Adventures in Val Chisone and around

Adventures, observations,events and comments on life in an alpine valley in Italy from an English family living next door to the largest fortress in Europe. (Fenestrelle)
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Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Berlusconi the embarrasing clown of Italy

Berlusconi is again making the news worldwide.  This time for sleeping with an underage prostitute.  Whether or not this is true is not really the point.  The fact that a man of his political level is even accused of such a situation is a reflection on the rest of the nation.  In other countries this situation would not be tollerated and he would have been forced to stand down.
We have to ask why the most powerful man in Italy and one of the world's richest men (surely this should attract enough women alone) has to pay for sexual services.  We have to ask why in a technically catholic country that is still heavily influenced by the Vatican is this situation tollerated?
We have to ask why in a country that claims to be a democracy with a "modern and well written constitution" is he still permitted to stay in power.
The answers are many but a lot has to do with apathy and the phrase I hear often.."It is always like this here.  This is Italy!" 
However I am very interested in Italian history and especially leading up to the formation of Italy 150 years ago.  It has not always been like this.  Men like Camillo Benso of Caovour would be spinning in his grave as I write.  Garibaldi, a patriot who fought to build the  Italian state would be hopping mad  if he could see the current situation.  How has Italy descended into this circus?
It is difficult to say why but when you see how the politicians behave ( and are allowed to behave) you can begin to see why.  They are nothing but a bunch of self interested freeloaders who are on to a good thing.  When given the perfect opportunity to oust Mr B just before the end of December some of these representatives of the people decided that their own pockets held more sway than the people.  B. payed of a large number of them and strangely they voted in favour.  Nobody has since investigated this.  Certain parties seem to be more interested in having a share of power rather than sticking to their political principles.  Changing sides although an Italian habit, has never been honourable.  Those that sold out should stand down.

However it is not just the politicians who should be blamed.  The people themselves must take their share of guilt.  There are however mitigating circumstances for the people.  They have been so divided, demoralised, mislead and confused for the last 50 years or so that now no one trusts anyone else.  There is no coherent group to counter Berlusconi. 
This is the key to the whole process divide and conquer.  Create fear and you have control.  However the ony real thing in Italy that should be feared is Berlusconi.  It has taken generations to arrive in this state and it will take several corragious and dedicated generations to turn things around.  The future of Italy is now in the hands of the younger generations. 

Friday, 11 February 2011

2012 Olympics Road race

Although not exactly local news I thought it would be worth mentioning this.
Just released are the details of the 2012 Olympic road race route.  The circuit starts in the Mall in London and then wids itself out of London towards Guildford and Dorking before finishing back in the Centre of London.
thanks to BBC sports news
Apart from being a very picturesque route showcasing some of the less famous parts of London
it offers an excellent route for our cyclists.  The type of route that would certainly suit Cavendish with a great sprint finish.  ur riders will obviously have the advantage of knowing most of the roads in the area and we should see a podium finish or two.
We have great expextations for the GB squad especially after their victories in China.  Lets make sure we cyclists are out there givving them all the support they need!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Tour de France 2011

This year we have a bumper year for cycling fans.  Not only do we have two stages of the Tour de France with a stage finish at Pinerolo followed the next morning with a start again at Pinerolo but also we have been honored with the opening stage of the Giro at Veneria Reale and then the penultimate stage at the end of May with the Colle delle Finestra. 

Our B&B is well centred to offer a cycling experience second to none.  We will be running trips for all these events so that you can visit the stages as well as ride some of the other famous climbs here in the Alps.  Places are limited and we require riders to be of a competent level of fitness for these climbs.  The trips include a qualified guide, transport as well as transfers to and from Turin.  With hearty half board accommodation there will also be the opportunity to sample the delights of many of the local bars and cafes in the area.

To reserve your place or for more information  drop us a line

Friday, 4 February 2011

Yes I am still here!

It has been a long time since I have updated my blog. I could say that is because I have been so busy I have not had time to. However it would be more true to say that I have just not got round to writing anything and when I have I get hit by writer's block.
Now we are entering the second month of 2011 it is about time that I put digit to keyboard and write something even if it is just to let anyone know that finds this blog that the writer is still alive. With this post there are no photos but I will hopefully be updating the page more regularly this year and most comments will have accompanying photos.
Thanks for staying with me.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

French are defeated at Mutin, Piemonte wins new territory

301 years ago here at Fenestrelle was a French fortress. Built to block the Chisone Valley from marauding Waldensians and the Piemontese. On Sept 12 1708 after 3 weeks of battle the fortress fell to thePiemontese thanks to the help of Austrian and Hungarian allies and the rest is as they say "History".
Fenestrelle benefits not just from having the largest fortress in Europe but also from a string of fortifications that surround the area. Fort Mutin is just the most recent of these to begin to be uncovered and made accessible.

