A few Saturdays ago we went to a national park here in Italy called Gran Paradiso. It is a mountain in the Graian Alps. Sharing its beauty with France, the park on the other side of the border is called Parc national de la Vanoise (Vanoise National Park). Unlike national parks in the U.S., we did not have to pay an entrance fee, which was a nice little surprise. Gran Paradiso is split into five different valleys. We focused on the Orco Valley for this trip. One of the villages that connects to the Orco Valley is called Ceresole Reale. As we entered this little village, we were greeted with this sight…
One of the most famous lakes here in northern Italy is Lago di Como (Lake Como). It is the third largest lake in Italy (after lago di Garda and lago di Maggiore). We have heard from several people how beautiful and relaxing it can be here at this Y-shaped lake. Therefore, we decided to make a day trip here with Zoey!
Below shows where we are in respect to where lago di Como is. The second picture shows the two villages we explored (Bellagio and Varenna).
So this week has been a little crazy, our air shipment has finally arrived. However, when you have your clothing in boxes for over a month and a half, guess what they smell like? That’s right, cardboard! You have probably guessed what’s been keeping me entertained this week – laundry.
Doing laundry without a dryer is a very interesting process. It’s a good thing that we have several closets that we can hang clothing, otherwise washing would be an even longer process. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s going fast by any means. I can’t even begin to tell you how many loads of laundry I’ve done so and I’m not even done yet! Oh well! Here is what we did last weekend. 🙂
Saturday, 12 March 2016:
Nick found a couple of beautiful spots to visit and enjoy on this beautiful day. We first drove around Avigliana in northern Turin, which holds the ruins of the Avigliana Castle. After being taken over twice and rebuilt in the 17th century, this castle was never to be rebuilt again. Now it lies in ruins in this small town and makes for an interesting attraction.
We made the mistake of walking down a path that we thought led up to the castle, but was stopped by a local and we were told there is no entrance to the castle. We were actually walking up his private property, which we had no idea about…oops! He was kind though, and it turned out fine.
Our next stop on this beautiful day was…
.Il Lago Piccolo (The Small Lake)
We packed a lunch beforehand and ate near this little lake. Once we were done, we decided to walk on a little nature trail. When we started our walk, we both heard something. I stopped, and Nick wanted to continue. I asked Nick, ‘what is that sound?’ Just like a scene from the movie, we both looked up to see…
…a swarm of bees!! There was a tree that was filled (when I say filled, I mean filled!) of bees! At least a hundred of them buzzing about.
I panicked, and jetted out of there as soon as I could without looking too ridiculous (it’s a public place after all!). Now, some of you may know I have a bee phobia. Pretty bad too. Nick has actually had a couple of talks with me about running away from bees and being near a road… 🙂 . Obviously, I wouldn’t intentionally run into the road, but I can see why he would need to say that. Anyway…back to Italy!
We walked on this pretty, albeit a bit muddy, path for a bit and decided to turn around. Nick grabbed the video above at this time while I watched from a distance. I was surprised of how many people were just walking underneath this tree oblivious to the swarm of bees above. However, they probably didn’t even care because in reality the bees were having a grand old time getting all that pollen out of those little flowers. Next we went off to…
Il Lago Grande (The Big Lake)
It lives up to its name pretty well. On this lake, the enormous Alps can easily be spotted and are amazing to look at. Whenever I look at them, I become a little intimated. I keep thinking how small I am compared to the gigantic mountains.
When we want to go kayaking, this is the lake that we will definitely use. The water is peaceful and so very blue. You will hear some crazy Italian ducks quacking about, but they stay pretty close to the edge of the water. They’re probably waiting for someone to throw some bread over. Since they were hanging around near a restaurant, I bet they get delicious bread, at least compared to what the U.S. ducks get ;). We could have walked longer, the sun felt so nice, but we had one more stop to go before calling it a day. Do you see the little red circle at the top of the hill in the picture below? That’s where we headed to next – Sacra di San Michele.
Sacra di San Michele
The drive up to this church was just like driving up a mountain in a national park – curvy, steep, and extremely narrow. I question if the road is actually two lanes but everyone squeezed two cars through. At least the views off the side were beautiful. When we finally reached the top, we were both a little confused. Yes, we were closer to this beautiful 1000 year old church, but somehow it still seemed farther away than what we thought it would be.
We quickly figured out that we had to climb up a hill to reach the church. After this climb, we came to realize that our workout wasn’t done! Inside this beautiful and big church, there were many, many stairs to climb. At one point it was kind of laughable because our legs were actually becoming tried!
Beautiful inside and out!
Here we are at the top of Sacra di San Michele with the Alps behind us – those mountains are everywhere 😉
Sunday, 13 March 2016:
Sunday was more of an organizing type of day during the morning. Then, we Skyped with some friends, which is always nice :). A few girlfriends and I have a little book club that we started last year. What could be better than friends, reading, and having discussions about books? This time we read The Time Traveler’s Wife and had a very interesting discussion.
Afterward, we had to update our cell phone plans and Nick searched the city for a store open on Sunday to do it.
*Fun Fact* Did you know that when you want change your phone plan or update information, you need to present your passport (at least us foreigners do)? Some places ask for a specific ID card that we are in the process of getting here, but some places specifically ask for your passports.
As we walked around a little (since it wasn’t too cold of a night) we noticed music and lights coming from a certain direction. We learned that there’s a place where food trucks and other food vendors come together in one area and sell all kinds of yummies. It reminded of the Food Trucks at the SoWa Markets in South Boston.
The second picture above is actually a food truck for dogs! It’s so nice that the dogs can eat here too if they want (and well, if their owner wants them to) 🙂 . If you look at the fourth picture, there is a food vendor inside an egg-shaped contraption, crazy. It really shouldn’t amaze me that there’s a place like this here, but it kind of does.
We ended up buying these little grilled (but really fried) cheese sandwiches made with fresh mozzarella. Whatever they were, they tasted delicious!