Home italy Travel To Saint Vincent, Italy, For Poker, Hot Springs, And A Hot Time

Travel To Saint Vincent, Italy, For Poker, Hot Springs, And A Hot Time

written by M.E. Evans November 13, 2015

I’ve traveled all over Italy, from Brescia to Sicily and I’m still somehow amazed by the diversity and beauty of such a teeny-tiny country (Italy is smaller than some US states). There are a lot of things that I love about Italy that might surprise you. Since I’ve been to so many places, I’ve decided it would be fun to write little mini guides for as many cities as I can manage. 

I’m going to kick it off in Saint Vincent. Why? Because it’s north and I’m going to slowly make my way from the top to the bottom of the fabulous Italian boot. Plus, the north is the area that I’ve explored the least but want to explore the most. All of these crazy braggarts keep telling me about how their people “stand in lines and stuff” in some parts of the north so I’d like to see this in real life, naturally. 

 Saint Vincent is located in North-West Italy. It’s in that part of Italy that kind of resembles Switzerland; it’s green in the summer, beautiful, and clean (and the people have interesting mixed accents). The city has unique weather since it rests nestled in a valley and has its own little “microclimate” with coolish summers and mild winters compared to the surrounding areas.

The location makes it a super rad city to visit, rain or shine. It’s far north, so during the summer months it’s less hot than say, scalding Florence, but in the winter it’s “colder than a witches’ tit,” as my mom would so eloquently say (she has a way with words). During the winter this region gets snow and just 1640 meters from Saint Vincent you can find the Col de Joux ski resort, making the cooler months an especially fun time to visit.

Aside from skiing, there’s also the “Grolle d’Oro” film awards at the end of October, and famous hot springs! Who doesn’t love hot springs when it’s crisp out? When I was a teenager in Utah, I’d drive for four hours north to Idaho to go to the hot springs because I was weird, but also adventurous. Seriously, it was the highlight of being 16-year-old me (stop judging). Anyway, I love hot springs, it’s good for your skin with all the minerals, and it feels less toxic and pornish than a Jacuzzi. Seriously, who wants to sit in a Jacuzzi with strangers? Nobody, that’s who. 

Just imagine it: fall leaves, a thermal bath, a nice dinner with some wine, followed by cocktails and gambling. James Bond-style, my friends. There is a huge casino in Saint Vincent that is pretty famous, the Casino De La Vallee, and there really is a big poker tournament organized by PokerStars there and, well, seriously? Italians, poker, Italy? Sounds like a spy movie and I’m totally IN. Plus, it totally sounds like your cup of tea, too, guys (gremlins). I’ve recently started watching poker tournaments on TV which is a little like participating in an anthropology experiment because the players on TV are weird, like “maybe I eat people,” weird. And there’s always some dude wearing sunglasses in the dim casino and I’m always like, “Oh! A singer!” but he’s not a singer, he’s just a gambler being very sneaky (I realize that I shouldn’t associate men in sunglasses with talented blind performers). The poker in Italy is probably way cooler than TV poker though, guys. Looks kind of swanky, honestly. 

After your night at the casino, you can head on over to the church, the Chiesa Parrocchiale di San Vincenzo. It’s a really unique church, built on top of Roman ruins dating back to 300-A.D. The church was built in the Romanesque style, and the frescoes inside date back to the 1400s. It’s one of those, “I can’t believe it’s this old” places you have to see if you’re in the region. You can totally Instagram it and be like, “Look, mom, I was not gambling because I was too busy taking beautiful pictures of majestic churches.” Honestly, everyone wins.  

Image Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/57/11CastelloDiSaintPierre.jpg 

While you’re there, or on your way out of town, stop at Les Saveurs d’Antan, a famous gift shop that I haven’t been to but has received a ton of great reviews from Italians who are picky about their products. The little shop carries grappa, cheese, and various other regional specialties that you probably want to take home in bulk (as usual). If you’re flying internationally remember to put any food items or liquids in your checked bags. 

