You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
Our last day in Parma, 20 February, and we're going to make the most of it. The police car is not for us.
It's Saturday, Market Day in Parma (one of them), in the covered Piazza Ghiaia (and in all the nearby streets as well), and we're here for the bargains. We've agreed to meet back here at a specified time (an honest acknowledgement that I just can't keep up).
The piazza is built below the raised riverside roads of the Lungoparma, the length of the city that follows the Torrente Parma through the middle of it. In addition to the piazza, permanent shops are built in under the roadway, on the left.
Not aware of actually needing anything, bargain or otherwise, we'll proceed to the road above and gaze down upon the brisk business of buying and selling. As God does from his Heaven . . . well, it's not the same.
A little like Black Friday at Walmarts, but with fewer casualties.
An embarrassment of riches, and probably some imitation riches, too
How about a set of pots and pans? Good price. (US$ 5.71 today)
Anything you want, 1 euro [US$ 1.13]
In the midst of this Piazza of Plenty, this again is the Conad's specialty and gourmet shop (the supermarket for the oì polloi is in the basement)
Market Day on the nearby streets
Toting our bags of bargains
Kitchen appliances, only 10 euros. Comes with a guarantee!
Two pieces for a euro -- there's got to be SOMETHING here you can wear.
Or one for 50 centimes, if you can't find two.
We're back to our favorite fruit and vegetable market to load up for the drive home.
The prosperity of Parma is not universal.
Back to the monastic church of San Giovanni Evangelista, the 10th century establishment with its early 16th century façade, which we visited a few days ago. We're come today to see what's to be seen of the rest of the vast complex, just here on the left.
Our first cloister (of three, lest monks get bored)
The next cloister
"Pray and Work", that's our motto (and don't you forget it)
The monastic complex -- the trazoidal courtyard on the upper left, is actually a secure carpark at present, where Sven the Volvo is probably impatient to get back on the road.
The next cloister
The one with the tree in it
The back end of the cathedral from San Giovanni Evangelista
And the baptistery
A strange little car that the hotel management hires out at a need. But we don't have a need. We've got a little Volvo.
And this is the Po valley countryside as we head for home. Four hours roughly, door to door.
The Castello di Pavone, seen from the autostrada near the Ivrea exit. Built in the 13th century, nearly destroyed in the Italian Wars of the early 16th century, rebuilt and almost finished off by Napoleon and his friends, it's back! The white banners hanging over the wall on the right side indicate "hotel" and "restaurant".
Sheep watching the cars go by on the autostrada
We've stopped at the Bennet near Ivrea, to stock up some more.
A tasteful display about Fort Bard -- unforgettable indeed.
The Castello di Verrès, a Challant family fortress from the 14th century. It's architecturally important in castle lore because it's "one of the first examples of a castle constructed as a single structure rather than as a series of buildings enclosed in a circuit wall". It gets 20,000 appreciative visitors a year, but so far, not us.
Continuing up the Val d'Aosta into the Alps
Through the village of Étroubles at about 1,300 meters altitude -- a Roman guardpost for the Grand St Bernard Pass, a way stop on the pilgrimage route the Via Francigena, and 'Napoleon slept here', 20 May 1800.
. . . through to the Swiss side.