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Published: August 14th 2013
We had had a very comfortable 3 nights in our apartment in Milan but it was time to move on and France is beckoning.
The day dawned with that European haze you often see when there is a bit more cloud cover around although it is still warm.
With some difficulty I extracted Cindy from the small secured car park where she has stayed for our 3 nights here.The entrance to the back yard car park was very narrow and just wide enough for the car with the mirrors out to pass through.So with Luigi out on the busy narrow road on the blind corner I made it after a couple of attempts to keep the car dead straight in reverse.
We wanted to stay clear of downtown Milan as we drove west and with a series of interlinking roads we somehow made it without getting too close and were soon out in the countryside passing through farm land with rice growing.We hadn't thought of Italy as a place where rice was grown in such volumes but apparently the land west of Milan is good for growing it.There were aquaducts everywhere taking water to the crop at the
critical times when it needs to be flooded.
The long period of heat seems to have had an effect on many of the trees which are dropping their leaves.
We stopped on the outskirts at the small town of Mortara outside the town's cemetery which appeared a lot grander than what one might have expected for a small insignificant town.The cemetery was started in 1884 and had tall walls and a grand entrance.Gretchen noticed a small office to one side of the entrance with a board of keys in large numbers.We joked that perhaps they were there for anyone of the dearly departed wanting to 'check out' for a while.!!
We had no idea of what to expect of the location of our accommodation or what the 'guest house/hotel' would be like as we knew nothing about the area which is just off the route to the Mont Blanc tunnel and France.Trying to go the whole distance to our next planned stop would have been too much to take in the scenery we expect to see in the mountains and Sala Biellese was about half way of the total journey.
We discovered as we started to
climb towards the foothills of the Italian Alps that the location was going to be isolated and after negotiating several back country roads with few inhabitents we made it to the hillside village where the accommodation was located.
The place turned out to be an eco friendly guest house/hotel catering for groups into eco type activities.It was family run and all of thoses around were very friendly and interested in that we had come from NZ to stay with them.We weren't able to get across that we had been on the road for a few months as their English understanding was limited.
We took a walk around the village which had a bar but no restaurant, so it was just as well we had the microwave handy as we didn't know where the next town was to find somewhere to eat other than Biella which was 15 or so kilometres away.
The village had about 40 or 50 buildings/homes and seemed to have an interesting past as far as the resistance movement from WW2 was concerned.There were a number of information boards around the village relating to the resistance during 1944/45 after Italy changed sides and joined
the Allies and the Germans invaded Italy.Gretchen had spoken with the elderly mother of the owner of the hotel who had a book on the resistance with pictures taken from the area at the time.She only wished she could speak English as she was sure she would have had an interesting discussion with the elderly woman.
As the day came to an end,a thunderstorm rolled over and the night air cooled which might be a sign for a temporary change in the weather from the hot,sunny conditions of the past few weeks.
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