The time finally came to wrap up our stay in Chateauroux and move to the Dolomites. Our group would be growing in Italy with the additions of Nenad and Phil, friends and cyclists from Reno, so we had secured a roomy apartment in the mountain village of Alleghe.
We gleefully ignored the length of the drive until the morning of, then had a minor panic when we realized it was a 7+ hour affair. Oh well; time to get going!
We were already near the Italian border, so after navigating a good bit of tourist traffic near Briancon, we were cleared for takeoff on the autostrada. Or so we thought. Thanks to our access to stunning technology in this golden age of electronics, I'm able to bring you a transcript of the in-car dialogue during the first few kilometers of our autostrada journey:
Oh look; what's that? Oh, a toll booth? That's cute. It's 9 euro?! Hmm. Ok, well at least that's over.
[silence for a few minutes]
Um, what's that up ahead? Is that another toll booth? That's odd. This one wants 12 euro???
[grumbling, followed by more silence]
That had BETTER not be another toll booth!
[frenzied screaming, unintelligible profanities]
So, something like 70 euro later, we crossed Italy, left the autostrada, and entered heavy traffic in the mountains. We had the misfortune of traveling during the end of Italy's big summer holiday period, and the landscape was overrun with tourists (of which we were included), so it was slow going through tiny villages with 1.5-lane wide roads.
All was well, though, and we made Alleghe that evening. Alleghe is located along a lake at the base of the Civetta Group of the Dolomites, a visually stunning sub-range (the Dolomites are spread across a fairly large region). It's predominantly a winter resort town; our apartment was across the street from the ski resort's gondola. However, it's busy during the summer, too - mountain biking and hiking abound.
Our location was about as central as it could possibly be. A ~200m loop would take us on our daily path of bread, fruit, vegetable, and meat shopping, and we were steps away from an enoteca, a pizzeria, a gelateria, and several other -erias. In other words...life is good.
Serving as our home base for the next 10 days, we rapidly got down to settling in to the easy life in Alleghe. Brace thyselves, Faithful 7, as there will be a whole spate of posts from here, broken out logically by what we were getting up to.
Let's start with a quick wander around Alleghe as night sets in. Sorry; it's not a comprehensive tour. I did not have that in mind and just did the ADD thing for spots that caught my eye. Besides, you'll be more interested to see the mountains etc.
Old firewood shack as day fades
Stone and wood
Town church, with ridiculously loud (and frequent) bells
One interesting quirk about Italy's mountain towns is that they take the concept of the siesta to staggering new heights. With the exception of a couple cafes, the town pretty much entirely shut down from noon until 4 or 4:30. Naptime!
Lots to come; stay tuned.
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