Bruno, May 2007

We had less than 10 days to get ready for Christine's summer tax exile, and we also had guests to entertain. A busy time in prospect for us all!

Dennis and Antonia

Our first set of visitors were Dennis and Antonia. It was Antonia's first visit to this part of Piemonte, so we started with all the usual places.

Here are Dennis and Antonia standing in front of the Bollente, recently restored

The newly restored fountain of the Bollente

And here are the remains of the aqueduct which used to being drinking water to the Roman city.

Aqueduct remains Acqui Terme

The weather doesn't look very good, but actually, it was just winding itself up to burn off the morning haze. You can get an idea of how strong the sun was from the shadows in this shot of them sitting by the pool.

Sitting by the pool

And here they are in front of the modern (no doubt fascist era) fountain; you can see the sky beginning to clear. As I write, forecastfox tells me the temperature in Bruno at 7am is 20 degrees.

Acqui Terme - Modern Baths

Here are Dennis and his mother in front of the Addolorata
Acqui Terme - Addolorata

Serge and Isabelle

Next to arrive were Serge and Isabelle. Because of their midday arrival at Linate, we decided to have a picnic beside Lake Maggiore.

NE Panorama from Belgirate

Here is the panorama to the South East
Belgirate - SE Panorama

Next day we took the train to Asti, for lunch at MHasta. As ever, fantastic, the highligt for me being the tagliatelle with chestnuts and sage. So simple, but so delicious! We started our visit with S Pietro.
Asti - S Pietro - Baptistry
This part of the complex dates from the 12th Century. I had always wondered why the street next to the complex was named for the knights of Malta. It turns out the S Pietro was a Priory of the knights of St John. Here is a detail of the strange bas-relief over the door. Despite a good deal of sharpening, I cannot make out what it symbolises.
Ast Baptistry - Lintel

Here are Christine and Isabelle standing in front of an ornate window whose "carvings" are actually made of brick:

We were lucky enough to find S Secondo open. Here is the 18th Century choir.
Asti S Secondo - Choir

And here is a detail of the carvings.
Asti S Secondo Choir Detail

This polyptych of the Adoration of the Magi is by Gandolfino da Roreto (15th to 16th Century).
Asti S Secondo - Adoration of Magi - G da Roreto

After lunch we visited the crypt of S Anastasia, which is now Asti's archaeological museum. This is the actual crypt:

And here is a collection of the (mainly Roman) capitals recovered during work in the town:

Also in the museum was this old altar front

We visited Fenestrelle, the frontier fortress which claims to be the biggest in Europe.  It guarded the passage through the Val Chisone, one of the approaches to Turin.  This is the valley, seen from about one-third of the way up the 2.3 kilometre wall.

The officers' mess housed several prisoners taken by Napoleon in his conquest of Italy.

It seems that it was quite uncomfortable, because the Piedmontese climate was much more extreme that they were used to.  And Fenestrelle is quite high, around 1300 metres above sea level at the bottom (where the mess is), about  2000 at the top.  The day we visited, it was only possible to go to the first redoubt on the way up the hill, Tre Dente, so called for the three large rocks which the builders decided not to disturb during construction.

On the way up, we got a good view of the lower fort, and the "Royal Entrance" which is where foreign ambassadors or VIPS entered the fort, from the Savoy side.

Most of the way up here to Tre Dente was covered to protect mules and soldiers coming up from Carlo Alberto to the upper redoubts.  This is a shaky picture of the scala coperta, shaky because the Nikon's Vibration Reduction technology could not cope with the combination of our tiredness and the long exposure.

One reason the steps are so tiring (apart from the fact they were wet) was that they were cut to suit mules carrying  stores up to the top.

Our last excursion was to Neive.  This is the main street.


Here is the interior of the church of SS Peter and Paul.

and the rather decent wooden Cristo Morto.

There is one other church, only a few yards from Peter and Paul, that of S Michele.  It has fallen on hard times, and is now only used occasionally.

We realised that Isabelle had not yet tasted the local Moscato, and hastened to repair this omission.

And lastly, the real reason I find Neive so charming, the landscape of the Langhe