A vertical region, you might say. And not just in the physical sense, for the many high peaks that surround it (including Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe at 4,807 metres), but also for the surprising concentration, in a region of such reduced dimensions, of so many natural splendours, so many monuments, so much precious historic and artistic heritage. A density which evokes, in its vertical aspect, the crowding of skyscrapers in a metropolis where horizontal urban space is scarce and precious. Aosta, the regional capital and the only province of the Valley, is a city rich in history. Traces of the ancient Augusta Pretoria (the Latin name of Aosta) can easily be seen, such as the great Arch of Augustus (25 B.C.) and the remains of the Roman Theatre. For Aosta the Middle Ages were anything but dark: as an important centre of commercial traffic with France and Switzerland, the city enjoyed a long period of prosperity. It is no coincidence that the Cathedral and Cathedral Church of S. Orso, two churches of great beauty, date back to the Middle Ages. Other medieval monuments lie at the feet of the city: the castle of Fénis and, in the vicinity of Saint-Vincent (the location of a famous casino), the castle of Issogne, whose unusually rich frescoes and architecture confirm the prosperity of that time. The natural landscapes of the Valley are fabulous: from the imposing peaks of Mont Blanc to the fascinating harshness of Cervino (4,478 metres), from the spectacular Monte Rosa (so called due to colour assumed by its great glaciers at certain times) to the Gran Paradiso, the high mountain at the centre of the huge Natural Park of the same name (over 200,000 hectares).The holiday towns and ski resorts of the Valley are long-established and well-known: Courmayer and Breuil-Cervinia are the most famous.