Little Saint Bernard Road (La strada del Piccolo San Bernardo)

Director: Andrea Alborno, Production: Andrea Alborno, Language: Italian/French, Italy, 2019, 25′, Rights: World excluding Italy San Marino and the Vatican and Switzerland

Little St Bernard Pass in French called Col du Petit Saint-Bernard in Italian Colle del Piccolo San Bernardo is a mountain pass in the Alps on the French Italy border. At 2,188 metres above sea level located between Savoie, France, and Aosta Valley, It’s widely recognized as one of the most spectacular mountain drives in the world. This documentary explores the history ancient and recent of the pass.

The Little Saint Bernard road is an alternative to the Mont Blanc tunnel as a way of travelling between Italy and France. Every year thousands of people pass through it but just a few have the good fortune to explore the historical and landscape aspects of this place which is so important for the history of humanity.

Little Saint Bernard brings beauty and is full of history, for all those people who wish to reach France or Italy during the summer. Travelling along this stripe of tarmac is a real pleasure for driving and alpine landscape lovers.
The link between two neighbouring countries, the Little Saint Bernard road has been the scene of a shameful and civil conflict during the second world war. At Traversette pass, just over the Saint Bernard Hospice, the ruins of a fort are there to testify useless sufferings. In 1940, after violent fightings between the alpine Italian and French troops, the French “Chasseurs Alpins”, unbeaten, find themselves forced to abandon the fort due to the armistice between the two countries.

At the summit the road cuts through a stone circle Col du Petit Saint-Bernard Cromlech, measuring 72 m (236 ft) in diameter. A standing stone once stood in the middle. From archaeological finds this is believed to date from the Iron Age, possibly being a ceremonial site of the Tarentaisian culture (c. 725 BC–450 BC). The stone circle was partly restored in the 19th century. Cromlech is a word that comes from ancient Breton. Crum means curve, curved line, circle, and Lech, instead, means stone, sacred stone, altar stone; so it is exactly a curve of sacred stones. the megalith circle also has a popular name – “Concert d’Hannibal” or “Cercle d’Hannibal”, but in reality Hannibal has never passed through Aosta Valley, the archaeologists tell us. So the name comes from the fact that they tended to attribute all these constructions to some important character. Cromlech is currently made up of just under 50 stones, but originally they had to be a little more. At the beginning of the 900s, an entrepreneur moved some of them, a road was built, then it was imposed to bring the stones back but not all are in the original position, at least we don’t have a sure proof.


Franco Cuaz, Mont Blanc Tunnel former director

Eddy Ottoz, Olympic Champion and enthusiast about the Little Saint Bernard

Doctor Jean-Luc Penna, doctor of medicine and former mayor of Séez

Raphael Duchoud, canon of the Great Saint Bernard Hospice

Paola Soffranio, curator of the Chanousia alpine garden at Little Saint Bernard.

Guido Cossard, archaeoastronomer

Alessandra Armirotti, archaeologist of the Superintendence for activities and cultural heritage of the Autonomous Region of Aosta Valley