|Comune di Ayas|
View of Antagnod
|Frazioni||Antagnod, Champoluc, Bisous, Mandrou, Magnéaz, Palouettaz, Palenc, Champlan, Frachey, Saint-Jacques, Pra Sec, Rovinal, Drole, Blanchard, Péyo, Réze, Crojettaz, Fiére, Suttsun, Cunéaz, Crest, Frantse, Mascognaz, Pilaz, Magnéchoulaz, Eriou, Périasc, Périasc d'aval, La Crouch, Trochey, Meytére, Cornu, Corbet, Lignod, Borbey, L'Ojel, Goil deseut, Goil damon, Piéit, Granon, Graines|
|• Total||129.42 km2 (49.97 sq mi)|
|Elevation||1,698 m (5,571 ft)|
|• Density||11/km2 (27/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
|Patron saint||Martin of Tours|
|Saint day||11 November|
Ayas (Arpitan : Ayâs or Ayah; Gressoney Walser : Ajats; Aiàs between 1939 and 1945 ) is a comune sparso in the Aosta Valley region of northwestern Italy, with 1359 inhabitants in 2010.
It is made up of several frazioni (locally officially called hameaux, in French), the two major ones being Antagnod which holds the town hall and the main parish, and Champoluc. All the frazioni of Ayas were combined under the one jurisdictional parish of Saint-Martin d'Antagnod in 1761. They remained combined in this way until the new parish of Sainte-Anne of Champoluc was built in 1946.The comune of Ayas lies up the Ayas valley from Brusson.
The comune of Ayas occupies the upper part of the homonymous valley at the feet of the great peaks of the Pennine Alps, which separate it from Zermatt in the Mattertal (Switzerland) and mark the border between Italy and Switzerland. The most notable of these peaks are Castor (4,226 m), Pollux (4,091 m) and the Breithorn (4,165 m), the highest peaks of Monte Rosa Massif's glacier.
Another important glacier is the Grand Glacier of Verra. It is the principal source of the Évançon, which flows down the Val d'Ayas and empties into the Dora Baltea (French : Doire baltée).
In the opposite direction from the Monte Rosa Massif is Dzerbion, a 2,720 metre mountain in the shape of a pyramid, which separated the comune of Ayas from that of Saint-Vincent.
With respect to flora, the landscape of Ayas is dominated by various species of Alpine plant, such as the cowberry ( Vaccinium vitis-idaea ), the gentian ( Gentiana acaulis ) and the spring pasque flower ( Pulsatilla vernalis ). The main trees in the woods are the European spruce ( Picea abies ), the Swiss pine ( Pinus cembra ) and the European larch ( Larix decidua ).
The fauna which inhabits the area of Ayas is very varied too. There are marmots in the remote parts of the territory, squirrels and foxes in the woods, and golden eagles in the sky. The rivers and lakes are characterised by freshwater fish, like the marble trout./
The Latin name is Agatiuswhich seems to be the name of the first Roman colony. However, the etymology of the name is uncertain - there are many opinions. For example, Ayas could be cognate with the river Ayasse in the Champorcher Valley, deriving from the Latin adjective aquatica. Another theory is that it might derive from giàs, Piedmontese for "livestock pen".
As for the earliest human settlement in the valley, it is thought that Ayas was initially populated by the Salassi. These people practiced agriculture, pastoralism, hunting and fishing up to the Roman conquest in around 25 BC. The Val d'Ayas became an important route to other territories of the Empire. Later this role was consolidated and the connections with Valais were expanded. As a result of these connections, Ayas later became known as Krämertal (Merchant Valley).
Around 515, the territory of Ayas became part of the fief controlled by the monks of Saint-Maurice d'Agaune, of Burgundian origin. This group imposed Christianity on the peasantry of Ayas. This is the period when the first churches were built and the roads connecting the villages were expanded. Later the control of the Church over Ayas was strengthened, until the Pope gave total control of the valley to the Bishop of Aosta, Aymon of Quart in a Papal bull of 1776. This is the first certain attestation of Ayas.