Exactly 301 years after that siege we have celebrated the rebirth of this ill feted fortification. A fort that followed a perfect text book design but however suffered from one lethal flaw. It was built in the base of the valley, surrounded on all sides by high mountain peaks from where the enemy could shoot down into the fort.
The great Vauban visited the fort in 1701 and would have had the fortress demolished if it was not for the fact that it had cost so much to build in the first place. He did however order the construction of several redoubts and fortifications around Fenestrelle of which Elmo, Tre Denti and Fort des Aguilles became incorporated into what we now know as The fortress of Fenestrelle. Thanks to this remedial work the fortress lasted for three weeks which was no mean feat when you consider it's position and the fact that 45 Piemontese cannon were firing 200 shots each per cannon per day.

This weekend saw a reconstruction of the siege and a demonstration by the Pietro Micca Association, well known in these parts for their revocation of the siege of Turin and Battle of Assietta.

The old walls of Mutin are now visible once again from afar thanks to the clearance of the overgrowing trees and clever illumination. This has once again turned Fenestrelle into the Gateway to the Alps.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Tour De France 2009 and Next year 2010

Ok the great race is over and it is fair to say that it was a great race for us Brits. Mark Cavendish winning more stages than any other rider and the great Bradley Wiggins coming 4th! I think we are going to see a bit more of these two next year in the Tour. Well done guys! We must not forget the other Brits who did well such as good old Charlie Wegelius. There is one nagging question however. Where was David Millar? Since he has been racing clean he is nowhere to be seen! Why is this? Maybe he was just not up to it? However it is certainly refreshing to see some excellent British cylists getting results and entertaining us without being prima donnas. Well done guys!

Here in Val Chisone we now wait with baited breath for the official announcement of the 2010 route which rumour has it will be passing outside our doorstep. I do hope so! Thsi years Giro was a great success even though it was marred by the fact that Di Luca was cheating- Doped on the CERA. It also means that he was cheating when he topped the Colle della Finestra in 2005. It seriously saddens me and it tarnishes the whole event.

On confirmation of next years routes our cycling holiday company Hannibal Cycling Tours will be offering a special package for the week that the tour passes through our area. Contact us to be placed on the priority mailing list for this event. We also arrange cycling and walking packages for small groups, clubs and associations.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Notte Bianca A Fenestrelle,( White night at Fenestrelle)

The holiday season has got off to a flying start this year with last weekend's Valaddo and this weekend's Notte Bianca (white night).
"What is the Valaddo?" I hear you ask and also "What is a white night?"
Lets answer these two questions in order.
The Valaddo.
The Valaddo is an annual get together by groups of people who share the heritage of Occitan culture. This is a cultural and linguistic group that covered the suthern part of France, Spain and the western Italian Alpine valleys. The traces of this culture can be clearly seen in the names of the French "department" of Langue d'Oc meaning those who speak Oc the language of Occitania.
It is an event that generally involves lots of dancing, singing and generally having fun. Serious enthusiasts will dress in traditional costume and show off their traditional dancing skills as well as talking in the almost lost language of Oc.

White nights
A white night or Notte Bianca as it is properly called is simply a great excuse for a good night out. It is a night that the shops stay open extra late and the streets are filled with music, entertainment and side shows. They have been very successful in the big cities with even the museums stayig open until the early hours. Here in Fenestrelle we have just held our own Notte Bianca. It may have been on a smaller scale but it still does not stop us having a good time!
The night was warm and balmy, the street was full of people and one of the great things about our little town is that all age groups were present and enjoying themselves. We had music, entertainers, good food and wine as well as being able to wander in and out of the shops that not only stayed open later but had made a special effort to welcome visitors.
apologies for the photo quality. These were taken by mobile phone camera.

Certianly Fenestrelle is not a Grand City with sophisticated entertainment but it is certainly a quiet little town that knows how to entertain and provide a relaxing location for a holiday!