Aosta, with its 36339 inhabitants, is the provincial capital of the Aosta Valley and is situated in a broad Alpine basin surrounded by the peaks of Mount Emilius (3559 m), the Becca di Viou (2856 m) and the Becca di Nona (3142 m). The city itself lies in the most fertile and abundant part of the Dora Baltea valley. It is also an important meeting point for the traffic of international commerce thanks to its central position with respect to the main routes that link Italy to France and Switzerland through Mont Blanc, Great and Small St. Bernard passes. As far back as 2900 BC, the city was the military centre of the ‘Salassi” population. When they were defeated by Roman troops during the empire of Augustus, the city became a military settlement, was named Augusta Praetoria (25 BC) and quickly grew in importance and prosperity. It was once called “Rome of the Alps” and suffered numerous invasions by the Burgundians, Ostrogothians, Byzantines and the Franks. In the X century it belonged to the King of Burgundy who handed it over to Umberto Biancamano in 1025. The Aosta Vally has always enjoyed significant political independence, confirmed in 1948 by the introduction of a special statute.Aosta and its valley can be easily reached by motorway from Milan (180 km), from Turin (110 km), and from Genoa (230 km), as well as by trunk roads and by rail. The Mont Blanc and Great St. Bernard motorway tunnels also ensure easy connections all year round with France and Switzerland. During summer there is an option to take two scenic routes over the historical hills of the Great and Small St. Bernard which were famous in ancient times. The provincial airport “Corrado Gex”, in Aosta, where a local company of air-taxis is already in operation ensures a regular passenger service.
Piazza Maggiore square is dominated by the Church of San Petronio which was originally meant to be a bigger construction than St Peters in Rome. Due to a lack of funds, the building remained unfinished, but the church was built over several centuries. The Palazzo dell'Archiginnasio instead is the seat of the “Biblioteca Comunale” with its 700,000 books, rare manuscripts and codexes. It is the most important public library in Italy. It was the first headquaters of the University of Bologna in the 16th century. The Towers are considered to be the symbols of Bologna. The Torre degli Asinelli, which belonged to an important local family, was built at the beginning of the 12th century. The taller of the two towers reaches 98 meters. It is open to the public and has a total of 498 steps to be climbed. The Torre della Garisenda dates back to the 11th century. It was lowered around 1360 for fear it would collapse. Not far away is the Piazza della Mercanzia, famous for its outstanding Loggia dei Mercanti.
There are over 300 hectares (740acres) of grapevines within the city limits, one seventh of the total area. In autumn, the aroma of freshly crushed grapes wafts through the city from its 27 wineries.
A period of decline arrived with the political fragmentation from which the feudal system sprang up. The town began to expand until it spread over half of the Arno valley and surrounding hillsides. Despite internal struggles, first between rival families and then between the Guelfs (loyal to the Pope) and the Ghibellines (loyal to the Emperor), from the thirteenth century onwards it began to flourish as a city of art, culture and international trade, reaching its peak in the fifteenth century under the Signoria of Cosimo and Lorenzo de’ Medici.
Palazzo Carignano, designed by Guarini, was home to the first Italian Parliament. Nowadays it houses the Museum of the Risorgimento. Also designed by Guarini in the Baroque Piazza Carignano is the Galleria Sabauda and the Egyptian Museum, which, founded in 1824, is the world's oldest and second most important.
It takes on an exceptional atmosphere during the phenomenon of "high water," when the high tide exceeds the level of dry land and floods the main streets and piazzas of Venice. For these reasons, Venice is one of the cities most visited by tourists from all over the world.
The façade is covered with marble and Byzantine mosaics.