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.
En route to the Veneto: two nights in Viverone
Nasty weather in Switzerland, 24 February 2017: Bourg-St-Pierre, the last town before the galleries leading into the tunnel of Grand St-Bernard into Italy
But it's fine weather on the Italian side: we're joining the E25 autostrada near Aosta. A castle of the medieval lords of the Quart family is up on the hillside just behind the lightpole.
The Castello di Fénis, as we're hurtling past the Nus exit on our journey down the Aosta Valley. It was a 13th and 14th stronghold of the Challant family (rivals of the Quarts for control of the Val d'Aosta). We visited some years ago.
Our usual stopover place in Settimo Vittone is fully booked, so we're in the little town of Viverone on the Lago di Viverone.
The free parking's just up the street.
Uptown Viverone is adorned with mostly famous cartoon characters (not sure about the rights for re-use). This is sort of the village square.
We're staying in the B+B Monastero del Lago, up in this formerly monastic courtyard.
The B+B, nicknamed La Badesse or the Abbess, is located in this restored part of the courtyard, operated by extremely friendly hosts. The price is very reasonable (with a potential discount for pilgrims traveling along the medieval Via Francigena), and we'll be staying two nights.
Very comfortable rooms -- this is our first Italian trip without photos of the Squirrel settling into her new surroundings: RIP Squirrel, at 18 years of age, 17 February.
Oh my. Have a nice stay!
The rest of our courtyard
One of us is a sucker for this kind of thing (and it's not Kristin).
One of us (Kristin) looked up Verdirosi: Umberto Verdirosi's prints are apparently everywhere in Italy and most of Europe, analogous to the 'Big Eyes' craze in the USA in the 1950s, but . . . one of us still likes them.
It's time for a sightseeing walk around Viverone -- down to the lake.
The Lago di Viverone is one of the 111 sites included in the UNESCO World Heritage transboundary (6 nations) cultural property "Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps", comprising Neolithic and Bronze Age stilt houses or 'pile dwellings' constructed along the marshy shores of European lakes ca. 5,000 to 500 BC.
The Lake Viverone shoreline, developed for tourism around the northern and western sides, not so much on the south and east, about 3km lengthwise and 2km across.
A small attractive historical display . . .
. . . with information about the living arrangements of our ancestors.
And the Bikers' Bar, with a portrait of a lady on a motorcyle in a bikini. And no helmet on. (They serve Fosters beer!)
Viverone seems to have a potentially lively tourist scene . . . in the right season (we're here in February).
The Viverone shoreline -- the town of 1,500 souls offers a range of water sports (in season), though in fact we didn't see any actual swimming beaches.
A huge range of gustatory opportunities . . .
. . . including the wide array of temptations at the Zanzibar Village.
"I ❤ Zanzibar Village" (especially the chicken-on-a-stick)
The Viverone lakeside
Love Locks. (There was a newspaper cartoon the other day of a swooning couple plighting their everlasting troth with their padlock on the rail and an industrious city employee working his way along behind them with his boltcutters.)
A little farther along, at the Bar La Marinella: the outdoor bar was empty, but the indoor café had decent panini.
It may not help, but it can't hurt.
The southern end of the lake from the end of the Viverone 'boardwalk'
Viverone, from the southern end of the facilities
The Provincial Road SP228 passes through Viverone -- the ViverOne restaurant just up the road was very good on both nights.
An innovative use for a disused church
The road outside our B+B, seen from the breakfast room
A fellow sightseer at breakfast, from Sicily, with an iPhone full of family photos
A splendid breakfast in what must once have been the attic
We're off today to visit the local amusements, but we'll be back in time for another dinner at the ViverOne.
Along the SP228, we've spotted the Castello di Roppolo and might as well have a look.
Up serpentine little roads above Roppolo village
A necropolis below on the provincial road. It turns out that the Castello di Roppolo, though closed up tight today, is presently (since 1980) a restaurant -- the Ristorante La Lira -- and apparently with hotel facilities as well.
It's said to have been built in the early 14th century around a pre-existing 10th century tower, and belonged to the ruling Bicchieri family, serving as a Ghibelline border fortress for the forces of Vercelli against those of Ivrea and rival Guelph families in the Canavese region.
The Lago di Viverone from the Castle of Roppolo
The Chiesa di San Michele al Castello in the yard of the castle
The old tower and adjoining castle from its yard. There's no way we're going to get to see the inside of this one, so tant pis. The castle was taken over by the Counts of Savoy in 1441.
The church of San Michele
Now we're en route for a brief investigation of Novara, and then Biella; and then dinner at the ViverOne.