A week in the north; a week in Tuscany.... Woo Hoo!
So it has been really lovely here in the north of Italy in the mountains. It was nice to actually get away from the business of where we were to just relax. Yesterday when we got here I took a nap while David went out to shoot some photos. I know he has been posting here. Later in the evening we went to dinner in a town nearby - ate some lovely polenta and pizza. There are not many tourists here as this is a ski area and so we are here off-season. So the restaurant was empty but where we are staying they are getting ready for a festival this weekend- a cowboy festival with animals and such. But we won't be here for that. The area reminds me a bit of the Adirondacks and lakes up there, they have rafting and such.
Well we are off for a walk and David wants me to end here. Later we head back to Biela. Till later...
More Bonda, more art
It is Sunday, and we arrived last evening here in Tuscany. But I wanted to share a bunch of photos of that little gem of a hilltop village, in Piemonte near Biella, called Bonda. This is an old cluster of homes and buildings restored with a lot of art built into, on and around the structures and grounds. Enjoy! — David
Day 5 in Italy- Strona and Family
Later back to Il Talucco for another great dinner by Nico. We decided to just stay here tonight since it has become like home to us. And we have an early start tomorrow to go to Tuscany. Although I am excited to go to Tuscany I will really miss being here in Piemonte with all these wonderful friends and family we have made. We have been so welcomed and nurtured by all the Aimone clan that we have met it is truly amazing. We have made friends and connections where before there was none. David has been able to connect with his father’s roots and be in places where his ancestors lived. We will miss everyone here and hope to come back again as well as hope to have those from Italy visit us in the US. Everyone is welcome to visit with us. Special hugs go out to Irene and Valentina. You will stay in our thoughts.
Till later in Tuscany. Salut to all.
A few odds and ends on day four
First, our car. It is a basic, simple, yet incredibly cool manual shift Fiat 500, power white! All the comforts of home and two good size suitcases -- one in the "boot" and one in the back seat. Fits through those spots where the main road gets squeezed to an alleyway by those rude 800 year old stone houses....
Second, the meals here have been wonderful (surprise surprise!). On monday, tuesday and wednesday nights, we ate with other people.. Tonight, Ellen and I had our first alone meal as a couple in an alpine ski town called Sesia Alagna. The pizza was great with prosciutto, artichokes, tomatoes, mushrooms,, olives and mozzarella. But I've never had polenta like that before. The waitress said it was the local style, with lots of local cheese in it. It was amazing. That, with the pizza, a salad, glass of local wine and beer, a shared tiramisu dessert, and two glasses of Moscato: 42 euros ($53 US) total, including everything. The tiramisu was also different. It came out as a pot with creme custard in it, and a shot of espresso coffee. You pour the espresso in the creme, stir it and dipped the cookie into the mixture. Yum!
The internet is slowing to a crawl again here, so the rest of my updates will have to wait until another time.
Thanks for looking!
Day 3 & 4 in Italy — Lago D'orta; dinner at Il Talucco; and off to the mountains for one night...
So yesterday was Wednesday I think and I want to catch everyone up. Now it is thursday but will fill you all in. Wednesday afternoon, after we lounged around at Il Talucco, we went with another set up David's FB friends for a trip to Lago D'Orto. They are Lisa and Ale- Lisa is from California and is married to Ale who is from Italy. We went in their little Citron to the lake where you take a water taxi first to a little island and then across the island to the village of Orta San Guilo. It has been wonderful meeting all these new friends and look forward to seeing them again. The island at Lago D'Orta is a monastic sanctuary- a little loop around brings you all the way around. Alex was a great guide and shared that this was a leper colony in the past but now is a retreat center and also they are working on building up the tourist angle.
Then we went across to San Guilo- a lovely little village with very Italian feeling. We walked around- sat at an outdoor cafe in the square- had caffe, wine sprits, gelato and good conversation. David had a local beer which was very good. I bought some interesting food items at a little grocer, some pretty colored bow-tie noodles, all different, dried mushrooms, risotto and pesto. We will see if they get eaten by us before I return to the US. It may be difficult to resist.
