ITALY'S CUISINE - This is how delicious the Aosta Valley eats

Lots of meat, lots of cheese, cabbage and turnips - pizza and pasta don't really exist here. This mountainous region in the north is a paradise for hearty food. Our series: This is how delicious Italy eats. Today: the Aosta Valley.

gourmet series

There is no such thing as one Italian cuisine. Italy has 20 regions - and each region has its own specialities (read more). We taste them all. Nice and bite-sized and in small bites. We start in the region that has nothing to do with pizza and pasta. In the mountains, it's hearty. Today:

aosta valley Welcome to Valle d'Aosta

Idyll with mountains: Lago Blu in the Aosta Valley
Photo: Manuel Vinuesa/Getty Images via
romans in the aosta valley
The Roman Theatre in Aosta/Aoste
Photo: Flourio Vallenari/Getty Images Signature via

A little round of local history...

The Valle d'Aosta is located in the mountains in north-western Italy, on the border with France to the west and French-speaking Switzerland to the north. To the south and east, the valley borders the Italian region of Piedmont. The official languages are Italian and French. Except for the capital of the region Aosta/Aoste, all municipalities have French names.

The Aosta Valley is located in the northwest of Italy (click on the button if the map is not displayed)

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The area is the smallest region in Italy ("regions" are similar to federal states, more here). Only about 125,000 people live on a good 3,200 km². It is bordered by Mont Blanc in the west and Monte Rosa in the north.

A small corner on the border with France, up in the mountains in the northwest - with culinary implications for the whole country. There are 16 starred restaurants in the small area alone.

No other region has a comparable star-local density. There is one gourmet temple for every 7,800 locals. For comparison: In Lombardy, one star restaurant has 29,500 people.

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Mountain Worlds: This is how the Aosta Valley eats

The traditional cuisine of the Valle d'Aosta is strong and hearty. A peasant cuisine, shaped by life in the Alps.

For centuries, the mountains determined what went on the table - and that was locally grown produce: Typical meals to this day are made of cereals, (black) bread, cabbage, savoy cabbage, cheese, bacon and chestnuts. Due to the high altitude, tomatoes and olives played no role for lack of cultivation possibilities.

The region is famous for its cheeses. Fondue made from Fontina, the star among the local cheeses, is widespread here.

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From trattoria to pizzeria: Italy's restaurant types...

Export hit from the Aosta Valley

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What a beautiful nature...
Photo: Arsty/Getty Images via

The designation DOP means "Denominazione d'Origine Protetta", the Italian seal for products with a protected designation of origin.

...Cheese & Butter

  • Beuro de brossa: a particularly creamy butter with mountain meadow aroma. The butter is made with Brossa, a fatty substance from cheese processing.
  • Fontina DOP: a semi-cooked cow's milk cheese that has been made since the 13th century. The cheese is salted and brushed in a rock for three months, at a humidity of up to 90 per cent.

eating in the aosta valley, series
The Fontina matures in a rock room
Photo: Orietta Gaspari/Getty Images Signature via
  • Fromadzo DOP: a semi-hard semi-hard cheese made from skimmed cow's milk, known since ancient times, first mentioned in writing in the 15th century. The milk comes from two milkings, sometimes goat's milk or herbs are added.
  • Saras or Seirass del fen: a spicy ricotta that has been produced since the 13th century - once a delicacy for the nobility. The special feature: the long maturing in hay. In the past, the ricotta was transported to the valley from shelter in the hay, which gave it its special taste. The ricotta tastes pleasantly sour and spicy.

...Meat & Sausage 

starters-aosta valley
Very generous: an appetiser plate à la Aosta Valley
Screenshot: Instagram/@nacko_milano

  • Boudin: a blood sausage made from potatoes, diced bacon, beetroot, beef and pork blood, herbs and spices. For a long time a staple food in the mountains. Eaten hot and cold.
  • Jambon de Bosses DOP: a raw ham with the aromas of mountain herbs, produced exclusively in the commune of Saint-Rhémy-en-Bosses at 1,600 metres. It must be matured for at least one year.
  • Motzetta: Air-dried sausage made from beef, chamois, venison or wild boar. Pickled in herbal salt for 20 days, then dried for one to three months. This is a time-honoured method of preserving meat for a long time. Sliced wafer-thin, it becomes a tender morsel. Also spelled mocetta or motsetta.

