Piedmont, Italy — Seeing All the Things

I am now entering the fourth week of being in this beautiful town and I have only fallen deeper in love. I always thought that the real appeal of Italy was Venice, Tuscany or on the Amalfi Coast, and perhaps there is appeal there, but I have found so much love for the Piedmont (northwest) region of Italy. If you consider yourself a “mountains” person, this is the place for you! I always said I was a mountains person but in my mind I would think of how refreshing the ocean is on a hot day… but after hiking in a certain mountain range here, it is absolutely confirmed that I am indeed a mountains person. I would also toy with city vs country; I believed I was a country person, but being young and loving nightlife I have recently swayed more towards city. Being here, though, I can also confirm that I am much more of a country person.

Last weekend my wonderful host family took me to Turin, a big city in Italy on the same level of tourism as Rome, Milan, etc. We first visited a museum I had been keen to see: Museo Egizio!!! There are many pictures from this wondrous experience but here are a few of my favorites:

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If you really knew me, you’d know that as a kid I had a very odd obsession with Egypt and all of those kid fantasies came true as I walked through room after room of artifacts. The way the Egyptians cared for and preserved their dead was and still is so fascinating to me. On the left is a “portrait” of (sheesh I wish I remembered their names)… and on the right is the very tip of a (REAL LIFE) pyramid.

Next in our city excursion we went to a very tall building with an outstanding view of the entire city of Turin.

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I’d always seen photos of views like this, but looking at it with my own eyes was an experience to be had. All of the roofs were a wonderful red and the buildings themselves were light colored, making their roofs pop out even more.

Now back to what I said about city vs country: cities are wonderful and have so much character and culture to give, but I don’t really enjoy having to clutch my bag so tightly and second guess anyone who looks my way more than once (and my goodness, I guess I look different than everyone here but I get stared at more than the average different-looking-person, I’m convinced). The amount of people pulsing through the streets of the city is great for people watching and the smells of pizzeria after pizzeria is more than satisfying… not to mention the centuries old architecture. Truly I say, every single building here is endlessly beautiful:

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and yet, what makes my heart flutter the most is the countryside views.

The next story I’m going to tell needs this preface: I never know what is going on. The family will tell me about things we are going to do many days in advance, but in the flurry I forget or didn’t fully understand what exactly was going to happen in the first place. I’ve taken on the attitude of always being ready to leave (wearing real clothes the whole day *insert sad face* and keeping shoes close by) at a moment’s notice and always keeping an open mind for whatever is on the other side.

On this particular day, all I knew was that we were going for a walk in the mountains and it wouldn’t be too strenuous (perfect hehe). After a long and particularly bumpy moto ride, we arrived at the bottom of the most beautiful mountains I have ever seen. We walked up a little hill, turned a corner and I was slapped in the face with this:

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I can truly say that I have never seen that much green in my entire life. Me saying that is probably getting old at this point but WHAT! Okay so we made our way through the trail and I, very happily, followed along periodically dipping my feet into the creek next to us. During these little excursions, they always try to tell me as much as possible about what I am seeing (at SOME point…) and this time, I learned about where I was when we were halfway through the adventure.

He asked me if I had heard of World War II and told me that the Alps were used as a sort of hide out. I blankly looked at him internally wondering what was up with the history lesson, and he added, “where we are is named Alps.” My eyes bulged, my jaw dropped and suddenly the breathtaking view had officially taken my breath and I stood there gawking at the mountains around me. I WAS IN THE ALPS??? I had no idea… he laughed at me when all I could say was, “we’ve been in the Alps this whole time and you didn’t tell me!?!” So yes, a large check has been added to my bucket list: I have hiked in the Alps and I didn’t even know it.

I have just two weeks left here and I am finding myself ready for the next adventure. Once I leave here, I will be dropped off in Nice, France for my first official “solo” adventure as I venture through France by myself for 10 days. After Nice I will head north to Paris, then meet up with friends to explore Santorini (Greece), Prague (Czech Republic), Zürich (Switzerland), and Amalfi Coast (southern Italy). I can’t start thinking about Eegees just yet… I’m only at the beginning of this summer of a lifetime. 🙂

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