At the same time as the arrival of the Burgundians in the sixth century, came a migration of Walsers (a group of Germanic origin) into the valley, in particular to Saint-Jacques which is locally known as the Canton des Allemands (French for "Canton of the Germans"). A second migration occurred in the twelfth century. This migration has left traces in the architecture, which is similar to that of Valais and of the upper Lys Valley, and in the language of the upper val d'Ayas, which is very different from the other varieties of Valdôtain in phonology and vocabulary.
Around 1200 the land of the family of Graines, which then controlled Ayas, was sold to the Challant family, viscounts of Aosta. A good portion of the val d'Ayas thus came into the possession of the Challant family and received the name "Vallée de Challant-Ayas". However the valley was not completely controlled by this powerful feudal family - the Abbey of St Maurice had ultimate sovereignty over the land. The Challant family governed the Val d'Ayas until the eighteenth century when their weakened members lost control of it. Thereafter the valley became part of the Duchy of Savoy and was administered by the church, which controlled many parishes along the whole valley.
Like all the other comuni of the Aosta Valley, Ayas suffered from high emigration at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. The main destinations were France and Switzerland.
During the two world wars, many men of Ayas were conscripted into the armed forces. In the fascist period, a hostile attitude developed towards the regime and in 1944 a small partisan action took place. The Germans also came to Ayas. In 1939 the place name was Italianised as "Aiàs".
After the wars there was an economic revival as a result of tourist activities in Ayas, which led to the construction of hotels, houses, streets and to economic changes.
The Val d'Ayas has been strongly influenced by the Church in the course of its history. Thus, today, it contains more than twenty religious buildings, including churches, chapels, sanctuaries, grottoes and shrines all painted and connected to particular artistic genres.
As regards popular architecture, the popular building par excellence is the rascard (of Walser origin). The main materials are stone and brick, materials in which the territory is rich. These are combined in the simple, but elegant form of the common house of Ayas, which served as home, stable, and barn. It is characterised by the presence of two or more floors - the lower floor of stone and the upper of wood, separated by an architectural layer of stone mushrooms which serve to keep rats from climbing up to the inhabited floor. The roof with a frame composed of tree trunks is covered over by flagstone - flat stones typical of the Walser landscape. Within this framework there are many characteristic and variable artistic elements, such as the finish of the wood, the round-arched doors, the lattices on the windows. In addition, the people of Ayas painted their houses in the same way as their churches, so it is not unusual for passers-through to encounter representations of the Madonna, Jesus, the Saints and the Sacred Family.
The woodwork of the sabotiers d'Ayas is renowned for its sabot shoes, known in the local dialect as tsôques (French : socques).
There are many popular tales which are recounted about the villages and some local places, like the chapel of Salus and the hermitage of Résy.
Apart from official French and Italian, in addition to the patois valdôtain, the local population also understand Piedmontese as a result of the geographical proximity and historical links with Canavese.
The Compagnie des guides de Champoluc-Ayas, a society of mountain guides is found in Champoluc.
There are kindergartens and elementary schools in Ayas. The municipal library is based at Antagnod.
Tsan, a traditional sport of the Aosta Valley, is played in this municipality.
The economy of the comune is very different from what it was a century ago. Today it concentrates mostly on tourist activities: hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, chalets, and other tertiary sector activities. The skiing facilities of Monterosa Ski are essential to the economy. There are, however, still some artisanal and agricultural activities.
Based on the tax returns of 2006, published in 2007, Ayas is the richest comune in Italy: on average the citizens earn over €66,000 per year.This result is affected by the fact that the founder of Fastweb, Silvio Scaglia, lives in the comune.
The main activity of Ayas is tourism. Thus in the course of the year the commune and residents offer many activities to holidaymakers to discover the beauty of the territory and culture of Ayas. There are two skiing facilities - one in Antagnod and one in Champoluc. Antagnod was included in the 2008 edition of The most beautiful villages in Italy. Ayas takes part in the Unité des communes valdôtaines de l'Évançon.
The Aosta Valley is a mountainous autonomous region in northwestern Italy. It is bordered by Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France, to the west, Valais, Switzerland, to the north, and by Piedmont, Italy, to the south and east. The regional capital is Aosta.
Aosta is the principal city of Aosta Valley, a bilingual region in the Italian Alps, 110 km (68 mi) north-northwest of Turin. It is situated near the Italian entrance of the Mont Blanc Tunnel, at the confluence of the Buthier and the Dora Baltea, and at the junction of the Great and Little St Bernard Pass routes.
