Weekend in Aosta

A weekend to discover the most famous medieval castle of the Aosta Valley


The Aosta Valley, always famous for its castles, hides a small treasure in Fénis that, perhaps, is the regions most famous medieval manor.

Of unknown origin, the Castello di Fénis is famous for its interesting architecture which sets it apart from other castles of its time; it has two layers of external walls that frame the central building, with an abnormal amount of towers surrounding it. It’s also very different from other Aostan castles as it’s not placed on any rocky cliffside or strategic position, but rather in plain view with no natural defenses of any kind.

This has lead many people to believe that the castle was only meant for the prestige of its owners, probably the noble Challant-Fénis family. The castle is located at the far side of a series of rolling plains that end at the foot of Saint Julien mountain, by the village of Pommier. 

Fènis castle is one of the main tourist destinations of the Aosta Valley


Fénis castle’s hypothetical roots go way back to Roman times, with theories placing it as the center of a rural village as it was for the castle of Issogene. However, unlike Issogene, Fénis has no archeological records to back up these claims. The first objective proof we have of Fénis castle’s existence is from around the year 1200, when it was called “castrum Fenitii” and belonged to the viscount of Aosta.

The castle itself has a pentagonal base, protected by the double wall structure and various towers, all connected by stone walkways. Past the walls is a closed garden that goes around the central building, which itself is composed of three floors: one for soldiers, one for the owners, and one for the servants.

Today, Fénis castle remains one of the biggest tourist attractions of the Aosta Valley, with an average of 80,000 visitors per year.

Written by: Aldo Galvagno
Translation by: Daniel Yeatman

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