Goodbye Vallee D’Aosta. Last night’s hotel Clara was right on the border so we crossed into the region of Piemonte immediately we set off this morning. It was a lazy 22km walk along a pleasant footpath which took us around the vineyards. In this area the vines are supported on pergolas which are held up by “topie”columns. My guidebook explains that the topie retain heat to protect the vines during the cold Alpine nights. You see these topie everywhere even where there are no vines.
As today was a lazy day, we stopped in a cafe which was part of a small sports facility in Montestrutto. The lady kindly squeezed half a dozen oranges for us. Is there anything better than fresh orange juice when you’re hot and sweaty?
We also stopped in Borgofranco d’Ivrea for a coffee flavoured sugary syrup mess which was well wide of the mark but the cafe was right in the village centre by the elaborately painted church. And it had a working pinball machine.
The path continued into some woods and came out at the day’s glacial showpiece, Lake Pistono, formed at the end of the last ice age, 15,000 years ago. We ate lunch in a restaurant overlooking the lake; it was a bit touristy of course but Tibetan pray flags were flapping in the wind and Paul and I both chose the vegetarian meal which was delicious. I have a special feeling for Tibet which I visited in 1987. As I looked at these prayer flags my mind drifted back to a set of prayer flags I hung on the Potala Palace with thousands of others.
Behind us the young children of the owner were playing on the football table. The boy was a lot better than his little sister who had to be helped by Dad between serving meals. Even at such a young age you could see in this young boy the defensive mentality of the Italian game; one hand always on the goalkeeper or full backs. I have seen some great Italian teams at Stamford Bridge over the years. My favourite game was the Champions League 2012 match against Napoli. One moment Chelsea led then Napoli equalised and it went to extra time. The atmosphere was electric. The noise from the away end was deafening but we won.
Ivrea is a nice town full of pavement cafes and bars. There is a lot of fun in the air. Many people drive tiny Italian cars which just about fit through the narrow roads in the villages. We are staying at the Hotel Luca which is economical and friendly.
The topie supporting the vines
A castle on top of a hill by Lake Pistono