The Royal Castle of Sarre: home of the Savoy family
In a dominant position on a promontory overlooking the Aosta plain and gateway to the Upper Valley, the Royal Castle of Sarre recounts a piece of the history of the Savoy rulers and their intimate connection with the region. Of ancient origins, the manor was purchased by Victor Emmanuel II, the first King of Italy, who made it his summer and hunting residence. Today it also houses an exhibition, a fascinating historical and private narrative of the presence of the Savoy family in these valleys.
The abode of the Hunter King
Sarre Castle was built in the year 1000, but its fame came later, when it was bought by the King of Italy Victor Emmanuel II in 1869. He was a passionate hunter and would set off from here on his expeditions into the nearby valleys of Cogne, Rhêmes and Valsavarenche, now territories of Gran Paradiso National Park. This splendid location was not only the base for the king's hunting activities, but later also the holiday residence of heirs and spouses, attracted by the beauty of nature.
The elegant profile of the manor house stands out on a hillock in Lalex, in a verdant setting with the mountain range behind it. Changes were made to the castle to coincide with the king's arrival: the tower was raised further, a stable was added and the interior was modernised.
An authentic museum
The richly decorated Royal Apartments are magnificent, as is the Salone delle Corna later decorated by Umberto I, who also loved hunting: here and along the corridors you’ll will find an astonishing series of trophies of ibexes and chamois. In 1972, the Royal Castle of Sarre passed into private hands and in 1989 it was purchased by the Aosta Valley Region, which saw to its restoration and exhibition itinerary. The rooms have a meticulous layout: paintings, portraits and statues are displayed on the ground floor, while the second floor is dedicated to the 20th century and the exhibition chronologically follows the events related to the rulers.
A scenic loop to enjoy by bike
Sarre Castle is part of the touring loop starting in Saint-Pierre and leads through rural areas, ancient castles and stretches of unspoilt nature with views of the surrounding mountains. The bike path crosses apple orchards where you can see typical Aosta Valley varieties: Renetta and Golden Delicious. You’ll also come across vineyards on terraces delimited by dry stone walls, as well as patches of Scots pine. You’re in a protected area, in a natural corner with extraordinary specificities.
A climb reserved for few
Sarre is also famous for a very difficult wall to climb. This is an extreme crag that attracts famous climbers from all over the world: an imposing 45° overhanging slate of rock called Tetto di Sarre reserved for climbing champions. Vineyards also spread out below. In the distance, Mont Blanc is quite majestic.