We were up early, at 6:00 am, and feeling in the (time) zone. We dallied over the extensive continental breakfast that had been part of the tariff for the hotel I booked on the web before we left home. Emily enjoyed the selection of muesli, yoghurt, cold meats and cheese but her favourite was the petit pain chocolat – Danish style pastry filled with chocolate. By 8:00 am we were back on the road and heading north towards Milano and the Swiss border.
On the way we stopped off at Parma, hoping to find some Parmesan cheese because we had slipped on our plans to eat spaghetti bolognaise in Bologna. We didn’t find any parmesan cheese but we did take a short walk around the city, visit the 900 year old cathedral and enjoy gelati with strawberries. We also managed to take rather longer to find our way out of the city than in.
We stopped briefly in Domodossola where we found an open super market and bought some lunch. We also tried again, without success, to use my telecard to call Jane and used the mobile to make a brief call so that she would know we had arrived safely. Then we were back on the road and heading for Sempione and the Simplon Pass to cross the Alps from Italy into Switzerland. Majella started to get anxious about our arrival in Sierre, put her foot down and declined to stop for more photographs or to allow anybody else to drive. Emily and I had to resort to taking photographs from the rapidly moving car.
We were allowed one quick stop to record our crossing of the border between Italy and Switzerland. Then we were off with all the considerable speed that Majella could muster over the mountains to Brig and down the valley to Sierre. We arrived there around 4:00 pm and were greeted at the cure by Marie-Francoise, Roland and Michel. After a brief pause for refreshments we were off to Serafino, the house they have bought on the northern side of the valley above the city.
Serafino is perched on the hillside with a spectacular view across the city towards the entrance to the Val d’Anniviers, Michel’s home valley and, in his words, the most beautiful valley in the world. After dinner we walked north along the hillside through the vineyards and some of the old areas where the nomadic people of the valleys spent their winters. We spent some time exploring the grounds of the Chateau Mercier and climbed an old observation tower for a better view of the city. By the time we walked back to Serafino it was almost 10:00 pm. The sunlight was just disappearing from the snow on the peaks of the Val d’Anniviers – the end of a long and eventful day.