Then last night we had the most wonderful dinner party. We were 8 in all and had dinner with all at Il Talucco. Thanks to Valentina and Nico the meal was terrific and lively. I think we were either in the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun" or "Eat, Pray, Love." Present at the dinner were Irene and her mother Erica, Lisa and Ale, David and I of course, and then Valentina's mother Teresa — and occasionally Valentina in between serving. The language was Italian- english mix and very lively with much wine, grappa and food. Also, some very interested and lively discussions over the wine and grappa. There were many different flavors of Grappa that Valentina brought out for us all to try. Whew- too much Grappa last night. I can't begin to describe it all but is was just a wonderful evening. Grappa with basil, with rose hips, and many others.
Today David and I drove up to the mountains after first going into Biella and taking the funicular up to the old city. Again, so many old and beautiful buildings, courtyards and terraces. I told David to do a series of photographs on courtyards and terraces. We continued driving north and stopped at Valera which also has a Sacrat Mount that David wanted to stop at. We took another funicular up that mountain. Now we are Compertogno- staying for just one night at a local riverside lodge so that we could come up to the mountains. I know David will be posting many photos for you to enjoy. Tomorrow we return to Biela and stay one more night with our new family before heading to Tuscany on Saturday. Till another time....
On Tuesday, even though it was cloudy and rainy we went out on our own after a late breakfast, sleeping till 9:30. We went to the Sanctuary of Oropo. It is about 1/2 hour drive up the mountain. There is a large sanctuary with Basicllica and also 12 chapels that are situated all over for walking on the hill. We walked all over - up and down. Very beautiful - Most of the chapels also built around 1200, all have carved statues in them symbolizing religious stories. There were also cows grazing complete with cow bells that sang to us most of the time.
After that we drove back into Biela and walked about for an hour or so just to get the feel of it. We will go back for a longer visit later this week. In the evening we had been invited to go to dinner at the home of Irene Aimone and her family. She and David have been corresponding for several years. They are pretty sure that they are also related but have been unable to find the connection. We went to the home of her family and had dinner with her parents, Erica and Claudio and she and her brother Andre. They all live together.
The parents spoke no English but Irene can manage so there was a lot of translating back and forth. A very lovely family and they took the time to prepare a meal with authentic food of Piedmonte. So there was to start, stuffed onions and this cheese log with herbs, next was a cheese risotto, third course was bagna calda with vegetables. Dessert was stuffed peach halves, then came coffee and grapa. Again also wine throughout. Wow, I actually ate most of it. Delicious but really a lot of rich food. It was a lovely evening and it was great to go to a private home for dinner with a family that lives here. We were also told that most people from this region stay close to home. Both of the children are in their 30’s but since neither are married they still live at home and even if they do they probably do not move far.
So I have caught up now. It is Wednesday morning as I finish this entry and we have just finished again a late breakfast. We are here this morning for a bit and later are going to a lake about an hour away with another of David’s FB connections. This couple is part American so the communication will be much easier. It is so lovely here at Il Tallucca I could just stay here all the time.
Until next time, hope all of you are well at home.
PS..... I will post more photos soon.... — David
So we now have been here two nights and seem to have really settled in. On Monday afternoon we spent a really lovely couple of hours with the mother of our host. They all live here in this big home, but Teresa- the mother lives in an attached home by herself. She is originally from France but has lived here since marrying her husband in the 50’s. Speaks English fairly well. David and she took out the family trees and found how they are related. So her daughter Valentina who owns the B&B and David are 8th cousins. After chatting she wanted us to come see her home. Her home is amazing, lovely big and almost like a museum. Her husband was an art collector so there are rooms and rooms of paintings, sculptures, etc. There are also 4 frescos on the walls that her husband discovered many years ago and removed the outer paint and restored them- hence the feeling that it is a museum.
Coming to Europe always reminds me how very young the US is and that most things we will see here are older than our country. The frescoes were probably painted about 1600 or so. She also had letters from about 1200 that were there and a Bible in Latin also quite ancient.
Later that evening we were taken out for dinner to Biella by one of David’s photography FB friends, Angela and her husband Max. First they brought us to where they live- they live in a renovated castle in Valdengo. It is a large castle that has been bought and made into apartments. Not all filled- they told us there were some for rent if we were interested. Dinner at a restaurant in Biella- antipasto and risotto with of course plenty of wine. Later we went to see the town of Candelo- where there is a section that is walled in- but it is a place where the village would stock food in the walled warehouse in case of attack.
David & Ellen Aimone
Latest flickr photos