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.
The plan was to luxuriate for twelve days in Viterbo, with enthusiastic sight-seeing in the region, and a few days tacked onto either side of that for getting there and back.
Lu, Settimo Vittone, and home to Ollon
7 December 2016, Pearl Harbor Day, and it's time to start north for home. If we can induce Squirrel to come in off the balcony. (Get out the cat treats.)
The mountains of the Ligurian Apennines as we're approaching Genoa
The Squirrel is a very patient traveler. No pharmaceuticals were involved.
The various autostrade around Genoa are mostly elevated way off the ground, or . . .
. . . in tunnels.
"Men on the Road"
Northward from Genoa, somewhere approaching the Alessandria West exit
Local weather issues
Now overland to the thriving metropolis of Lu
Lu in the offing. We're psychologically obliged to stop in Lu returning from all Italian trips, chiefly because of the beloved Grignolino (sometimes, unpredictably, lightly frizzante) virtually for free in the Cantina Sociale di Lu.
The clocktower at the top of the hill
We try to time our arrivals in Lu for when the Cantina is closed for lunch and La Trinità is open for lunch.
Seeking out La Trinità (having been here before helps a lot)
Weekends only for dinner, but every day for lunch, because of the schoolkids
Fingers crossed there's room for us
And there is: one probable businessman, two workmen, a daily flight of schoolkids with their teacher, and us
The food is wonderful.
It's 14:00 and the Cantina should be open now.
Conzano, the next village to the north
The Cantina is open
Serious discussions and the latest news
The latest news, and good advice
On this trip, our dedicated Grignolino fan is opting for 20 litre "bags-in-a-box" for home bottling, not such a good idea as it turned out at home.
We've arrived with the little Volvo fully packed from a two-week trip -- how on earth are we going to fit 20 litre "bags-in-a-box" into that thing?
Northward through the villages to join the autostrada at Casale Monferrato Sud
Church and Soldier with Flag
Castles along the way
The impressive Castello di Pavone near Ivrea -- "H" for hotel. Some day, when we're rich.
That's our castle/hotel, looming at dusk over Settimo Vittone, with its 9th century pieve on the right.
There it is.
The Ospitalità del Castello is a convenient stop for us, two and a half hours from home and at the foot of the Aosta valley as it opens out into the Canavese region of the Piemonte. The restored parts are out of the frame to the right.
This is not our usual room (which was already booked), which may be why . . .
. . . Squirrel seems disoriented.
The 9th century pieve, or rural church with baptistery -- the medieval pilgrims' route to Rome called the Via Francigena comes right by here.
The next day, 8 December 2016, dawns well, so far.
-- It's time to get up, Squirrel.
Desperate to see the pieve closer up, after all these visits, one is just going to have to hop the fence.
Hop it, or clamber over it awkwardly. Whatever works.
There's talk on the signs outside about restoration works in progress, and it would certainly be worth it, but we haven't seen any evidence of that over the past few years.
The castello on the left (with a restaurant that has apparently finally closed its doors), and the commodious lodgings on the right.
Round behind the little church, growing out of the rock
The road below
We're off northward up the Val d'Aosta now.
Crossing the river Dora Bàltea to join the motorway at Quincinetto
The southern side of mighty Fort Bard
Above Aosta, the tower near Gignod
Approaching the Grand St Bernard above St-Oyen
The galleries into the tunnel above St-Rhemy
Time to declare our goods and pay the duty, which is reasonable
Fine weather on the snowless Swiss side of the Grand St-Bernard Pass
We're nearly home -- that's our local train crossing the autoroute.
Back to Ollon, to sort through all the bills that have come in the meantime.
Sadly, this was our last trip with the blessed Squirrel.