Lying at the mouth of the valley with the same name, on the right orographic side of the Dora river, Saint-Marcel (630 m) was already known in ancient times for its manganese and chalcopyrite mines. The agriculture is mainly based on fruit trees, cultivated in the hamlets that extend up to 1200 metres. The climate of Saint-Marcel reflects that of the envers area of Aosta Valley, which is characterised by low sunshine during some winter months. The summer heat, on the other hand, is mitigated by the breeze that blows daily from east to west in the afternoon.
WHAT TO SEE
● The Servette mining site is located at 1.800 metres, one of the highest in Europe. Cultivated since Roman times for the extraction of copper and millstones, the mines today are an open-air museum that can be visited with guides.
● The Plout Sanctuary, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, is a place venerated since the XIV century. The current building dates back to 1851.
● The Castle of Saint-Marcel in Surpian is a “rural-residential” type castle dating back to the 14th-15th centuries.
NATURE AND SPORT
In the wetland called Les îles, declared a regional nature reserve in 1995, it is possible to observe one of the few river environments along the Dora Baltea, where more than 130 different species of birds, including herons, mallards, coots and moorhens stop.
Saint-Marcel offers suggestive excursions in total calm: among these, the one to the green waters, a source which, at certain times of the year, is tinged with a fairy-tale turquoise colour due to the presence of copper-rich salts in the water. The trip to the small lake of the Layet, nestled between the mountains, is also one of the itineraries that start from the picnic area of Les Druges. In winter, in the same area, you can find some snowshoe trails such as the one to Prapremier.
EVENTS AND TRADITIONS
● Prosciuttiamo - The ham festival is held every year in June and it is an opportunity to taste it along the “Via del Prosciutto”, a delicious itinerary to be followed by stopping in the merenderie of the pretty hamlets of the village.
● In many hamlets you can still notice the community ovens that, in the past, were used to bake the typical bread made with rye and wheat. Those of Seissogne have been restored and are occasionally used to maintain the baking tradition.
FOR THE LITTLE ONES
In addition to the fun playground situated in the village, the Viviminiera Documentation Centre in the municipality of Saint-Marcel is an evocative and stimulating thematic path to get to know the mines of Servette through models, reconstructions and video-animations.
The walk through the Les îles nature reserve can be done on foot, by bicycle and with stroller.
● Inhabitants: 1345
● Altitude: 630 m
● How to get there by public transport: Saint-Marcel can be reached from Aosta by bus with the “Aosta-Fénis” line. Timetables are available on the Arriva company website.