Monday, February 11, 2013

Italy - Dora Baltea, Pasta, and Learning Italian

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Like pedaling through a 19th century painting. See Hudson River School.

41 miles - Sunday, October 2

“The Columbia Gorge doesn’t hold a candle, not even a match, to this!” Andy exclaimed. After living near Oregon and Washington’s famous river, the grand scale of the Aosta Valley takes our breath away.

We continue along the rushing Dora Baltea River: draining Monte Bianco, Monte Rosa, Matterhorn, and Paradiso mountain regions glaciers into one roaring river with cascading waterfalls entering the mix, continually from the steep valley walls. The flow is occasionally interrupted by hydroelectric dams, yet castles, the sweet smell of grapes lingering in harvested vineyards, and rock climbers scaling cliffs paint a fantastical scene.  All this while snow dusted rocky spires of the Grand Paradiso National Park crown the view. Andy couldn’t imagine a better environment for touring, enamored as he is with mountains and rock climbing. Surrounded by early morning haze, softening the rocky edges, the landscape was surreal, reminding me of Hudson River School paintings. Yet by lunchtime we reluctantly leave the gorge, at Ivrea, as if the magical landscape had been only a dream.

We confirm that a campground is open in Viverone and enjoy the suddenly flat farmland. Orchards and cornfields abound with a view of towns on neighboring hills. Red tile rooftops replace the slate common along the Dora Baltea, a marked change that is curious, but indicative of regional customs we’d experienced in other countries. By 1:30 we locate the campground and stay put; unable to tackle the miles required to the next place further east.

Apple harvest in northern Italy.

Learning Italian has been a pleasant surprise. Some words are variations on English. In other instances it’s the exact word in French or Spanish. Andy’s strong point is French. My high school Spanish is coming in handy. As we intend to travel widely in Italy over several weeks – I’m excited that we may communicate much better than other non-English countries. Andy studies our dictionary and copies a list of relevant words to look over in the evenings.

We explore a supermarket, amazed at the endless shapes and sizes of pasta. Each style uses a number system in addition to shapes. Tonight we try spaghettini #3. Every town has a pizzeria/crepe shop. Garlic drifts on the open windows of houses and is justifiably the aroma of Italy – which is a tease to a hungry biker. My uncle had mailed us some money; we’ll treat ourselves to a restaurant meal when it feels right.

The daylong heat and humidity finally breaks as we eat dinner. Our clothes, freshly washed and hung, get a second rinse.

1 comment:

  1. Italy is so beautiful! I look forward to the next few posts to read how it went for you.


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