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We hear all the time how friendly and welcoming Italians are, and yes, from the first ciao you encounter in either the airport lounge (the closest being the Sandro Pertini Airport, approximately 38 miles away) or the hotel lobby, from the moment you set foot in Saint-Vincent, you can rest assured your stay will be relaxing and happy. The village is small, not far from the large town of Aosta (approximately 18 miles away), but there is accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets.
The nearby area offers a range of restaurants and activities to choose from; all in all to help ensure you leave with good memories. You can visit tourist attractions, relax at a spa or go for ski trips in the Alps. It’s all here in Saint-Vincent, and all activities are within easy reach from the village, in an area with pleasant weather conditions all year round – the summers are not too hot and the winters are fairly mild.
If You Like Some Action
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Situated in the Aosta Valley in the northwestern part of the country, Saint-Vincent is ideal for both couples and families that want to steer away from the busier cities. Saint-Vincent and its surroundings are slightly off the beaten track and yet close enough to all of the amenities the visitor may wish for, staying lively enough to keep you entertained.
A fine example of activities catering to the tastes of those who need some adrenaline would be the choice of ski resorts. The Col de Joux Ski Resort in the immediate vicinity of Saint-Vincent offers good opportunities for skiing as well as a snow park where the younger ones can also have fun. Other options include those at Monte Rosa and in Gran Paradiso (which offers 91.2 km of slopes and reach up to 2,709 m).
If skiing is not for you, other options can be equally satisfying: Horseback riding, mountain biking or walking and trekking along several marked routes in the vicinity to enjoy the fresh mountain air, where you can watch the wildlife and marvel at the splendid views. Further activities to partake in include climbing, paragliding, golf, tennis and lake fishing. There’s something to suit everyone.
A Quick Stroll Around Town
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On the Piazza del Marcato (Market Square) we find the Museum of Mineralogy and Paleontology, which offers a fascinating look into the minerals of the area, as well as semi-precious stones and crystals from other parts of the world.
Do not miss a visit to the town’s San Vincenzo Church and the Sacred Art Museum. Old paintings, frescoes and the restored bell tower are some of the highlights. An archaeological site below the church takes the visitor back to the late Bronze/Iron Age and interesting artefacts relating to early Christian burial sites and customs. Guided tours are available.
Famous for the healing qualities of the waters of its thermal spring, Saint-Vincent’s therapeutic waters have been visited since 1770 when the Fons Salutis spring water was discovered by a naturalist abbot. The water is said to have healing properties for those suffering from various ailments such as diabetes, metabolic disorders and liver disease.
An Evening Out
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Known all over the globe for its Saint Vincent Resort and Casino, one of the largest in Europe, Saint-Vincent certainly draws visitors who want to be spoilt in beautiful, Alpine surrounds. Relax in the wellness center of the Grand Hotel Billia, enjoy fine dining in the La Grande Vue Gourmet Restaurant or drinks and wine of the highest quality at one of the 5 bars before you make your way to one of numerous casino tables.
The casino is known for having hosted many tournaments over the years, also having entertained some famous people. Sean Connery, of James Bond fame, is the subject of a very popular story that took place in the casino. During a 1963 visit to the roulette tables, Connery made a pair of losing bets on black 17, but he decided to give it another go – this time he won and let it ride. It landed on black 17 once more, and a third time too! His winnings totaled £10,000!
Some years later, Connery starred as James Bond for the last time in his career, in the movie Diamonds are Forever. The great coincidence is that in that movie, during a trip to Circus Circus casino in Las Vegas, Bond plays roulette and chooses black 17 and wins, years after Connery’s impressive win in Saint Vincent .
Must Do’s Nearby
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Easy to reach from Saint-Vincent we find Italy’s oldest national park, the Il Parco Nazionale Del Gran Paradiso, which offers various walking routes through beautiful surroundings. Along the mountain slopes you can enjoy sensational views across the valley and see wonderful wildlife which includes foxes, eagles and the Alpine ibex, a big-horned mountain goat.
While you’re out and about, be sure to go ‘castle hunting’ in the area if you’re interested in a bit of European history. Old castles dating back to the 11th century, such as ‘Quart,’ which was built as a fortified home to protect those who lived there against enemies of the time, form part of the allure of this area.
There is also the Châtillon, which dates back to 1343, and the Bastion of Verrès. Some of the most imposing castles include the ‘Saint Pierre’ from the late 12th century and the Castle of Aymavilles. Not only the serious student of architecture or history will enjoy trekking from one to the other, but also the visitor who wants to catch a glimpse of the past.
Off The Beaten Track – No less Exciting
Most travelers, when they start investigating and planning a trip, will probably be tempted to get ready for a break to a well-known city or resort; however, there are some jewels out there waiting to be discovered. They may be lesser-known destinations, but that does not mean they don’t offer the same (if not better) facilities, activities, attractions or scenic beauty as the more celebrated ones.
Saint-Vincent is one of those. Indulge in its naturally beautiful surroundings, its attractions and the fact that it is less noisy, less known – but still offers every comfort you would expect from a European destination.
So next time you plan a trip to Italy, say ”ciao” like the Italians and enjoy your time surrounded by warm, friendly faces!