The Last Output before France
"A Bit of a Disappointment..."
I wanted to go to Aosta because I thought that it would be a place centred on its unique placement in European culture: a French outpost inside Italy where the actual local language was a form of Franco-Provençal. I was rather deluded. Aosta is now a major town in the ski-resort mecca of the western Alps. The streets were crowded with tourists here to see the spectacular mountain scenery and the deserted ski trails. Unlike Urtijëi/Ortisei, there were no bookshops or cultural associations advertising their specialities in the language of the people and the minority culture. Instead, there seemed to only be row after row of cheap trinkets and postcards. Neveretheless, you'd have to be stonehearted not to be moved by the high mountains, the quaint popular houses and the impressive neo-Classical architecture of the official buildings.
"A new perspective"
Of course, my memory is a bit clouded by a friend I met while living in Barcelona, Alex, who was a great swimmer and a student from Aosta (who had studied in Torino). Still, what remains in my minds eye is the spectacular majesty of the Alps against the backdrop of a picturesque Alpine village.