The history of the Romans and the ruins of Aosta during a walking tour
Guided tour of Aosta
Immerse yourself in the history of the ancient city of Augusta Praetoria Salassorum, the Rome of the Alps!
Pretending to be visitors of the ancient colony that came here thanks to the Via delle Gallie, we enter the city from the ancient Roman bridge over the Buthier torrent: along Corso Ivrea, it is easy to see the arched outline of this beautiful bridge, built with large blocks of local sandstone, today set in a beautiful flower garden. Yes, a catastrophic flood in the 11th century literally shifted the course of the torrent by a few dozen metres, and the bridge built by the Romans gradually became the heart of a real little medieval village.
From here, the eye immediately falls on the imposing Triumphal Arch of Augustus: the city and its walls are now very close! A perfectly straight line of perspective connects the bridge to the Arch and the Arch to the Decumanus Maximus, the main road leading from the eastern to the western gates of the Roman city. Of course, the city has grown over the centuries and the houses have 'eaten' the wide Roman road since the Middle Ages, but the ancient grid is not so difficult to read.
The shops in Via Sant'Anselmo lead us to the Porta Praetoria, one of the few Roman double city gates with a central courtyard. It has only recently been uncovered in its entirety, and you can appreciate its size once again by crossing it on footbridges anchored to the present road. If we imagine the original scenographic effect, it is easy to understand the emotion that this "little sister" of Rome at the foot of the Alps must have aroused!
Once you have passed through the gate and entered the Roman city, turn right and enter the ancient entertainment district: the astonishing façade of the Roman Theatre greets you from a height of 22 metres! Augusta Prætoria did not have an open-air theatre, but one built inside a walled enclosure, as if it were "enclosed"! The hypothesis is that it was covered, but there are still many uncertainties, although the charm of this building is dazzling! We are in the Aosta Valley, but the traces of ancient Rome are everywhere, palpable and enveloping!
Our archaeological itinerary continues in the direction of Piazza San Giovanni XXIII (better known as Piazza della Cattedrale), which was once the sacred area of an immense Roman forum covering no less than eight blocks, the remains of which can be seen in nearby Piazza Caveri: an emblematic place of the importance of trade and commerce in this Alpine colony.
There is very little to see, we can barely make out the podium of one of the two twin temples that must have towered over the sacred terrace, but we are all the more surprised to discover that Aosta has a real secret jewel: the Forensic Cryptoporticus! The name itself is a bit "exotic" and mysterious; we descend a few steps that lead us into a pretty garden and then down again to suddenly find ourselves in a two-aisled gallery with an imposing central row of columns. It could be the dim lighting... but there is an atmosphere that is difficult to describe... you have to come here!
It was a system of galleries in the shape of an inverted U, built by the Romans to raise and enclose the terraces of the temples, but at the same time it was a place of elegant promenade where the emperors and 'VIPs' of Augusta Prætoria might have had their portraits painted or announced their initiatives for the benefit of the community. There are more than thirty in Europe, but the one in Aosta is one of the best preserved and, above all, one of the most appreciated!
Easy and beautiful to discover, easy to explore on foot, Aosta is a city-museum, but also a city-cum-museum, where you can sit back and imagine a rich past that is still very much present. A place where you can enjoy the tranquillity of a small town in the mountains, dreamed of and wished for by a mighty emperor, which preserves in its heart and soul the long history of a borderland that, since the dawn of time, has told of the ancient bond between man and the mountains.
It will be a structured and comprehensive tour to relive the history of the city through its most important testimonies, in which I will be happy to accompany you!
The combined ticket includes access to the Roman Theatre, the MAR, the Cryptoporticus, the Megalithic Area and the Early Christian Basilica of San Lorenzo. Full - €10, reduced - €8 (accompanied by an Aosta Valley Tourist Guide), €3 for 19-25 year olds, free - for 0-18 year olds, for holders of the Piedmont and Lombardy Museum Pass, for people with a 104/92 certificate and their carers, for school teachers at a ratio of 1:10.
Winter opening 10-13, 14- 17
Summer open daily from 9am to 7pm, last admission 30 minutes earlier.
The Roman Theater is closed until May 2025