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Aosta
Aoste

Aoûta  (Arpitan)
Città di Aosta
Ville d'Aoste
Aerial view of Aosta
Aerial view of Aosta
Coat of arms of AostaAoste
Coat of arms
Country Italy
Region Aosta Valley
Frazioni Arpuilles, Beauregard, Bibian, Bioulaz, Borgnalle, Brenloz, Busséyaz, Cache, La Combe, Les Capucins, Chabloz, Champailler, Collignon, Cossan, Cotreau, Duvet, Entrebin, Excenex, Les Fourches, Laravoire, Montfleury, Movisod, Pallin, Papet, Pléod, Porossan, La Riondaz, La Rochère, Roppoz, Saraillon, Saumont, Seyssinod, Signayes, Talapé, Tsanté, Tzambarlet, Vignole
Area
 • Total 21.37 km2 (8.25 sq mi)
Elevation
583 m (1,913 ft)
Population
 (30 November 2013)
 • Total 34,800
 • Density 1,628.5/km2 (4,218/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST) UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
11100
Dialing code 0165
Patron saint St. Gratus
Saint day September 7
Arco Augusto Aosta
Arch of Augustus
Porta pretoria Aosta1
Porta Prætoria: The Praetorian Gate, the eastern entrance to the Roman city

Aosta (Italian: Aosta, French: Aoste) is a city in northern Italy. It is the capital city of the Valle d'Aosta (French: Vallée d'Aoste) region. It is roughly in the middle of the region, along the Dora Baltea (French: Doire baltée), the main river that flows in the valley. It is at 583 m above sea level. Around the city there are many mountains (the Alps).

Romans conquered the area in 25 BC. Later, the city was conquered by the Frankish Empire after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Finally, it went under control of the House of Savoy in the 11th century. Many Roman buildings still survive in the city, like the east and south gates. The basic plan of the city, with rectangular blocks of streets, is Roman.

History

The valley of Aosta is a typical alpine valley, cut into a V-shape by glaciers during the ice age. It runs from an upper part near Mont Blanc to lower areas like the city of Aosta.

The area has been Roman, French and Italian (House of Savoy) before the unification of Italy. All street names are in French and Italian, and dialects of French are still spoken by many.

Roman Aosta

The Romans defeated the local Salassi tribe in 25 BC. Their commander, Marcus Terentius Varro, then founded the Roman colony of Augusta Praetoria Salassorum, housing 3,000 retired veterans.

After 11 BC Aosta became the capital of the Alpes Graies ("Grey Alps") province of the Empire.

Significance

Aosta is at the join of two rivers. It is at the end of the Great St Bernard Pass (which leads to Switzerland) and the Little St Bernard Pass (which leads to France). Its position gave it considerable military importance, and the layout of the town was that of a Roman military camp.

The valley was a way for trade and soldiers to get from Italy to Gaul (later, France). This explains its importance to the Romans. Now it sits near the Italian entrance of the Mont Blanc Tunnel.

At present Aosta Valley is a semi-autonomous region in northwestern Italy. It is the smallest region in Italy, and is not divided into provinces.

Aostan

Aostan French (French: français valdôtain) is the variety of French spoken in the Aosta Valley, where many speak some form of French. Some expressions, words and phrase constructions are different from standard French; some are similar to Swiss French. Some words come from the Piedmontese language or Italian. Both modern French and Italian mix with this local patois, valdôtain, which is Franco-Provençal in type.

Roman Theatre Aosta 2
Remains of the Roman theatre

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