Jan 25, 2011

Castles of Piemonte, Castello di Aglie'


One would have to be blind to miss Castello di Aglie'. One of the pleasures of exploring, is actually getting a little lost, or taking a road to see where it leads, even if it means searching the map to see where you've actually ended up. That is how I found this little gem. Well, "little" is not the right word for it.


I walked in to see what it had become...a hotel, restaurant, museum? It was the last, and since a tour was going to begin shortly, I decided to fit it in before heading home. The smaller towns tend to slumber like bears in winter and seeing the cash flow was at a minimum, I was sent out from the museum in search of change in order to purchase the ticket. Two stores later, I was in business. 

I am always surprised that Italians get any new business because they never seem to advertise. I've walked into salons asking for a brochure so I can get an idea of services and price structure only to hear (what I interpreted as) an embarrassed little laugh that was always followed by a "no, I don't have any", or the more tactful, "we are all out at the moment".  This experience didn't prepare me for the museum telling me that I couldn't take any photos and "no, we don't have postcards or memorabilia for sale."

So my tour in sub-zero temperature rooms remains a blur in my head. Tours are like that. You can't really absorb anything because the guide is anxious to move on, eager for another coffee break or perhaps convinced he will keep interest high if he kept the pace up. Or maybe he just wanted to keep moving to keep warm.

I do recall amazing curtain treatments (and there were a LOT of windows and doors); a ballroom that made me think they didn't have large parties (or many friends?); handsome leather-covered chairs that I'd love to steal away; a well-kept library filled with rare collections; rooms with the oddest ingress/egress; walls covered with delicate hand-painted paper, a room filled with an awesome yellow glow thanks to the wall color, the window treatment and a setting sun; paintings, paintings and more paintings of ancestors, of life at court, of conquests (includes wives as well as wars), of past-times and ....

And because I have nothing to show for it but the outside, I have to post a Castello di Aglie' link that is thankfully in english and includes a virtual tour. At least from the comfort of your home, you won't have to dig your hands deep into your pockets or armpits to keep warm.


Jan 23, 2011

Castles of Piemonte, Montalto Dora

Montalto Dora is situated on S26 in the Province of Torino, close to Ivrea on your way toward Aosta. The fortress is one of many, as Piemonte has been generously sprinkled with castles, monasteries and churches. Ivrea is not that far from Borgosesia, so I packed my furry companion and off we went in search of the old.

Castle at Montalto Dora
The castle changed ownership many, many times and survived numerous wars, most of which were between Italy's nobility. During the assault of 1641 between Ivrea and the Duke of Savoy, the fortress was destroyed inside but the exterior was left intact. The architect Alfredo d'Andrade (1839-1915) who was particularly interested in the restoration of medieval architecture and the delegate for the conservation of Piemontese and Ligurian monuments, made some restorations in 1890. He did not touch the corner pinnacles, the 2-light mullion windows, the terracotta windows nor the battlements. 


We parked near the trail-head for the "Old Road", now a hiking trail to the castle. The castle is not open all year round, and certainly was not today, but it's used for special occasions, and markets. This trail then opens up for traffic as it leads to a parking lot that is situated a short distance below the castle. I never saw if there is another road leading out the other side of the hill, but there has to be, considering this one is so narrow. What would you do if you went up and then changed your mind?!

Trail leading to the castle, short distance
At the base of the trail-head, there is also a small picnic area, with running water. Tala didn't find it as interesting as the little pond above the picnic space where she could put all four paws, and muzzle under water.



And those muddy paws then went into the car.

Jan 9, 2011

Italian Music - Francesco Renga Un Giorno Bellissimo

We are back up in the foggy, rainy, cold and incredibly grey north. For the trip, by car, I'd purchased a CD set  - 100 Songs of Love which turned out to be 50 American and 50 Italian.

I have a bad habit of not remembering artists, title and far less, the words. A, on the other hand, ranked a good 47 out of 50 for the italian songs which ranged from the 60's to today....artist, title and words. I was impressed. And he had a good time belting out the songs as he drove.

This link will take you to the ItalianPop blog where I've chosen one of the many Italian Songs that he posts. It is a favorite of mine. Un Giorno Bellissimo by Francesco Renga from last year. (This rendition comes with a video that I'd not seen before. Cute, funny or warped, depending on who is watching. Look out for the priest, the old man with the top-hat and well, you can tell me what you think of the ending.) Regardless, the song is beautiful.

Un Giorno Bellissimo, per stare insieme....A beautiful day for being together.