For some historians, the town's name derives from the Latin word "vitricium" (glass), for others it refers to a particular type of rock. An active industrial and commercial center and a touristic resort in the valley of the Dora Baltea, located on the banks of the river Evançon, the village of Verrès is dominated by a cliff located about two kilometers from the center, which features a castle that marks the border with the nearby Val d'Ayas.
The countryside offers the possibility of several pleasant excursions. The Castle of Villa, occupies a strategic position and overlooks the lower valley on the Ayas and from here it is possible to admire a superb panoramic view of the area, framed by the surrounding peaks of the Vallone of Dondeuil and Natural Reserve of Lake Villa. The castle is only reachable facing a dirt path, which is not particularly challenging but certainly a great walk through the woods between the local nature.
It was probably a politically and militarily strategic center of the Salassi (antique Italic population). It was then conquered by the Romans who named it Vitricium. In the XIII century the territory was divided between the Bishop of Aosta and the feudal families of the Counts of Savoy: De Turril, De Arnado and De Verret, which disputed with the first, until the siege of the bishop's residence of Issogne in 1333 . In 1390 the town became part of the feud of Challant because the Savoy ceded Verrès to Ibleto of Challant, who had distinguished himself for loyalty and dedication towards the Family, and then passed to his son Francis. After the death of Francis, without a male heir, a long hereditary dispute started and ended when Verrès became a possession of the Lord's nephew James of Challant Aymavilles. Some time later, again the same no male heir of the Challants, reopened the dispute over the inheritance, until at the end of the XVII century, the territory became part of the Savoy dominion, till 1696, when, at conclusion of a legal wrangling, it returned to the Challant .
Not to miss:
Castle Verrès, a square shaped construction that consists of a single block with double walls more than 2 feet high and is the classic example of a medieval fortification. It was built by Ibleto of Challant between 1360 and 1390 for military purposes. In fact, its location on a rocky promontory overlooking the river Evançon made it difficult to access and simultaneously allowed the control of the surrounding territory. A sophisticated and ingenious system of hatches, frontispiece, entrance uphill curves and gates, it was designed as an unassailable fortress, and enabled its inhabitants to resist to long sieges. In a later period the building was expanded and in 1536 it was surrounded by another curtain of walls.
Castle Issogne, one kilometer from Verres, is one of the most famous aristocratic residences in the region. Built in Gothic-Renaissance by Challant in 1480, it features square corner towers. In the courtyard it is possible to admire a stone fountain topped with a pomegranate in wrought iron. Frescoes in the portico which report scenes of daily life in the XVI century. In the salons and rooms there are superb paintings and antique pieces of furniture.
Castle Villa, situated in a strategic point, it was abandoned for a long period and plundered for its precious building materials. Today it features the ruins of two floors with massive stone walls and a moat that is still visible. In 1200 the building was sold by Count Thomas I of Savoy to Bosone II Challant, then it was ceded to to Godfrey I and Aimone III, thus Ebalo Great who, according to some sources, had the building renovated and expanded. In 1370 it was ransomed by Boniface and Giovanni of Challant and transformed from a military garrison into a residence. The perimeter was further strengthened in 1430, during the period when Catherine Challant and her sister Margaret were engaged in a long hereditary dispute. Later the castle was abandoned and used for the construction of the nearby fortress of Verrès.