The Aosta Valley is an alpine region in north-west Italy that is characterized by a high level of naturalness, with extensive uninhabited areas that are distant from artificial sound sources. The Aosta Valley Regional Environmental Protection Agency (ARPA-VdA) has been particularly sensitive to the preservation of the soundscape, which is considered an integral part of the landscape, since the laws on noise pollution were first introduced. The nature of the ski areas in the Aosta mountains, which undergoes changes throughout the year, is surely of great importance, especially during the winter season, when the number of visitors is particularly high. In fact, during the winter, the sounds of nature are replaced by those produced by recreation and sports activities. Mountain and snow tourism, which are developed in sensitive environmental contexts in the Aosta Valley, are sectors of immense social and economic importance. Much of this tourism takes place in ski resorts. Three mountain areas with different characteristics, in terms of attendance and recreational/sport activities, have been examined in this paper, as part of a collaboration between ARPA-VdA and the Politecnico di Torino. Acoustic measurements were performed in order to identify the seasonal variations of sound emissions from both natural and anthropic sound sources. In addition to the standard environmental acoustic descriptors foreseen by European legislation (LAeq
, etc.), the harmonica (IH
) index, which provides a quantitative evaluation of the acoustic quality on a zero to ten numerical scale, was used to qualify the acoustic climate of the three areas. The results presented in the paper provide useful information on a relevant subject—the preservation of the acoustic quality of a mountain area of touristic importance—which has been scarcely investigated so far.
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