A thousand-year history of journeys and pilgrimages
Donnas is among the first places you encounter when approaching the Aosta Valley from the south-eastern side. With its thousand-year history, beginning in the Roman era, of which a perfectly preserved paved stretch of road of over 200 metres and the characteristic arch carved in rock, from the 1st century BC, remains past which lies the medieval village.
In Roman times, Donnas was a place of passage and an obligatory stop on the Via delle Gallie. Then later, in medieval times, of pilgrims travelling from Canterbury (England) to Rome along the Via Francigena.
The "doc" landscape of "heroic" viticulture
The village is 322 metres above sea level with a landscape characterised by terraces all planted with vines. The Vineyard Trail of Donnas, known as the Balteo Trail, runs along here. In fact, the town stretches out on both sides of the Dora Baltea. Thanks to "heroic" viticulture, making the most of an area not particularly easy for agriculture, the full-bodied red wine "Donnas" is produced here, the first in Valle d'Aosta to be awarded the Denominazione d'Origine Controllata (DOC), with Nebbiolo, Freysa and Neyret grapes. The traditional Wine and Vine Museum is worth a visit.
On the second Sunday in October, the impressive "Grape Festival" is held. Also, visit the traditional "Wood Fair", held in the medieval village on the second-to-last Sunday in January. Another January highlight is the Petite Foire craft fair.
In summer, you can take leisurely walks among the vineyards, or stroll through the Cignas forest, equipped with parking and tables and benches for up to 250 people, in the shade of centuries-old chestnut trees. This was Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour's favourite destination during the construction of the monumental complex of the Bard Fortress, one of the finest examples of early 19th-century barrage fortress. You can also go on longer or shorter hikes, such as to Col di La Cou (1425 m), where the remains of military fortifications can be seen, to Monte Bo (2026 m), to the Moja alpine pasture or to Bonze. For climbing enthusiasts, you can find Climbing Park Balteo nearby in the picturesque setting of vie ferrate, crags and vineyards.
As you stroll through the mediaeval village, you can admire frescoes, Gothic portals, Savoy shields, cross-vaulted windows and stately palaces such as Palazzo Perron or Palazzo Enrielli. A must-see is the chapel of Sant'Orso, built in 1176 to protect the village from the flooding of the Dora Baltea river.