The Duomo (Cathedral) was built over one thousand years ago, replacing the original Fourth Century building. It contains several objects of interest including a carved ivory piece honoring a Roman Emperor that recently celebrated its sixteen hundredth birthday. The cathedral is the major site for the Aosta Valley's annual International Organ Festival.

We end our tour of the Aosta Valley at Courmayeur, as the ads put it, on the sunny side of Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc). The loads of tourists who go there either don't know or more likely don't care that both easy and difficult ski slopes are lacking and that the place is sometimes overcrowded. The site is beautiful, and there's a lot of night life. And in the summer you can take the Télépherique de l'Aiguille du Midi and enjoy a spectacular view of a glacier snowfield as you pass over French territory.

What about food? Aosta Valley cuisine often resembles that of the neighboring Piedmont region. They both have a strong French influence due in grand part to the over five hundred year reign of the ruling House of Savoy. You can even get ham made from ibex or chamois from the Gran Paradiso National Park. The real Fontina cheese comes only from the Aosta Valley.

Let's suggest a sample menu, one of many. Start with Zuppa Valdostana (Cabbage and Cheese Soup). Then try Costoletta alla Valdostana (Veal Chop with Fontina Cheese). For dessert indulge yourself with Panna Cotta (Cooked Milk Custard). Be sure to increase your dining pleasure by including local wines with your meal.

We'll conclude this article with a quick look at Aosta Valley wine. Not surprisingly this tiny region comes in twentieth among Italy's twenty regions for both area devoted to the vine and actual wine production. About one quarter of the wine is classified as DOC. DOC stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, which may be translated as Denomination of Controlled Origin, presumably a high-quality wine. There is only a single DOC wine, divided into 23 categories. Very little Aosta Valley wine is sold in North America. So that gives you another reason to visit this beautiful region.

About the Author:Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but he prefers drinking fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods and people. He knows about dieting but now eats and drinks what he wants, in moderation. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. His new wine, diet, health, and nutrition website http://www.wineinyo urdiet.com links to his other sites.