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Stage 5. Verrès to Pont-Saint-Martin

  From Verrès you walk along the foot of the terraced rock faces, used for vine growing. The route then crosses through Arnad, a location renowned for the lard DOP and its splendid medieval church, after which you carry on through Hône, to reach Bard. Here the Fortress of Bard stands on a spectacular rock, a wonderful example of military architecture, made up of three outposts placed at different heights and dominating over the access routes to the Valley. The fortress is host to the Museum of the Alps and prestigious art and photography exhibitions.
 
The route leads on through the beautiful hamlet, where, in the Middle Ages, there were two almshouses for pilgrims. The road towards Donnas follows the longest remaining stretch of the Roman road “delle Gallie”, underlined by a particular vaulted passageway and paved directly and perfectly into the rock. The route then finally reaches Pont-Saint-Martin, where you can admire the magnificent Roman bridge constructed over the “via delle Gallie”. the final point on the Valdostana section of the Via Francigena route.
 

Courtesy of www.lovevda.it
Distance Time Elevation in meters

Km
Elapsed
Hrs-Mins
Moving
Hrs-Mins
Gain Loss Min Max
14.8   3H35 180 150 345 391

   

   

Original map courtesy of "The Via Francigena Terre De Mezzo by Roberta Ferraris ISBM978-88-6189-491-4"

5.1 2.6 km Through the historic center of Arnad
5.2 4.1 km Church San Martin
5.3 5.8 km Roman bridge Ponte Echallod
5.4 9.2 km Under pass for motorway at Hone
5.5 9.8 km Cross SS26 to join Via Vittorio Emanuele II
5.6 10.6 km Right, through a worksite
5.7 11.7 km Best preserve stretch of the Roaman Via Via del Gallie and the stone arch

 

 

The last part of the itinerary in Aosta is rich in cultural heritage – the marvellous parish church of St. Martin in Arnad, the bridge of Bard, dominated by the eponymous fort which is home to the Museo delle Alpi (Alps Museum), the bridge of Echallod, the entrance to Donnas via the Gaul Consular Road and the Roman bridge of Pont-Saint-Martin. Arnad is well-known for the renowned “Vallée d’Aosta lard d’Arnad”, a protected designation of origin product (PDO) obtained by brining pieces of pork fatback – previously trimmed and cut into slabs – in traditional oak or chestnut containers known as “doil”. Arnad Romanesque parish church of St. Martin is also worth a mention, in particular its 15th-century door, enclosed by a tuff flamboyant arch symbolising two intertwined tree trunks and surmounted by a rose window. Fort Bard is a magnificent fortified complex that reminds visitors of Napoleon’s passage through the Aosta Valley; the fortress is situated in a narrow gorge, on a rocky promontory above the river Dora.

Don’t forget to visit the Alps Museum, the old prisons and the “Ferdinand” building with the two museums of the fortifications and frontiers.

In Donnas, a village famous for the vineyards adorning the steep sides of the mountain, you will find a stretch of Roman road that was dug into the rock in the 1st century B.C.; today, a stone arch and a milestone showing 36 miles from Augusta Pretoria (Aosta) still survive. The last town of the valley, Pont-Saint-Martin, boasts important remains of the Roman times, like the bridge over the stream Lys, dating back to the 1st century B.C. The village has also beautiful medieval buildings like L’Castel, a 15th-century fortified house. The 13th century feudal castle, built at the behest of the Masters of Bard, overlooks the village from a promontory above the entrance to the Valley of Gressoney.

 
     

 

La Valle della Dora Baltea with Arnad on the right

Arnad
(www.ilturista.info)

Ponte Echallod, Arnad , built between 1770 and 1776 to replace pre-existing Romanesque bridge

St Martin in Arnad

 


Fortress of Bard is a fortified complex built in the 19th century by the House of Savoy on a rocky prominence above Bar. It has been completely restored after many years of neglect. In 2006 it reopened to tourists as the Museum of the Alps, it has additional art exhibitions and galleries. In the summer, the main courtyard is used to host musical and theatrical performances.

The fort, which is at the entrance to the Aosta Valley, is located in a narrow gorge above the Dora Baltea river. It has been used for millennia to control the historic route between Italy and France.
The current fortifications were built by Charles Albert of Savoy between 1830 and 1838. It replaced in 10th-century castle that had, itself, been built on an earlier structure founded by Theodoric I in the 5th century.

The castle was under the control of the powerful local lords of Bard until the middle of the 13th century when ownership passed to the House of Savoy. Under their control, the defenses were strengthened and improved.

Recently the fortress was used as the main setting for one of the highest-grossing film in the history of world cinema: The Avengers; This has contributed to a lot of work to many young residents in the municipality of Bard and nearby.

 

 

Pont Saint Martin

Typical vinyard at Donnas

Donnas Roman Road