By far the smallest Italian region, it lies on the border with France and Switzerland. The area is enclosed in a horseshoe shape by the Valais and Cottian Alps. Viticulture was practised long before the dawn of time by the indigenous population of the Salassi. In 25 BC, the Romans founded the fortress "Augusta Praetoria" (today's capital Aosta) and controlled the Alpine passes over the Small and Great St. Bernard from here. They also brought their wine culture with them. After the Romans, the Benedictines and Cistercians came and painstakingly drove the terraces into the rocky slopes. In the middle of the 20th century, the highest vineyards were to be abandoned, which was prevented by the initiative of Abbé Alexandre Bougeat (1916-1972). From the 9th century onwards, the Aosta Valley repeatedly came under French influence as part of the two former kingdoms of Burgundy and Savoy. The bilingualism that still exists today, which also appears on the bottle labels of the wines, dates from this period.