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Editor's Note: Writing for virtualitalia.com is most fun when I hear from readers with stories to tell. Matteo Scaiola, a university student living in Milan, wrote an enthusiastic E-mail describing what he loved about Valle d'Aosta, where he's vacationed since he was eight years old. What follows is a condensed version of his message.
Despite Valle d'Aosta's small size, you never run out of things to do. Though winter offers the widest variety of activities, visitors can enjoy themselves year-round.
Courmayeur, at the foot of Monte Bianco, wins his vote for the region's most charming city. Indeed, he says, "it's a meeting place for the jet set."
"I suggest crossing Monte Bianco from Courmayeur to Chamonix in France. Wow! One of the most gorgeous views I have ever seen," he exclaims. Monte Bianco, the highest mountain in Europe, and its surrounding glaciers provide an unforgettable sight, no matter how often you see it.
Basking in the shadow of Monte Rosa sits Champoluc, another fine site for skiing. Should you wish to test the snow in France, head to nearby La Thuile. Where else can you ski in three different countries from one location?
"I think that there are more or less 10 castles from the Middle Ages to visit, one more beautiful than the next," he writes.
Skiing isn't out of the question, even in summer. "In Breuil-Cervinia, you can see all the Alps, if the day is clear, and if you are even luckier you can see the Ligurian Sea. In the summer, the sun is in the sky for about 14 hours." The extended daylight allows for more spectacular views as well as more time to enjoy them.
The rain has a different quality in this season. It's quieter, heavier, and seems to introduce the cold weather gradually. Spring rain, on the other hand, has a more vibrant, fresh feeling about it.
"You can find good restaurants everywhere," Matteo promises. Fontina cheese and mocetta, a dry meat, represent typical fare in the region, though other wild meat (steenbok, rabbit, and chamois) is also fairly common.
Valle d'Aosta boasts wineries of the highest altitude in Europe, claims Matteo. Excellent wine can be found in Morgex. And after all that skiing, a good bottle of wine might be just the thing.
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