Tall Mountain Peaks and Castles

It was very hard leaving Torino this morning. It is such a magnificent city in terms of architecture. In my opinion it has some of the grandeur of Rome and Venice but seems more like an authentic city where people live.

We rented a car to drive to Aosta in the mountains. Usually we rent through local car rental places such as Enterprise or Sixt. We have been scammed big time from renting from Auto Europe and particularly Hertz, but none of our go to places were in Torino for a price we could afford so we rented from Avis. It was quite a funny experience. Usually we get a lot of instructions on how to use the car and here the guy just drove up our Mini Cooper and wished us a happy day. We ended up contacting them several times: where was the AC, how do you put it into drive, and where was the key to lock it later.

The weather today was perfect and we had a beautiful view of the mountains as we drove north. Some were bare rocky summits reaching for the sky while others were covered with forest with little villages dotted high above. In the distance, snow covered mountain peaks glistened in the sunlight.

We stopped at a castle on the way called Fenis Castle. It’s a large fortified castle built of stone back in the 12th century. Our tour was in Italian, but it did not matter. Each room had a board with information in English. There were frescoes on many of the walls in astounding condition considering their age and old original wood work. We stopped in a local grocery store and although we did not speak Italian and the girl did not speak English, she made us a fresh ham and cheese sandwich.

We are staying in a rustic Alpine hotel in the mountains in Aosta. Our room has vaulted ceilings and Alpine decorations, but outside is an ultra modern spa with 3 or 4 pools.

We decided to walk into town which was a pleasant walk down hill through a series of twists and turns with stunning views of the mountains. Arriving at the restaurant was a surprise. It was located on a very pretty pedestrian only street with small cafes and pretty shops. Ristorante Osteria da Nando is a family run restaurant with delicious food. We dined outside and had a traditional meal of crepes filled with cheese and ham, pork chops with mustard, and a coffee chocolate cream dessert.

Throughout the meal people watching was perfect. There were weary hikers, families with babies, and a lot of dogs. One family even had a dog in their stroller and no baby at all, Next door to the restaurant was a pretty shop. From our table all I could see were owl tote bags and a trolley of handmade soaps which many people stopped to sniff. The shop played the same song over and over again and again throughout the meal. I decided to check it out and it was coming from exquisitely handmade music boxes.

We took a short walk down the street and came to a huge Roman arch. I thought it was fake and part of a special exhibit but David said it dated back to Roman times and the town has many Roman ruins,

Back at the hotel we sat outside to enjoy the view. I love to look up into the mountains at night and wonder who lives in those distant rural places by themselves. Sometimes I can see a single headlight moving on a distant road to an unknown destination. I thought that Turin was wonderful but sometimes after spending time in the city, a room with a view of the countryside is just what you need.

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