Days 52-53 / Lignan-Aosta-Vallon de Meyes

Oh, Italy – why is it so hard to produce a map that only shows actual, usable trails; and shows those trails accurately? Or vice versa; to maintain the trails the way they are shown on the map?

For example, this was marked on the map as a “dirt road, with difficulty”…

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…and it turned into this.

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But there was also this cool thing, where you could buy water for 5 cents pet litre.

So the past two days have been marked by the typical difficulty of finding the trail, in Italy. For compensation, the region has been very beautiful. The wide Aosta valley has a distinctly Mediterranean vibe, with vineyards and southern-style castles, but flanked by 4000ers. For me the area is also interesting because it was a hotbed of Résistance/Resistenza partisan activity against the fascists.

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Monument to a partisan

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Near Aosta

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The valley of Aosta

Actually I wanted to go further than Aosta on day 52, but the afternoon brought rain, and the city was the best place to stay. The town turned out to be quite surprisingly touristic (though understandably so), and the only affordable room was 40 Euros in the city centre, while the villages in the West would only have had more expensive accommodation, as I learned in the tourist office. So why not spend the night in this very pretty city with its mediaeval old town and Roman history? Plus, there was cheap food…

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The old Roman gate in Aosta

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View into the old town from my hotel room

Rain rain rain… simply a fact of life when doing anything in the Alps during the 2014 European monsoon season … err, I mean: summer.

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Rain…

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and swollen rivers; sights I’ve gotten used to.

Today (day 53) started with heavy rain and miles and miles of walking along main roads, until I finally got the chance to turn south and climb up into the Valsavarenche, into the Gran Paradiso National Park – and of course get lost in the woods more than once… The trails which I actually found however led through pristine forests, beautiful old villages, and finally up the west side of the valley to the pastures where I’d planned to spend the night in the tent. And although I had to walk 37 km for it, and up more than 2000m (the hardest day so far), what a view I was rewarded with!

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Traditional village in the Valsavarenche

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Evening view of the Gran Paradiso from my campsite in the Vallon de Meyes

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… and other mountains

The end of the rain in the afternoon brought with it a drop in temperature, the severity of which I perhaps underestimated, as I just noticed while seeing up my tent. I’m sleeping in the nicest place I’ve ever slept in, but perhaps also the coldest. Just 3°C in the evening heralds that this will be a cold night!

Phil

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