Into Mountainous Valle d’Aosta
On Thursday, the bus pulled away from a 95 degree day in Milano and headed into increasingly blustery skies in the Valle d’Aosta at the far northwest of Italy. (Find it on the map here.) I shot a few crude images through the dirty, tinted bus window as we rolled along, watching the scenery and the weather change. We went from the corn fields surrounding Milano, to castles and mountainside vineyards.
Today, two days later, on my return trip home from Cogne, the weather had changed and I sat on the north side of the bus to be out of the heat of the sun.
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Some notes from my journal entries to-and-from:
22 Luglio, 1:00
Milano – Lampugnano. (One of the metro stops on the red line and a major bus transfer point).
Heading west to Aosta and Cogne to spend a couple of days with Ewa and Piotr. They were my first new friends here and I will say my goodbyes to them as they’re spending this month in the mountains.
The bus has just pulled away from the station.
From Aosta, I could throw a rock north into Switzerland or west into France. I could pitch it to the top of Mont Blanc. Great to have this opportunity to see another spot in Italy, one of its mountainous regions. This is part of my “Say Yes!” program: say “yes” to what presents itself.
(Late in the ride, this is the closest I got to a view of Mont Blanc, obscured by clouds.)
As we head deeper into the Valle d’Aosta, the proximity to Switzerland is apparent. The architecture has changed. Rooftops bear flat, gray slate instead of red tile.
(This very old rooftop has lost its distinctive fish-scale pattern as the slate has broken up.)
The mountains are steep at both north and south. Vineyards face southwest on steep slopes.
Castles sit atop high promontories. Lettering has changed to old gothic. I’m sure the language is different, too. The rivers are gray-green and opaque. (Language is the “secret, magic decoder ring” to other worlds.)
Switch buses and then continue on to Cogne, (pronounced CONE-nyay) 50 minutes south, into the mountains. Signs are in Italian and/or French. Houses look like Americans’ stereotypical view of Swiss chalets, complete with decorations of gnomes and trolls. This is a different italy. Imagine how UNlike it is to Napoli and Sicilia!
This is a deep, narrow valley. Houses and farm fields climb the slopes to the north and south of town. An alpine community, certainly.
I think of their having united as one Republic less than 100 years ago (1946). About like binding New York City with Montana: separate worlds without commonality.
(“This way to beds in Europe.” Are Holiday Inns everywhere?)