It’s finally time to bid our beloved France farewell. We cross through the Italian border mid morning. Not that we needed any signage to tell us.
It’s easy to know when you’re in Italy: cars zooming past you like you’ve accidentally stumbled onto a race track? Check. Appear to be driving though more tunnels than roads?
Check. Welcome to Italy. Home of some of the best food and fashion in the world, where everyone drives like Fangio on his last lap. Little secret: it was my nickname at one time, Fangio. Result of a lead foot and little red convertible combo. I’ll confess, as far as nicknames go, I was rather fond of it. God I loved that car. It occurs to me often to replace it. Best accessory I ever lashed out on. But I digress…
Whilst it’s a little sad to be leaving France, I am very much looking forward to the next stage of our journey. Himself has finalised a travel path, through the top of Italy*, a quick stop in Slovenia then onto Vienna. It should place us well for our “actual” destination of the Czech Republic and Poland.
Our first stop in Italy is just out of Turin, in the the town of Ivrea. There’s only one bone of contention with this: Italy doesn’t appear to have got the memo that the heatwave is over. It’s blistering.
Luckily, we’re able to settle on the Fiume Dora Baltea, a raging river that offers a respite to the heat. The locals have put it to good use with all manner of power generating diversions. There’s even a canoe run. And brave little souls zooming down it, trying not to drown. In between the breakneck speed and surrounding rocks, it’s not a sport for the faint hearted.
It’s Sunday so the town is deserted,
but still, we hike** across the river, up the hill to the 14th century Castello Sabaudo d’Ivrea which stands impressive, but deserted.
Originally built for defence, it’s was used as a prison in the 1700s. Today it’s home to municipal administrative offices.
The locals have, sensibly, all taken refuge at the cafe riverside, where the only cool breeze is to be found.
Who are we to argue with local tradition – we do the same and so spend a pleasant late afternoon with the roar of the river in our ears.
* Small incident on the Italian motorway: despite being on one of the smoothest roads we’ve been on in ages, a passing car flicks up stones, chipping our windscreen in not one, but two places. Given that it’s around 8 feet wide and curved, this isn’t the best news.
** And just to add to the day’s joy, on the way into town, I stack it spectacularly, grazing many bits of myself and crushing my phone screen in the process. More upset about the phone, truthfully. Not our day, then.