tower and the Emperor's room, where perhaps stayed Sigismund of Luxembourg, in 1414.
    The current setting of the castle is due to the painter Vittorio Avondo who bought it in 1872, making a meticulous restore and recovering part of the old furniture, or reintegrating it with other pieces in style.
    The monument was then given to the Italian State and is now owned by the Region of Valle d'Aosta.

Castles of Fenis and Issogne
The Fort of Bard (AO)
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