Jun 30, 2009

Motorbike trip from Borgosesia Italy to Provence

Destination: Lavender fields of Forcalquier and Verdon area
Transportation: 2002 BMW 650CS
Route: Borgosesia - Cuneo; Colle della Maddalena - Barcelonnette; Col d'Allos - St. Andre les Alpes; Gorges du Verdon via Castellane - (Banon) - St. Etienne les Orgues; Sisteron - Briancon - Vercelli - Borgosesia.
Length of Trip: 3 days
Total Distance: 974 km/605 miles

I took all the surface roads on the way to France and rode from around noon until I arrived in St. Andre les Alpes that evening around 7:30. SS231 to Cuneo is not a road I'd choose again for all the trucks that pass that way. There are other country roads that are more enjoyable and can pop you out on the other side of Cuneo instead of riding through the town. Riding in France is heavenly.

Here I am near Barcelonnette. I stopped for a snack and of course to take a photo. Gusts of wind heralded an oncoming storm but I decided to continue in order to be nearer to the lavender fields.

On the road to Col d'Allos

At the top of the pass

Views of St. Andre les Alpes

At one end of Lac de Castillon

Tourist town of Castellane: you can't help but like this town for the medieval castle, the church on the hill and the quaint roads that wind around the square. And for windows like this one. Why don't we all paint borders around our windows and houses?

This little fella visited several of us sitting in the square. It was only after I saw him follow a man to the fountain that I guessed he was thirsty. He wouldn't drink water from my cupped hands, but caught it as I splashed handfuls out to him.

Views of the Gorges du Verdon and the road along the valley.

Me. I don't have a tummy ache; I'm holding up the water bladder I tucked into my jacket.

Lac de St. Croix

Chateaux d'Allemagne

Poppy fields in Provence...not what I was looking for. My bike is more photogenic than I am.

Views of the village St. Etienne les Orgues. I rode as far as Banon only to discover from the person at the tourist info office (who ONLY spoke french) that there are NO HOTELS in Banon. Only Chambres d'hotes or Gites which is fine, if they are open or have room. I had to leave town to look for other lodging and ended up in this area. Not too bad.

I arrived too early for fields of incredibly purple lavender. I took this photo because, well, I had to, and not because it was amazing.

On my way out, another photo at Sisteron and their walled Fortress.

Last stop in France for lunch - Tallard's fortress due to open July 1.

Remember my other photos of a fantastic dinner in France? Well, here is the other side of the spectrum.

That's where I'm headed, back to Italy (taken from N94)

Lac de Serre Poncon: one of the most visited sites in France

On the way to the Col de Montgenevre. (View of France)


Jun 26, 2009

Quick greetings to all and Off I run again

I thought I'd better write something, anything, so my friends know I am alive and to give a collective hello to you all. I've been offline for over a week working madly in different capacities and ignoring my writing.

Now, I get online and see that the pop star of my youth is dead of a heart attack. Not that I was a great Michael Jackson fan, but I find I sometimes measure my life according the passage of others, whether they die, or they've become adults and I last saw them as a baby.

I remember once again that each day really is a gift and needs to be appreciated fully.

The other week, I took a long awaited bike trip to France. I've wanted to write about it and share it with my friends, and at the same, I was reluctant. It seemed that once I wrote about it, it would be over....and I didn't want it to be something with an end. It was that enjoyable an experience for me.

Now, we are planning another bike trip and as it is when there is something else to look forward to, it is easier to let go of the things of the past. Human nature. I guess we should always plan for something in the future.

I'm away from the computer again this weekend, so sorry to all for not visiting your blogs and not contributing one way or another. (Special hello to Hans and Martin. I hope all is well in your neck of the woods)

Jun 17, 2009

La Burla Sun Valley Ranch Guardabosone Italy

Sun Valley Ranch is a place for horse-lovers living in or visiting the northern Piemonte region. It is a riding school and a place to go if you are looking for a new way to explore the Piemonte hills surrounding their property.

It is a new addition to La Burla, Cascine del Sole, an agriturismo in Guardabosone (see previous post).

