Valle di Gressoney

Gressoney-Saint-Jean

Queen Margaret of Savoy in Gressoney

The Queen who loved Gressoney and Monte Rosa

By: Gressoney Monterosa

Queen Margaret of Savoy

Queen Margherita of Savoy, born on 20 November 1851 and died on 4 January 1926, was the Queen Consort of Italy from 1878 to 1900, marrying King Umberto I of Savoy.

She was known for her interest in mountains and mountaineering, and is famous for being the first woman to climb Monte Rosa.

Monte Rosa is the highest mountain in the Pennine Alps chain and the second highest peak in the European Alps, located on the border between Italy and Switzerland. Queen Margaret of Savoy's ascent of Monte Rosa took place on 18 August 1889. She left from Gressoney where she owned her famous summer residence, the Castel Savoia. 

The Castel Savoia offered her a privileged view of Monte Rosa. This breathtaking panoramic view certainly fascinated her and inspired her mountaineering passions.

Regina Margherita di Savoia's ascent of Monte Rosa was a significant event, as she was the first woman to reach the summit. This represented an important milestone for female mountaineering and inspired other women to venture into mountain climbing.

She was important in promoting interest in the mountains and challenging traditional gender roles in the society of the time.

Margaret of Savoy's presence brought several benefits and enrichments to Gressoney in several ways.

Firstly, Queen Margaret helped to promote tourism in Gressoney and the surrounding region. Her regular attendance of Gressoney as a holiday resort attracted the attention of other influential people of the time, who came to visit the area to follow the queen's example. This led to an increase in tourism in the region, benefiting the local economy and encouraging the development of tourist infrastructure.

In addition, Queen Margaret showed great interest in art and culture. During her stays in Gressoney, she promoted and supported local arts and crafts. She encouraged the production of traditional Valdostan artefacts, such as textiles, embroidery and carved wooden objects. This stimulated the local economy and preserved the region's craft traditions.

Finally, Queen Margaret promoted the conservation of the natural environment of Gressoney and the surrounding Alps. She was an advocate of nature conservation and was actively involved in the preservation of the Alpine landscape. This helped to preserve the natural beauty of Gressoney for future generations and to promote ecotourism in the region.

In summary, Margaret of Savoy's presence in Gressoney brought significant benefits to the economy, art, culture, social welfare and environmental conservation. Her love for Gressoney left a lasting impression on the local community and contributed to making Gressoney a place of great historical and cultural value.

Savoy Castel

Savoy Castel

The Savoy Castle veranda

The Savoy Castle veranda

Queen Margaret of Savoy on Monte Rosa

Queen Margaret of Savoy on Monte Rosa

Queen Margaret of Savoy on Monte Rosa

Queen Margaret of Savoy on Monte Rosa

Queen Margaret of Savoy and the Walser costume of Gressoney

During her reign, Queen Margherita often visited the Valle d'Aosta, a mountainous region in the north-west of Italy.

In particular, she took an interest in local traditions and culture, showing a particular interest in the Walser community of Gressoney. Queen Margherita greatly appreciated the Walser costume of Gressoney and considered it a form of expression of local culture and identity. She often wore traditional Walser clothing during her visits to the region as a sign of respect for the community and to support the preservation of its traditions.

The Queen helped to embellish Gressoney's Walser costume with her refined taste and her influence on the fashion and trends of the time.

The Castle, the Queen's summer residence

Queen Margaret loved to spend part of the summer in the mountains and chose Gressoney as the place for her summer residence.

The castle is situated in a panoramic position and enjoys spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and in particular of the Monte Rosa massif. It is an example of Alpine architecture, with a mix of styles reflecting the German and Swiss influence in the area.

Queen Margherita was a great botany enthusiast and devoted much attention to the design of the park surrounding the castle, where she had numerous species of flowers and plants from all over the world planted. The park of the Savoy Castle is still today a place of great beauty and botanical interest.

After the death of Queen Margherita, the castle changed hands and underwent several transformations. Today it is owned by the Autonomous Region of Valle d'Aosta and is open to the public as a museum, allowing visitors to admire the frescoed interiors, period furniture and to immerse themselves in the historical atmosphere of this royal residence.

Castel Savoia thus represents a tangible link between Queen Margherita of Savoy and the Gressoney region, testifying to her love of the mountains and her desire to spend time in the beautiful Valle d'Aosta.

The Queen's walk

From the Savoy Castle, the Queen used to walk to the centre of the village of Gressoney Saint Jean via a simple level path.

The path, which from the gate of the castle park runs along the mountain on the orographic right of the Gressoney valley, crosses a dense larch forest for about a kilometre, until it gently descends towards the area of today's Lake Gover.

The Queen loved to walk along that path to go to church or to the centre of the village that was so dear to her.

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