I’ve already got through most of this post and lost it on my Samsung tablet, so I fear this one won’t be as good as the first version!
This tour comes after a hot and long Spanish summer, so we’re looking forward to getting away and the thought of trying to pack enough clothes to last until late October was very strange as we’ve been in shorts and vest tops at home, so to have to consider puffy coats, boots and jeans isn’t easy.
Our mission this trip is to get to see our friends Breda and Borut in their home town of Ljubliana in Slovenia. We’ve come across the southern part of France, and into northern Italy for the first part, and will see where it takes us after that. We made very good progress getting from home to Homps on the canal du Midi in one day. Then we stopped just north east of Avignon at a charming little village called Mirabel aux Baronnies, very medieval and understated on the tourist front which was lovely.
This was recommended by Borut as they have stopped there before, so I shall enjoy showing him our photos.
From there we made our way east towards Italy, stopping at a small place called Chorges before crossing the Italian border. The road we crossed on was heading us in the direction of Alba, home of the white truffle, and was one of the prettiest routes we have taken, winding our way through glorious countryside and over the mountains. Although one of the parts included a section of hairpin bends it was worth it, even with the massive trucks coming up in the other direction.
We stopped at a 10€ sosta (aire) Nieve in Italy which is about 6km out of Alba, and scooted to the town, which was a lovely afternoon amble around the old town and a coffee in a square. We managed to get a few samples from the shops specialising in the local white truffle as well!
From there we had a few hours around Asti, home of the Spumante wine which is so yummy! We treated ourselves to a rare lunch out, 10€ for a menu which they let us share. Bread and grissini breadsticks, then a huge plate pasta with peas and ham in a creamy sauce, green beans, and ham and mozzarella balls. This was followed by dessert, which I ordered profiteroles, only to be served tiramisu! RESULT! Only my favourite! I have eaten many over the the years, but this was so light it just melted in my mouth beautifully.
We moved on, heading east again to a small town called Varzi, on a free riverside sosta, and enjoyed their medieval village and the following morning when they had their market, so we wandered round enjoying the locals at their best. I always think a market day is the best day to see a town come alive.
Guastalla was the next stop, again on a free sosta,but this one had a difference – free water for the locals , which was a choice of either natural, chilled or gassed. From the time we arrived there was a constant stream of locals arriving to fill up their water bottles – from 6am in the morning til late at night. Sadly this also meant mosquitoes were much in evidence! !
So, I hear you ask, where are you now? We’re in Mantova, where we have visited before briefly,but thought we’d like to come back and do it in a little more depth. The Palazzo Ducale is a beautiful palace and to our joy, free on the first Sunday of each month, so we got up early to take advantage and save 24€! -Culture can be expensive! !