What are the Stables like at Sun Valley Ranch?
10 boxes make up the stables that are built entirely in wood and protected with a fire retardant. There is an area for grooming/washing the horses, many outside paddocks, a saddle and harness room and a club house. The outdoor arena for riding lessons is a good size (98 x 68 feet) and is surrounded by some shade producing trees.

What type of Horses are raised at Sun Valley Ranch?
This of course touches home for me...the horses are all pure American. The Quarter Horse and Paint (so popular in westerns!!) are known for their quiet nature but are great for experts and beginners alike.

The Services offered by Sun Valley Ranch?
  • Western style riding lessons and some western figure, barrel racing, pole bending and obstacle course.
  • Horseback rides with a professional guide. You can choose where and how long you'd like to ride.
  • Little ones can enjoy a ride in a pony drawn carriage
  • Housing for your horses.
Daniela Pasinetti and/or Paolo Buonamici will be happy to help you choose your ride or give you more information on their stables. Sun Valley Ranch is part of the Federazione Italiana Turismo Equestre.

Tel. 347 455 1707 (You can call to make reservations). Country code 039 if calling from outside Italy.

Open every day except Tuesday
(Aperto tutti i giorni tranne il martedi')

Jun 16, 2009

La Burla, A Piemonte Farm, Stables and More

La Burla, Cascine del Sole....

One establishment -- five branches of activity with something for everyone. Near Borgosesia in Guardabosone Piemonte, La Burla Cascine del Sole, supports a nearby restaurant, a horse ranch and stables, a sports area, a shop for fresh cuts of meat and of course, the farm.

Anne, of course you came to mind when I saw this place. If you ever come to visit again, perhaps we can take a ride around the mountain.

The Stables - Sun Valley Ranch
Their new addition is their ranch with only American horses...quarter and paints. That explains the very large American flag on their stables. These horses are chosen for their quieter nature. (No Anne, no Arabs like Keepsake - They want people to come back!)

There is a very friendly dog who has learned to leap on the stable doors to keep the doors properly shut. She does this on command and also when she just feels like it. If you visit, she will ask you to throw one of her toys. Throw it FAR if you want a short rest or go on a hot day and she'll hide out under the office instead.

The Farm

La Burla encourages visitors, students etc to pass through and see how a farm is run. There are cows, pigs, goats, donkeys, hens...yup, all the animals of Old MacDonald. I went there with Antonella and little Federico and we kept saying "What does a cow say? What does a pig say?..." On that day, he was more interested in sitting on the tractor.

The Shop

The animals are raised, not only for educational purposes, but also to ultimately end up on display in pieces in their on-site store. Piemontese beef is well renowned and very popular. If you want something different, there is a selection of goat, pig and rabbit. There are sausages, cheese, honey and other typcial products from the Piemonte area.

The Restaurant - La Barrique
In Guardabosone's town center there is a marvelous little restaurant that is connected with this cascine. I'd gone there for a delicious dinner before realizing there was a nearby farm that provided their inventory. Excellent food.

The Grounds

The cascine is open for those wanting to play tennis, soccer, basketball or go mountain biking. An area, covered like a huge tent is available for special occasions like a birthday party. There are only 74 acres to run free and get lost in. Go for a picnic. (There is an area free for everyone to use with tables, BBQ etc. Dogs welcome of course.)

I believe there were plans for an agriturismo projected for the end of 2008 --there is a new building on-site perhaps for this purpose. Below is their contact info if someone is interested

La Burla, Cascine del Sole
13010 Guardabosone (VC)
Tel. 015 76 97 779
Cell. 340 170 0854
Country Code 039 if calling from outside Italy.

Jun 14, 2009

Motorbike trip in the forecast...and perhaps also rain?

I am heading out for a short motorbike trip and am all ready to go, but today, after days of lovely and welcoming sunshine....it is cloudy and gray. I am hoping this is only one of the characteristics of the northern foothills and doesn't mean "rain". I'm going anyway.

A presto.

Rossi reigns in Barcelona!

I just watched the absolute BEST MotoGP race ever...even better than the Rossi/Stoner race in the States last year. I LOVE ROSSI!!!!

