Donnas is the nearest Municipality to the Bard Fortress for people coming from Piedmont. It is located at an altitude of 322 metres and enjoys an exceptionally mild climate that has made it famous for its fine wines.
It was a crucial hub in Roman times, as it was a mandatory transit and rest point on the Strada delle Gallie Roman Road. The terracing of the hilly terrain is notable here. The land is tightly cultivated with vines, from which the celebrated Donnas red wine is produced, the first wine in the Aosta Valley to obtain DOC status (Controlled Denomination of Origin). In the summer, take relaxing walks along the Fer stream or head deep into the Cignas forest, the favourite destination of the Count of Cavour during his time in Bard while the Fortress was being built. You can also enjoy long or short hikes, such as the one to the Col di La Cou (1425 m), where you can see the ruins of military fortifications, the hike to Monte Bo (2026 m), the hike from Le Donnes to the Moja Alpine pasture or to Bonze.
Points of interest
Roman Road and Arch
Stopping off at this exquisite monument is a must if you are travelling along the 26 Trunk Road: a perfectly preserved, 221-metre-long paved section of road around 5 metres wide, featuring cart ruts, with a characteristic Roman arch built in the 1st century BC, carved out of the rock. The arch has become the little town’s symbol. A Roman milestone indicates that Aosta is 36 (XXXVI) miles away.
The old quarter is well worth a visit. With its 16th-century windows, its frescoes, walnut portals and the Palazzo Enrielli (17th century), it has preserved an utterly charming feel. Still today, access to the town’s main street is through an ancient Medieval gate. The traditional Sant’Orso Wooden Handicrafts Fair is held here every year.
The sun-drenched slopes of Donnas have provided the ideal environment for growing vines for centuries. The terraced landscapes of Donnas welcome visitors to the Aosta Valley, just a few kilometres from the Bard Fortress. This is where Nebbiolo, Freysa and Neyret grapes are grown, used to produce the Vallée d’Aoste Donnas Doc.
The truly beautiful Vineyard Route (“Strada dei Vigneti”) runs between Donnas and Pont-Saint-Martin andis easy for everyone on foot, setting out from either of the two towns. Admire the panoramic view of the entrance to the Aosta Valley and lowlands of the nearby Canavese.
It is the first tower you meet when heading back up the Aosta Valley, dating back to the 13th century.Located approximately thirty minutes of trail away from the Pramotton hamlet, the hexagonal-plan tower is embellished with six merlons on its six points. The entrance is four metres from the ground and you can still see part of the wall that originally surrounded the tower.
Bonze Valley and Moia
This traditional event celebrating traditional Aosta Valley handicrafts takes place on the penultimate Sunday of January along the main street of the Medieval quarter. It is an event held in the run-up to the more famed Aosta Fair and is your chance to enjoy a taste of what the atmosphere will be like at the festival in the regional capital.
Festivals of Grapes and the Chestnut
You simply cannot miss these two Autumn events in the Lower Valley, always very popular. The Festival of Grapes takes place during the first weekend of October and is followed by the couple of days dedicated to the chestnut.