Saint Vincent is the kind of place that would be great to visit if you’re looking for somewhere new to go or if you want to take my advice and do an Off The Beaten Path, trip around Italy. If you’re crazy/bold enough to rent a car and make small cities and weird adventures a big part of your trip, Saint Vincent will fit right into your itinerary. It’s also kind of a fun place for a romantic weekend, a bachelor or bachelorette party, or just a place to take your friends to create embarrassing and fun memories. It’s definitely top ten on my bucket list for one of these next few winters. Francesco can’t snowboard or anything though so I’ll have to get him and Oliver a sled and matching puffy coats. Can’t wait! 

Have you been to Saint Vincent or are you currently living nearby? In the comments below let me know if there are more things I should add to my “to do” list! Your comments are the best so let the other readers know what they’re missing out on!

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Mani (A New Life Wandering) November 13, 2015 at 8:23 pm

I’m excited about this new idea of yours about reviewing cities in Italy. This place sounds pretty awesome. Plus our cat’s name is Saint Vincent, Vincy for short. I have been fantasizing so much about going to Italy, and I’d definitely like to visit the North. I’m more of a mountain gal than beach gal.
Also, based on what you said in the previous paragraph, I feel like when you said ” but in the winter it’s “colder than a witches’ tit,” and you meant: ” but in the winter it’s NOT “colder than a witches’ tit,” . Am I wrong?

Dave Lester November 14, 2015 at 1:55 am

Great photos, and I appreciate your enthusiasm.

Marcello November 16, 2015 at 5:40 am

Near Saint Vincent there’s a town named Cervinia where you can go skiing even in summer, in a glacier nearby, if you have no problems with high altitude (the glacier is at 3500 m). I usually go there in June or early July, it’s not so crowded as in winter. Plus, many restaurants are owned and managed by southern Italians, so you get the Alpine panoramas, the skiing, the northern efficiency and the southern excellent food.

P.S.: I’m a northern Italian, maybe sometimes we do sound like braggarts, however, I can assure you that most of us would never ever trade Italy for Switzerland, and not even our fellow, “loud” Southerners for the Swiss. Faster postal and train services are not enough to make me prefer Basel to Rome, Capri or Positano. I think it’s fair to pay a price for living in the most aesthetically beautiful country in the world.

Mrwright November 22, 2015 at 6:15 pm

I think you have missed the chance to describe how peculiar the Aosta Valley is in comparison with the rest of Italy, unless you wanted to talk only about Saint Vincent.

Languages: As you may have noticed in the town, Aosta valley has an incredible array of linguistic nuances. Officially they speak Italian and (for official purposes) French, but the local language, patois valdotaine, is a variety of Franco-Provencal. The nearby villages of Gressoney Saint Jean, Gressoney La Trinite’ and Issime are inhabited by the Walser people, a German population which speak töitschu, a very archaic variety of Swiss German ( and they have very picturesque wooden houses and traditional costumes and bonnets).

Nature: the Aosta Valley is home to three of the top ten highest peaks of the Alps/Europe. Monte Bianco/Mont Blanc in Courmayeur, Monte Rosa and Cervino/Matternhorn. This makes it the coldest (even compared to other alpine regions like Suedtirol or Trentino) and the least densely populated Italian region. This allows for a vast range of national parks and ski resorts. Saint Vincent is close to major parks like the Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso, home to one of the largest populations of ibexes, chamois, wolves, eagles,etc in Europe.

Cuisine: so intense is the cold that the cuisine of Aosta Valley is very adapted to the climate, robust, earthy and no frills. Specialties found nowhere else in Italy are the caffe’ alla valdostana (a coffee based drink made with espresso, grappa, various citruses, liqueurs and spices served in a grolla, a multi-spouted, and often ornately carved, wooden bowl with a small lid), cotoletta alla valdostana, think traditional cotoletta with added layers of prosciutto and fontina cheese, and other dishes that it shares with neighbouring Savoie and Valais (Tartiflette, fondue, carbonade).

Sorry for the long post, but I feel that the Aosta Valley is unfairly under-represented in Italian and foreign media alike.

Ps. Italy is more than 116,000 sq miles , making it bigger than Arizona and slightly smaller than New Mexico, so it’s actually bigger than most US states, bar Alaska, Texas, California and New Mexico.

First Time On Surviving In Italy? | Living In Italy.Moving To Italy. Loving In Italy. Laughing In Italy. December 14, 2015 at 7:13 pm

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Ron October 2, 2016 at 12:10 am

Interesting !


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