Via Francigena

Day 43 – Étroubles to Aosta: rolling down the mountain

The stage


👣 15km on foot – Monday 2 August

From 2500 m elevation to 1200 m during yesterday’s hike, today we’re down nearly to 700 m above sea level. A group of 14 people departed from Étroubles, but by the time we arrived in Gignod across the woods a lot of local hikers joined us, including the mayor of the town. When we arrived in GIgnod, we visited together the local museum, currently hosting an interactive exhibition about games and gaming, at the MAIN – Maison de l’Artisanat International; it was a fun, creative and child-friendly exhibition about handicraft which we all enjoyed very much as a break for our legs.
The villages we crossed, Étroubles and Gignod, put in evidence the passage of the Via Francigena, just as Saint-Rhémy-en-Bosses. In the main square of Étroubles, for example, big letters write the name of the Via Francigena, and dedicated frescos show some of the most important spots along the route.
We are expecting the weather to become suddenly very hot within few stages, so we are very much enjoying the freshness of the forest and of the mountains. We had our lunch break in Gignod – another cheese-based lunch. We can still feel the French and Swiss influences in this territory, both in terms of food but especially in language: most people speak French perfectly! We also asked our travel companions about the canals, which we have been skirting for most of today’s walk. It is a fascinating water provision and irrigation system which was developed in this area, and which locals described for us. Water is collected and carried through small rivers, or canals, called ‘Ru’, downwards from the mountains and across villages, farms and crop fields. This one in particular, that flows down beside the Via Francigena, is called Ru Neuf.
Some locals stopped in Gignod, and we continued on our steps towards Aosta as a smaller group again. A little before reaching Aosta, the assessor of the municipality met us and walked with us into the city; when we arrived, we were welcomed both by the Municipality and by the Regional Council, in particular by the President of Regione Valle d’Aosta; these institutions are strongly supporting the Road to Rome program and organization and gave us a warm official welcome into Italy.
But the best part, for me, is the warmth here in Aosta. The city is surrounded by mountains so the air is still fresh, but I am simply enjoying the fact that I don’t need to worry about rain and storms coming anymore – I can feel the Italian warm sun taking over, finally! I love it!

Visiting the games exhibition at MAIN – Maison de l’Artisanat International
The Ru Neuf watering canal that follows the Via Francigena for a long time
Façade of the Basilica in Aosta, which is made entirely out of terracotta

Myra Stals, Social Media Manager (EAVF)
Luca Faravelli, Project Manager (EAVF)
Laurette Proment (Regione Valle d’Aosta)
Diego Passoni, dj (Radio Deejay) + friends
Gabriella Farcoz, Mayor of Gignod
Alina Sapinet, councilwoman (Comune di Aosta)
Giulia Bertolazzi (video maker)
A big group of local walkers from Gignod