The town of Gressan, which lies among wide orchards in the vast flat area of Aosta (it is only 5 km away from the chief-town) is a concentrate of arts, nature and sport.
This town, already inhabited during the Roman period, had a significant role during the Middle Ages: the towers and the religious buildings dating back to that period host some precious but uncommon artistic treasures and are a proof of the importance of this settlement. Today Gressan is quite popular because of Pila, probably its most famous hamlet which is both a ski resort and a significant destination for mountain bike, but also for the excellent apple cultivation.
WHAT TO SEE
● The Romanesque church of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine de Villa. Surrounded by flourishing orchards, the chapel of La Madeleine definitely belongs to the Romanesque period. It owns some charming frescoes dating back to 1463, both inside out outside, all realised by Giacomino d’Ivrea. A golden crucifix of the XII century, now kept in the Cathedral Treasure Museum in Aosta, come from here.
● The La Tour de Villa castle. Lying a bit higher than the church of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, in a dominant position between orchards and vineyards, the La Tour de Villa castle now hosts an accommodation structure and, sometimes, small events.
● Maison Gargantua. Lying very close to the Côte de Gargantua regional nature reserve, this ancient building is an ethnographic museum about folk wisdom, an expositive venue, and the departure point to discover the surrounding territory.
NATURE AND SPORT
In addition to the mountain sports that can be practiced in Pila, the most famous hamlet of Gressan, the rest of the town offers various interesting proposals.
The best way to explore this territory is on foot or by bike. Notable are two routes: the one along the Sarre – Fénis cycling and walking trail and the road cycling itinerary Pont-Suaz – Pila.
The first route, which is mainly flat, gives the chance of admiring river lands and has some explanatory panels. It starts from the sport area in Gressan, a wide park surrounded by a 1-km long cycle lane. From here it is possible to go eastwards or westwards and, after having crossed the river and passed the sport area of Montfleury, towards Sarre or eastwards, towards Brissogne, always along the Dora Baltea river.
The second route, which is definitely more demanding, gives the chance of arriving to the 1,800 m of Pila and coming back to Charvensod.
The Côte de Gargantua nature reserve can be reached both on foot or by bike. It is a wide and dry spur, originated by glaciers, which owns a particular flora and fauna, linked to the steppe environment.
In Gressan the municipal sports centre offers a wide park with playgrounds for kids, bars and restaurants, football field and an indoor bowls area with 8 covered areas to play the traditional game of palet.
EVENTS AND TRADITIONS
● Fëta di pomme The first Sunday in October the apple festival celebrates this fruit with a market that proposes apples, typical products, handicrafts and funny activities.
● The Harlequin of Gressan is the traditional and amusing Carnival mask of the town: he wears red and green jacket and trousers, a hat with coloured paper fringes and hundreds of bells.
FOR THE LITTE ONES
The territory of Gressan has a lot to offer to its younger guests. In the vast park surrounded by a 1-km cycle lane there is also a playground, a roller lane, due fountains, benches and bars and restaurants: one of them also has a small open-air swimming-pool. Some other playgrounds are available in the other hamlets of the town. Kids can also have fun at the cycle lane along the Dora Baltea river or discover the ethnographic museum Maison Gargantua, learn about the folk widsdom and explore the Côte de Gargantua nature reserve, which hosts a flora and fauna typical of the steppe environment: this is a truly unique element in the Aosta Valley!
● Inhabitants: 3400
● Altitude: 600 m
● How to get there by public transports: after having reached Aosta by train or by bus, take the bus 5 to Aymavilles.
Note - this information is not directly connected to the Cammino Balteo path but it is part of the Aosta Valley tourist offer.