The Aosta Valley (Italian: Valle d’Aosta (official) or Val d’Aosta (usual) is a mountainous semi-autonomous region in northwestern Italy. It is bordered by Rhône-Alpes, France to the west, Valais, Switzerland to the north and the region of Piedmont to the south and east.
Covering an area of 3,263 km2 (1,260 sq mi) and with a population of about 128,000 it is the smallest, least populous, and least densely populated region of Italy. It is the only Italian region that has no provinces (the province of Aosta was dissolved in 1945). Provincial administrative functions are provided by the regional government. The region is divided into 74 comuni (communes).
Italian and French are the official languages, though much of the native population also speak Valdôtain, a dialect of Arpitan, as their home language; about half of the population can speak all three languages.
The regional capital is Aosta. The cuisine of Aosta Valley is characterized by simplicity and revolves around “robust” ingredients such as potatoes, polenta; cheese and meat; and rye bread. Many of the dishes involve Fontina, a cheese with PDO status, made from cow’s milk that originates from the valley. It is found in dishes such as the soup à la vâpeuleunèntse (Valpelline Soup). Other cheeses made in the region are Toma and Seras. Fromadzo (Valdôtain for cheese) has been produced locally since the 15th century and also has PDO status.
Regional specialities, besides Fontina, are Motzetta (dried chamois meat, prepared like prosciutto), Vallée d’Aoste Lard d’Arnad (a cured and brined fatback product with PDO designation), Vallée d’Aoste Jambon de Bosses (a kind of ham, likewise with PDO designation), and a black bread.
Notable dishes include Carbonnade, consisting of salt-cured beef cooked with onions and red wine served with polenta; breaded veal cutlets called costolette; teuteuns, salt-cured cow’s udder that is cooked and sliced; and steak à la valdôtaine, a steak with croûtons, ham and melted cheese.
Notable wines include two white wines from Morgex (Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle and Chaudelune), a red wine blend from Arvier (Enfer d’Arvier), and a Gamay.