Cly Castle, centre of feudal power
On a promontory at an altitude of 780 metres, Cly Castle watched over a vast territory: Chambave, Nus, Quart, as far as the gates of Aosta, then from Colle San Pantaleone to Valtournenche, also controlling the village below and Strada delle Gallie.
Once a centre of feudal power, today it offers a wonderful panorama and the opportunity to explore the surroundings, including small villages and nature.
A natural defensive position
The origins of Cly Castle date back to 1027 and it is therefore one of the oldest in Aosta Valley. Its strategic importance as a lookout over an immense feud is linked to the fate of the powerful Challant family of the Cly branch. Later, in 1376, it became the direct property of the Savoy family who governed the manor for two centuries.
Today, you can especially appreciate the spectacular location of the bastion on a rocky spur covered in wild vegetation, in a defensive position offered by nature. The central tower and walls are also visible. The remains of a small Romanesque chapel once decorated with frescoes can be seen leaning against the keep.
It is fascinating to walk among the ruins, with the snow-capped peaks in the background and the valley opening up below; the view reaches as far as Aosta on a clear day, with a panorama of the entire central part of the region. A perspective fun fact: Cly Castle is aligned with those of Montjovet and Ussel, at the three highest points in Ayas Valley.
They will tell you of heroic, but also bloody deeds perpetrated by the lordship during the years of power. And you will certainly learn of one of the many horrible stories that marked the Middle Ages: that of Johanneta Cauda imprisoned in the very dungeon of Cly Castle and finally burnt at the stake in 1428 on witchcraft charges.
Visit the Marseiller Village
While the frescoes and decorative details of Cly Castle have been lost, another well-maintained place deserves a visit: the nearby Marseiller Village. In the Chapel of St Michael, you can admire the frescoes painted in 1441 by Giacomino d'Ivrea, a tale of the Epiphany and the arrival of the Three Kings, the Adoration of the Child and the Flight into Egypt.
Ru Marseiller sets off from the village: a hike that runs between Verrayes, Saint Denis and Chambave and offers varied landscape views. You will also pass Cly Castle along the route.
Eco-holidays in Saint-Denis
Cly Castle is a hamlet of the municipality of Saint-Denis, an ancient village with a very modern ecological calling. Over the past few years, it has installed four state-of-the-art photovoltaic systems, one of them at the Lavesé Eco Centre used as a hostel with dining. The existing building was restored according to green building principles.
You can plan to stay here or in one of the various accommodations in the village that use solar panels and other energy-saving systems. The main historical monuments worth seeing include the Church of San Dionigio.