Sarre Saint-Pierre Villeneuve

From castle to castle in the realm of His Majesty the Torrette

The route passes through one of the most viticulturally important areas in the region, where the excellent exposure of the slope has made it possible to grow a wide range of varieties , from early to late varieties. But it is especially the area of the Petit Rouge vine, which, because of its excellent ability to adapt to cold temperatures and drought, characterizes almost the entire area. And the main red wine that is produced in this area is Torrette , the most popular wine in the Aosta Valley, named after Mont Torrette, next to which we will pass with the route. But along the route, we will see some of the oldest and best-known castles in the region, a sign of the strategic importance of the road from Aosta to the Petit St. Bernard Pass. Our itinerary, mostly on a little-used asphalt road, starts from the public gardens of Sarre near the now-disused railway station along the Aosta – Prè Saint Didier line and begins in an easterly direction until we reach Villa Bal, a beautiful building from the first half of the 20th century, with a long boundary wall incorporating distinctive pillars, here we will turn left. The steepest part of our route begins only about a hundred meters, but a real “wall” that will test both the legs for those who face the route with a muscle bike and the battery for those who, more “easily,” face it with an e-bike. When you reach the top of the climb, you turn left and begin a long stretch on asphalt close to traffic, with minimal gradient, heading west. You arrive at the hamlet of Rovines; from above, we see the castle of Sarre , which existed as early as the 13th century, but the present building is the 18th and especially 19th-century makeover when purchased by the Savoy family; it became the base for royal hunts in what was to become the Gran Paradiso National Park. And just toward the valleys of the Gran Paradiso, our gaze widens before us with, in the background, the northern slope of the arduousGrivolaBella, so-called by the poet Carducci, which at 3969 meters is the highest mountain we will see along our route. In a short time, we reach Breyan, on our left, Mount Torrette, just 886 meters but with a very particular landscape, combining historic terraces of vineyards bordered by traditional dry-stone walls with vegetative patches of Downy Oak, Ash, and Scots Pine. We are at the highest point of our route; from here, the descent towards Saint-Pierre begins. Having passed the hamlet of Croix, we arrive at Etavel, and from here, taking the road to the left, the most Disney-likeof the Aosta Valley castles appears to us, the very ancient castle of Saint-Pierre , already mentioned in the 13th century but which in the second half of the 19th century took on that original character that sets it apart today. According to typical Romantic canons, four circular-shaped turrets were added to the corners of the central tower. The castle, which now houses the renovated natural science museum, and the parish church below, with its striking Romanesque bell tower, are among the region’s most photographed places. That we are in one of the most densely populated areas of vineyards and producers is intuited by numerous producers with outlets where their products can be tasted and purchased, from la Source to Chateau Feuillet , from Di Barrò to le Grain and Maison Anselmet . A short passage on the regional road to Saint-Nicolas and through the hamlets of La Crete and Veyne of Villeneuve , we reach Highway 26, and from here, crossing the Dora Baltea, we reach the chief town. From the parking lot, we descend along the beautiful river park , a large green area overlooking the Dora Baltea at the end of which begins a “walk” along the Savara stream with several shaded areas and comfortable benches for those who wish to take a short break, even though our route is almost coming to an end. On the other hand, for those who would like, after the ride, to do some more exercise, here is a nice life trail with six degrees of difficulty. After finishing the life trail, the modern and characteristic wooden bridge allows us to cross the Savara stream and reach the municipal sports center. From here, we return toward the center of Villeneuve and are in the area of the Barmè, natural hollows formed as a result of collapses of the rock face upstream of the village of Villeneuve, which have been cleverly transformed into cellars to store wine and other foodstuffs. The special natural condition of the barmé ensures a constant temperature throughout the year. Normally the Barmé is opened on the occasion of the “Fiha di Barmé,” August 16. And we pass under the ruins of Chatel Argent , the cylindrical tower surrounded by thick walls built to defend the village of Villeneuve in the 13th century. A short distance away is the ancient church of Villeneuve , the oldest part of which dates back to the 5th century. In a few minutes, you reach the Chavonne sports area , a green lung for those who appreciate the tranquility offered by the colors of nature, with a large picnic area and a pond for sports fishing. From Chavonne, we cross the Dora Baltea River again to return to Saint-Pierre. After passing by the Cofruits , an apple harvesting and storage center to which local growers deliver their harvests and where one can purchase other typical Aosta Valley products. We end our route in the parking lot of Sarriod de la Tour Castle with its marvelous “hall of heads,” a precious wooden ceiling from the late 1400s decorated with anthropomorphic figures, monsters, insects, and animals (closed for restoration until fall 2023).

The trail is for mountain bikes

Trail length: 11.9 km

Maximum elevation gain: 363 meters

Minimum height: 621 meters

Maximum height: 836 meters

Agritourism refreshments:

La Source

Bike rentals (Aosta and Gressan):

  1. HeroEbike
  2. The Place Aosta
  3. Cicli Lucchini
  4. La bicicletteria di Delfo
  5. Swit Shop
  6. Atelier Boldrini
  7. Aosta Bike Center