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Controversy surrounds the etymological origin of the name; the most likely interpretation appears to be that it derives from "adiacium", namely the herd's meeting place. In fact, a specific built-up area does not correspond to the name "Ayas". There are 35 villages in the wide and sunny basin, crowned in the north by the Monte Rosa bastion, and each one has maintained its traditional mountain appearance. Each village preserves its bakery, mill and school as well as the "rascards" old buildings with wooden rafters, approximately square-shaped, superimposed and securely fitted on mushroom-shaped stone pillars. Ayas offers winter sports lovers one of the largest skiing resorts: from sunny Antagnod, the administrative centre for Ayas, winding around the Monte Rosa massif, the slopes extend to Gressoney and Valsesia.