Text Carlo Mazzoni
Driving up towards the Alps, the flat land slopes after Ivrea – there you notice the first one, Pavone Castle, elevated, between the Dora river and the lake. Just watch out for a while, and you notice a radiophone that has been working for centuries. Driving on the motorway, you can see the castles which you cannot lose track of: one after the other, they raise towers which in the past transmitted signals at such an unclear speed for us today, but which represented one of the most daring connection services of the history. Aosta Valley, marked by these fortresses, some are huge, other are smaller– it was the duty, the border, the entrance door – of a land that gave birth to a family that would have then become Italy’s Royal house and that today appears so uncertain to respect any heraldry.
Before the wheel, the Mont Blanc. It is clear that many were scared before such a bulk, and looked for an alternative way to a wall measuring four thousand metres. They turned left. La Thuile is a town in a valley that is a passage to France – inhabited since the first millennium. When the chairlift crosses the edge you see a white panettone of sky slopes– while the town remains in the shadow along the torrent and ice.
In this slope of winter shade and of summer chill, a new hotel is the destination of this journey along Aosta castles– the Nira Montana is a matter of details: the scent of wood of the new rooms, the chenille of bathrobes, slippers made of velvet – as long as hair– and books in the halls, like in the rooms, distinguish a place that is able to tell a mountain which marks a passage.
Images courtesy of the hotel
Image cover Castello Savoia, Gressoney, Aosta Valley – Italy