Aosta ItalySeptember 19, 2016 in Italy
I've really been looking forward to getting to Italy to visit my parents' birth place, catch up with relatives that I've only ever met once before (previous trip with Anne) and the ability to speak the local language - well a bastardised English version anyway. I won't see the relatives and mum and dad's old stomping grounds until I get to Asti in Piedmont, but can't wait to have a conversation, without having to resort to mime, even if it is with a total stranger.
Aosta really took me by surprise. I stayed in a cheap (because it isn't ski season yet) hotel about 15 minutes walk from the centre and the "old town". It's a lot bigger than I thought and it's bilingual French/Italian. Most of the town signage is in both languages and streets often have straight out French names. There is even a lift from the town that takes you to close-by ski slopes. The old town was just fabulous with, lucky me, lots of (American) tourists visiting. I got to speak Italian (even when people wanted to talk in English!!!). I'm sure they wondered why a simple request for a hot chocolate turned into a 1/2 hour conversation about what a great day it was. Aosta has beautiful buildings (some back to the middle ages), the obligatory huge piazza & large Cathedral and the best gelato I'd eaten in 10 years (eg. last time I was in Italy). The streets weren't too busy so it was a safer introduction to some of the craziest drivers and riders in Europe.
I also love Italy's ability to meld old and new together in a very practical way. There are 3 photos below of 1.an APM (that's an automatic pizza machine for the uninitiated) 2. a condom vending machine and 3. the local Aosta Cathedral. The two vending machines were almost next to each other on the same building wall which, in turn, was a very close walk to the Cathedral. It was explained to me that this was the practical dating solution for young un-married catholics. With 1 you both got a a cheap meal. With 2 you both got the dessert that you both wanted but couldn't ask for at home, and with 3 you got the immediate forgiveness needed to have an other date next weekend!!!!!
Next stop Alessandria. I need to fast for at least one day before I go stay with relatives - boy do Italians like to feed you 🐷Read more