Franco-Provençal is a dialect group within Gallo-Romance originally spoken in east-central France, western Switzerland and northwestern Italy.
Brusson is a town and comune in Val d'Ayas, a left minor valley of the Aosta Valley region in Italy.
The development of music in the Aosta Valley region of Italy reflects the multilingual make-up of the region including French, Valdôtain and recently Italian. The strong traditions of choral singing, village bands, and folk music are nurtured both by the Italian as well as German speakers of the area.
Bionaz is a comune sparso which extends over 143 square kilometres (55 sq mi) of the North-Eastern Valpelline area of the Aosta Valley region of northwest Italy. The commune lies on the left side of the river Dora Baltea. The population of about 240 is dispersed among 20 or more small alpine villages and hamlets including Plan-de-Veyne, which is the main centre and the capoluogo. The commune belongs to the Unité des communes valdôtaines du Grand-Combin.
Challand-Saint-Anselme ; is a town and comune in the Aosta Valley region of northwestern Italy.
Chambave is a town and comune in the Aosta Valley region of northwestern Italy.
Fontainemore is a town and comune in the Aosta Valley region of north-western Italy.
Pontey is a town and comune in the Aosta Valley region of north-western Italy.
Montjovet is a town and comune in the Aosta Valley region of north-western Italy. Montjovet lies in the lower Aosta Valley, between France and Switzerland. Though it only has an area of 18.7 square kilometers, the commune has 50 villages and hamlets, and a number of hills, the highest of which is Mont Lyan, at 2174 metres. Historically, the parish was under the control of the Bishop of Aosta. The current main parish church, Parrocchia della Natività della Vergine Maria, opened in 1837.
Saint-Vincent is a town and comune in the Aosta Valley region of north-western Italy. Saint-Vincent, elevation 575 metres (1,886 ft), is a popular summer holiday resort with mineral springs.
Verrès Castle is a fortified 14th-century castle in Verrès, in the lower Aosta Valley, in north-western Italy. It has been called one of the most impressive buildings from the Middle Ages in the area. Built as a military fortress by Yblet de Challant in the fourteenth century, it was one of the first examples of a castle constructed as a single structure rather than as a series of buildings enclosed in a circuit wall.
The castle stands on a rocky promontory on the opposite side of the Dora Baltea from Issogne Castle. The castle dominates the town of Verrès and the access to the Val d'Ayas. From the outside it looks like an austere cube, thirty metres long on each side and practically free of decorative elements.
Valdôtain is a dialect of Arpitan (Franco-Provençal) spoken in the Aosta Valley in Italy. It is commonly known as patois or patoué.
Aymon II of Challant was a nobleman of the Challant family of Aosta Valley.
Valpelline is one of the side valleys of the Aosta Valley in north-west Italy. It shares its name with one of the communes within its territory (Valpelline) and Valpelline is also one of the names by which the River Buthier is known.
The Évançon is the stream which flows through the val d'Ayas and flows into the Doire baltée. Its name in Franco-Provençal might mean "Grand River" or "River from the Mountaintops". In archival documents it is often referred to as l'eau blanche.
Jean-Baptiste Cerlogne was a poet-priest and scholar of the Valdôtain dialect of Franco-Provençal. He is celebrated as a pioneer of Franco-Provençal grammar and lexicography, identifying a vocabulary for a set of dialects that had hitherto very largely been transmitted only orally. He is also considered the principal poet of the Aosta Valley, where he lived for most of his life, being a Savoyard in his youth before becoming an Italian.
Corno Bussola is a 3,023 metres high peak on the Italian side of the Pennine Alps.
Léon-Clément Gérard was a churchman in the Val d'Aoste who became a cathedral canon in nearby Aosta. Within the church he came to prominence as a controversialist, notably on account of his long-standing record of theological and very public feuding with Félix Orsières to whose polemical Liberal Catholicism Gérard, alongside his colleagues within the Aosta cathedral establishment, he was strongly opposed. His church career culminated in his appointment as diocesan archpriest. It is, however, on account of his activities as a prolific writer, in particular of religious and regional publications, that he came to wider prominence.