The town's name derives for some historians from "bruscia" (bush), whilst for others from the dialectal words "brussei" (bush) or "Brusson" (blueberry). There is still another current of thought that claim the origins of the name, from the term "bruxeum" (gold fields), due to the presence of mines in the area. It is situated in the middle of Val d'Ayas at over 1300 meters above sea level, between the towns of Ayas and Challand-Saint-Anselme, surrounded by woods and pastures. The municipal area features a mild climate and is composed of different districts: the main center, called Trois Villages, is formed by the three villages of Fontaine, Pilaz and Pasquier. The area is rich of water springs and lakes between the most beautiful in the whole region. In Winter the landscape features several trails for Nordic skiing and is one of the most famous cross-country rings in Val d'Aosta, where every year one of the World Cup competitions takes place.
The area was inhabited by Salassi, a Celt population, that already exploited the mines in the vicinity of Lake Frudière, that were later defeated by the Romans. In 515 the territory was ceded by King Sigismund of Burgundy to the Abbey of Saint Maurice of Aguane in Valais with several other properties, including the fief of Graines which included the town of Gressoney-Saint-Jean, Gressoney-La Trinité, Ayas, Brusson and Challand-Saint-Anselme. In this context the Graines Castle was built in a strategic location. The monks dominated for a long time on these lands, until the XIII century, when the Challant granted it in exchange of an annuity. In the XVII century, the town housed a customs with the presence of officers, known as the Soldats du Sel. From 1841, with the extinction of the family Challant, the castle became the property of the Passerin d'Entreves, until in 1947 it was bought by the community.
Not to miss:
The Graines Castle, according to legend it was built around the XI century. Situated on a cliff, at the entrance of the Valley of Freud, it controlled access to the Valley Gressoney and the entire Valley Ayas. Of the ancient building remain only a square tower and a chapel with a semicircular apse, the impression is of great simplicity and ease.
The Parish Church of San Maurizio was built in 1872 in place of a previous building of the XV century, it features a chapel and it is connected to the Bell Tower. The current structure has one major nave and two aisles and features four wooden altars and a choir with precious wood carved decorations, and a large painting of Charles Morgari, representing San Maurizio which is located in the sanctuary and replaces a previous painting destroyed by fire in 1927.
The Chapel of St. Valentine in San Valentino.
The Chapel of Saints Philip and James in Arcesaz.
The Chapel of Saints James and Philip in Curien.
The Chapel of San Lorenzo in Estoul.
The Chapel of Our Lady of the Snows in Extrepieraz.
The Chapel of St. Matthew and St. John in Fènilliaz.
The Chapel of Our Lady del Carmine in Fontaine.
The Chapel of Santa Margherita in Graines.
The Chapel of St. Grato in La Croix.
The Chapel of St. Anthony of Padua in La Pila.
The Chapel of St. Rocco and St. Mary Ausiliatrice in Pasquier.
The Chapel of St. Anne and St. John the Baptist in La Servatius.
The Chapels of Santa Maria Assunta and San Pantaleone in Vollon.