Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Calm before the Climb

Our two days have been a mix of chores and sightseeing. On Tuesday, we spent a couple of hours cleaning the bikes which were really dirty after 2500 km and riding in the heavy rain. It is neat to be in a town and have to get regular chores done (going to the post office, shopping for food, a haircut) because the people are so surprised at our requests and are so helpful. The salesman at the local hardware gave us directions and a recommendation to a nearby sporting goods shop for a small tarp. He was concerned that we get the right tarp for camping; we did go back and buy his tarp which will work just fine (the basic blue plastic tarp with grommets).

The bridge into Cuneo was built in 1921 and finished in 1933. When the Germans departed in April 1945, they tried to blow it up but only destroyed three arches. The bridge is 768 meters long, has 34 arches which are 25 meters wide, and is 47.5 meters above the river. Cuneo was founded in 1198 when the people of the town Caraglio revolted against the Marquis of Saluzzo. This enormous canvas depicts the revolt and was the curtain in the main theatre of the town for many years.

We had an excellent dinner in a trattoria just down the narrow street from the hotel. We started with an antipasti of fried pumpkin flowers stuffed with a soft white cheese and sautéed arugula. Dave had pork cutlets stuffed with prunes that were excellent. We had a spanking good wine as well.

We have seen many old Fiats from the 1950's in Italy that are running well and are generally driven by a an older Italian couple who honk and wave at us. Here is a prime example of this adorable car. Similar to the Cooper Mini, there is a modern equivalent of this car being produced.

Cuneo is very proud of its heritage and the city hall has beautiful frescoes painted in 1791 of important events in its history. While we were admiring some artwork in the hall, the mayor of Cuneo came up to us and wanted to make sure we saw the historical frescoes.

Our stay in Cuneo has been just what the doctor ordered. It has been a great place to relax and gather our resources for the assault on the Alps. Here is a picture of the small quiet street of our hotel, Ligure Hotel.

Here is a shot of the main plaza.

Tomorrow this pleasant stay ends and we head off up hill into the mountains where we anticipate great beauty as well as sweat.

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