The fight was between Lorenzo and Rossi, both riding Yamaha, in the Barcelona circuit. Lorenzo was in pole and took the lead easily, but had Rossi on his tail up until the last few laps. Rossi passed him, always the crazy man whether passing on the inside or the outside.

Then Lorenzo passed him again but without even letting a bike length pass, Rossi pulled in his knee, accelerated and was again in front.

Lorenzo again, passing on the inside and I was out of my seat. NO!! I found myself with my face right up in the TV screaming for Vale to pass him again. The commentator was saying 'Duro, e' durissimo'...'hard, it's hard'...with only the final lap to go.

The camera showed the wheel of Lorenzo in front and then shot out to an aerial to show Rossi on the final curve making a sick pass and then screaming by the checkered flag.


And tomorrow, I myself will take my bike out for a three day, very calm non-Rossi-like motorbike ride to the regions of France once again. I am pumped, that's for sure.

Photo from Official MotoGP site.

Jun 12, 2009

La Barrique Restaurant Guardobosone in Piemonte italy

Today's post is a part of the World Blog Surf Day organized by Sher at Czech off the Beaten Path. Since the topic is about FOOD my focus will be on the restaurant La Barrique, Guardobosone in Piemonte, that serves typical foods of this region.

Note the name of the restaurant: La Barrique. Food in the Piemonte has been influenced by the French and this neighborhood has drawn many French on holiday weekends. One time, the dining room was full, but A was the ONLY Italian guest.

Now, I am not a person who can sit still for long so I am not suited for true Italian meals. A formal meal or a get-together (like the one we had last Sunday), consists of 6 courses. I can’t eat that much so I pick and choose.

Last night’s Antipasto (1) was a plateful of salumi (sliced cold meat) from Coggiola. Coggiola is another town in the vicnity and is the only town that prepares this type of cut meat. How's that for regional! It was served with sliced apples sitting on a bed of lettuce and covered light sauce.

This, like prosciutto, is not a cooked meat. You may be more familiar with the prosciutto and melon that is abundant in summer time.

I skipped the pasta dish as usual (2) (from the Primi Piatti section) and went straight to the Secondi.

(Side note: Last Sunday I ordered the Taglio di Manzo at the mountain restaurant and somewhat thin slices of very rare meat (VERY rare meat) were placed before me. I was told that “Taglio” always comes prepared that way. I was looking for a nice juicy steak! I've lost count of how much rare and even raw meat I've eaten here.)

So last night at La Barrique I jumped at the chance to order the Entrecote di Manzo (3). There is a farm called la Burla that supplies this restaurant with fresh cuts of the famous Piemontese beef.

Very interesting creation with a nest of rock salt sitting on top of the tastiest steak I’ve had in a while. A skewer of grilled onion, eggplant, potato and tomato was placed beside it with more round scoops of baked potato on the black backdrop of a plate.

All this was accompanied by a Barolo wine, also made in Piemonte.

We skipped the cheese (4) but at Sunday’s meal we devoured samples of sheep, goat and cow’s cheese, the latter (Toma) being the most popular from this area. I’ve not enjoyed cheese so much as when it is eaten with honey or marmalade of honey. Delicious!

Dessert (5) is a must for A and something else I usually skip. A baked pear dish made from fruits picked from the region came dusted with powdered sugar, a daub of whipped cream on the side and drizzled with chocolate.

Coffee and/or a liquor (6) is usually last. The liquor is said to help digest all the food that was just devoured.

I'm not sure if Annmucc in London experienced meals such as this when she visited Pisa a short while ago. However, I know from her experience that a technically minded chemistry/biology major going for her PhD knows how to enjoy the good things in life. Read her contribution at Rantings from Afar and get caught up in her boundless energy.

This round of World Blog Surf Day participants are being acknowledged in Anastasia Ashman's Twitter stream. Please check out her Twitter page or website. She is an American cultural producer based in Istanbul, and is a creator of Expat Harem, the anthology by foreign women about modern Turkey. Her Tweetstream focuses on women, travel and history and she shares resources for writers./travelers, expats, Turkophiles and culturati of all stripes.

In case there is a break in the chain, here is the list to continue your journey. Enjoy the trip!