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On the last weekend in August, the Arnad municipality holds its annual Pig Bacon Festival

  • Lardo d'Arnad DOP: matured pork bacon produced exclusively in the municipality of Arnad in the lower Aosta Valley. The bacon pieces are cured in a brine flavoured with juniper, bay leaf, nutmeg, sage and rosemary - for more than two centuries in wooden tubs made of chestnut, oak or larch.
Wafer-thin bacon rolls that melt in your mouth
Screenshot: Instagram/@cuori1strada

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  • Genepy: a LiqueurIt is obtained from the alpine herb Genepy (lat. Artemisia) or Wehrmut, with a yellow-green colour and an intense plant scent. The taste is warming and slightly bitter.
  • GrappaA pomace spirit (at least 37.5 percent). It is distilled from the fermented alcoholic press residues of wine production, the pomace.

...from nature

  • on offer: chestnut honey, dandelion honey, lime honey, mountain blossom honey or honeydew honey
  • Apples (Renette or Golden Delicious), pears, nuts, mushrooms and chestnuts

...baked goods

biscuits aosta valley
The biscuits are also available in various dessert versions
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  • Shingles (Tegole): Biscuits made from hazelnuts, sugar, egg whites, flour, sometimes with almonds or vanilla.
  • Miasse: savoury rectangular waffles filled with cheese (salignön)

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Meal time! Dishes in Valle d'Aosta

You can feast - restraint and counting calories won't get you far in the mountains of the Aosta Valley.

This stew has bang!

The "Seupa à la Vapelenentse", the "Valpellinoise soup" gave the poor mountain people the energy they needed for their hard work. The stew consists of fontina cheese, dried bread, savoy cabbage, meat broth, butter and cinnamon.

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Oha! The perfect meal for really cold winter days
Screenshot: Instagram/@3cuori1strada

Every year, on the last weekend of July, the municipality of Valpellile celebrates its soup with a festival, the Sagra della Seupa à la Vapelenentse.


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This is what the soup festival in the north of Italy looks like...

"Lardo di Arnad" bacon with chestnuts and honey, served with polenta

Crespelle Erbette Boudin

  • Pancakes with herbs, black pudding, puff pastry, goat cheese, pear, nuts and chestnut honey


  • Casserole with potatoes, Reblochon cheese, bacon cubes and onions

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Also on the menu in Valle d'Aosta

...Frittata di Ortiche (Nettle omelette), Cotoletta alla Valdostana (veal cutlet breaded with fontina cheese, usually served with polenta), Crespelle alla Valdostana (savoury pancakes with fontina cheese and ham), Fricandeau (Veal stew with onions, rosemary, herbs and white wine served with polenta), Carbonada (12 days, classic in white wine, braised beef with bacon, cloves and nutmeg).

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The most unusual speciality: cow udders

Teuteun valdostane: cured cow's udder - an aboslute speciality of the Valle d'Aosta and in the list of the Prodotto Agroalimentare Tradizionale (P.A.T.), the traditional Italian food, of the Italian Ministry of Agriculture.

Whoever is shaking now: Even the Romans considered cow udders (blanched or grilled) a delicacy. In the Aosta Valley, cattle breeding has a long tradition, and almost everything is traditionally used in the mountains. In Gignod in the Aosta Valley, the Fëta di Teteun, a festival in honour of the udder, is celebrated every year in August.

Ever tried it - cow's udders are a speciality in Valle d'Aosta
Photo: Image: Teteun Affettato // F CeragioliCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Finished teteun has the shape of a pressed, cream-coloured loaf. The taste is salty and spicy. Fans praise the unusual texture. Teteun is often eaten as an appetiser, with garlic sauces, various jams or with sultanas or pears in syrup.

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The wines from the mountains

Summers in the Aosta Valley are usually short, the slopes steep - a harsh mountain climate. The vast majority of wines from the region are of good quality, but not top wines. Nevertheless, the region has a lot to offer in terms of wine - both white and red.

Around 4,000 winegrowers cultivate grapes on 450 hectares. There are more than 20 local grape varieties that are hardly known outside the Aosta Valley.

There is only one designation of origin for all wines: the DOC Valle d'Aosta.

Wines of the Valle d'AostaBlanc de Morgex et de La Salle DOC, Enfer d'Arvier DOC, Torrette DOC, Nus e Nus Malvoisie DOC, Chambave e Chambave Moscato (o Chambave Muscat) DOC, Arnad-Montjovet DOC.

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Tasting and shopping on site of all directly on site in the cheese dairy or at the winery. Even small shops usually have a good selection of specialities. Local markets are also extremely appetising, where you can buy fresh produce directly from the producers.

In terms of restaurants, you can eat in the Aosta Valley from super cheap to really, really expensive in a star restaurant. Definitely try an agriturismo (a farm with restaurant and/or accommodation). You can also buy many products there.

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Here you can sleep in the Aosta Valley...
...and here are some more practical links for your holiday planning
woman jumping wearing green backpack
Photo by Sebastian Voortman on

>>> Next time: This is how delicious Sicily eats - what makes Italy's island cuisine extraordinary

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