Piedmont, 2006

At last, the first family holiday in the Piedmont house!  During the night on which we arrived, Santo and his men came and started to fill the pool.  By Sunday morning, there was enough water to swim, but it was very cold indeed - it had come from a spring 250m below ground level, and its temperature had been 11 degrees.  Amusingly, when I asked Santo how much water he could get in the tanker, the answer was "200 Quintals".  Apparently, a quintal is about one hundredweight.  It is good to know the avoirdupois system is alive and well and living in the Piedmont.

Santo's men were still laying the stone around the pool for the first week, so this shot is from the second Sunday of the holiday, when Giuseppe was up from Rome, having had a nightmare trip that lasted nearly 12 hours.

Our first visit - on the first Sunday - was to Genoa.  Here is the church of San Giovanni di Pré:

The "hospital" was for a while a staging post for clerks and soldiers going to the Holy Land.  The upper church has few traces of its Romanesque origins:

Unfortunately, our guide book did not mention the fact that the lower church is now restored, nor that it might be possible to visit it.  But I expect we shall be making more trips to Genoa, for one reason or another.

In Genoa, the stripy marble effect was a sign of conspicuous wealth.  No doubt this is the reason the banks have stripy marble for their offices.

We wandered around Genoa looking for restaurants who served coeliacs; very few restaurants were open at all, this being a Sunday and the beginning of August.  On our way, we found our way to the duomo.

More stripy marble ....

After finding a little bar where they had some cold meat - and a caprese for Christine, we made our way back towards the car.  Perhaps because of Genoa's involvement with the crusades San Giorgio is a big deal in Liguria.  This is the Palazzo S Giorgio.

Our visit to Turin produced only one photo - taken in the Piazza San Carlo

The museum of Egyptology was worth the trip - just for the statues, but it was unclear whether we were allowed to take photos or not.

While Giuseppe was visiting us, we walked up to the top of the hill.  The terrace in front of the church has views that reach to Switzerland

Can't make out those mountains?

Here, too, is a closer view of the castle

We ate lunch behind the house, and dinner in front, to hide from the sun.  Luckily we have two tables; the shadows show this photograph was taken around 11.30 am.

Here are Giuseppe and Christine talking in front of the house.

And here is Guiseppe, getting as close to the water as he felt comfortable.

And here is Christine, standing at the deep end - there is a ledge at a depth of one metre all round the pool.

Here we all are, after dinner, with the pool as calm as a millpond.

Tomato pickers - this part of the Piedmont was the birthplace of the tomato canning industry

I wanted to show the tomato picking machine up close.  4 people are doing work that would have kept 20 or 30 busy - the tractor filled the trailer in about half an hour.

This panorama shows how big the field was.

Where's the beef?

Food in Tuscany is plentiful.   This meal was in Panzano

Just over the hill from La Capella, where we first stayed in 1987.

We had come down to Florence for the night to get some new ties for those who still wear them to work, and to revisit the Fra Angelico freschi in San Marco.  When you see all the paintings one after another, it is easy to see why he has been beatified.  While waiting for another restaurant to open for lunchtime, we found another unexpected - an photographable - treasure: Perugino's crucifixion in the crypt of the Annunziata.

Next visit was to Acqui Terme.  This is the church of the Addolorata (formerly St Peter's) in Acqui Terme.  Externally, it has escaped the ravages of the baroque.


Acqui is a centre for the mushroom trade.  Porcini are cheaper here than we had ever seen them.

OK, these pieces are expensive, at €130/kilo, but they are big.  Seemingly, they have to go before this autumn's crop comes in.

Acqui's cathedral is dedicated to Saint Gui.  No dancers on the tympanum, though.  The medieval streets are narrow and steep.

Next to visit were the vineyards.  This is the castle of Grinzane Cavour.  Apparently, the big cheese was only 1m50 tall!

Here a view of Roddi and in the background, the castle at Guarene.

And here are more of the Barolo vineyards, seen from the other side of the castle

Inside the castle, the kind of wine or olive press in which a Medieval Goldfinger might have put Bond's toes

Easier to see the scale with this shot

The main reception room inside the castle has painted plaster ceilings

And then, as always, the holidays were over .....