The Aosta Valley is Italy's smallest region, high in the Alps bordering France and Switzerland.
Its neighbouring Italian region is Piedmont, with which it shares a love of rich meaty stews and heavy use of cream and butter in many dishes, probably reflecting the closeness to France. Being landlocked, very little fish is traditionally eaten, and as in other mountain regions dried and cured meat is very popular as a way of storing food up for the harsh winters.
One regional speciality is Lardo Di Arnaz DOP, which is cured pig fat, salted and covered with rosemary then air dried. Once mature, it is sliced thinly as an antipasto or used as a cooking ingredient. Another local highlight is Mutecca, the dried meat of mountain goats which is served in thin slices like prosciutto.
A variety of cheeses are widely made in Valle d'Aosta, with the most well known example being Fontina, produced only in the region and only in summer. Fontina is a mild semi-soft cheese, high in fat, and good eaten with fruit or famously used in a cheese fondue.
Despite its altitude and terrain, a temperate local micro-climate allows vines to be grown up to 1,200m on the mountainside, and over 20 recognised wine varieties are produced. Many vineyard owners have joined forces to set up the Aosta Valley Wine Trail, a pre-planned route which helps visitors to visit many vineyards and dairy farms, tasting the best of the wine and cheese along the way.