Months before our trip Ilaria and her husband Gianluca biked to the “Birth of the Po River” and sent us this photo of them there.

 

When we visited on our tour Ilaria took a photo of us in the same pose as they had and then we later photoshopped all of us together.

 

Due to our knee (Juergen) and hip (Yvonne) problems in 2016 we sadly feel there will be no more biking tours for us. Our biking tours started in 2002 in Canyonlands, Utah and have been in Vietnam, Cambodia, Panama, Costa Rica, Sikkim (India), Morocco, and now the 4th time in Italy.

 

Therefore, this website is to be a celebration of biking tours away from home.

 

There’ll be lots of photos just to show the landscape that Juergen biked through.

 

It’s also a memory for us, both of us, even though Yvonne was following along in the van with Ilaria…and photographing as we drove.

 

 

Map

We had a day before the tour started in Genoa (at right).

From there we went east to Portofino before going west along the Italian Riviera in Liguria, and then north into Piedmont, ending the tour in Turin, its capital.

 

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From Portofino, we took a small ferry to the 13C-14C Abbazia di San Fruttuoso, which is hidden in this cove.

The abbey has been a monastery, a pirate’s den, a fisherman’s home, and then the residence of a princess.

It’s now an interesting museum.

 

The view out of the Abbey. Our boat docked just beyond those black rocks in the center of the photo.

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An Abbey interior photo.

 

Portofino is so famous – and this is how small it is!

 

 

 

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We climbed to the Basilica di Montallegro (1896) which was on the very top of a hill about 1800’ above sea level – inland from the resort town of Rapallo.

 

Fortunately we could drive most of the way up but Yvonne and her crutch had to make it up these stairs and more.

 

Another Italian Riviera town is Rapallo. This is just one end of its big harbor.

 

 

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We had dinner in a wonderful seafood restaurant.

 

Ilaria included this day to show us “bikes-ville”! Italians are really into bikes. To get here (Colle del Melogno) requires many miles of grinding up steep switchbacks.

This is the starting point for many different dirt trails and narrow roads down to the bottom. Some bikers pay for the transportation of their bikes up the hill (like the vehicles in the back of the photo). That way they can make many trips down the hill in a day. We drove up and Juergen went down a narrow road that had no traffic – just amazing sea views.

Lots of French and German bikers come here to train also. It’s all beautiful forest.      

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We’ve put many biking photos of Juergen in this website as a memory of the different areas he biked through during this 18-day bike tour.

 

We hope this gives a good impression of what a bike tour in this region is like!

 

 

 

The end of the ride is down there.

 

 

 

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A view from the ride of the Italian Riviera.

 

We stopped and walked into the tiny picturesque old Borgio Verezzi village.

 

 

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The bike ride ended near the town of Finalborgo.

 

Yvonne is standing at the entrance to our hotel, right across from the Campanile of San Biagio which is inside the old city’s walls.

 

 

 

This is the Interior of the basilica di San Biagio which was finished 1650.

 

 

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Juergen wasn’t the only rider who finished the day here.

 

Bikes/bikers were everywhere.

 

We were surprised to find quite a few bikes like ours at home (Santa Cruz).

 

This bike costs $10,000 in Italy.

 

 

 

A little square in town. There are no kickstands on mountain bikes!

 

 

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Ilaria didn’t only plan the biking for us – she also carefully selected restaurants.

 

On this tour, when we ordered squid ink spaghetti, that’s what we got. It was very black.

 

 

 

Ilaria also selected very special hotels that she knew we’d like.

 

Like this one in Bordighera where we stayed two nights. This tower is 1.5 rooms wide and 5 floors high. It has a little circular staircase. It was a bit of a challenge for Yvonne and her crutch – but it was worth it. We were on the 3rd floor.

 

Breakfast was on the top – sitting up here we were the highest point in this hill town (except for the church steeple). What a fantastic view!

 

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Our van at left; Juergen about to start a new day at this flat place in town.

 

 

 

Unfortunately, there was no biking for Yvonne this trip. So Juergen’s biking days had the pattern: Ilaria and Yvonne stopped and waited for Juergen, then they passed him, drove awhile, then stopped and waited for him again. And so on.

 

We caught him here just as he was going past.

 

 

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We love this photo with the cruise ship in the background.

 

Two ways to travel…

 

 

 

There is a many-mile long rail-to- trail right along the coast. In the past, the train used to bring tourists from all over Europe to the Italian Riviera.

 

Juergen biked through many old train tunnels before arriving in San Remo.

 

 

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Juergen shirt colors match the flowers!

 

 

 

San Remo.

 

 

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Seafood lunch along the ride – right on the beach.

 

It was very special.

 

 

 

Dolceaqua is located on the border with France.

 

It is mostly known for the castle which is believed to date back to the 11thC. 

 

 

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See Yvonne on the bridge? We really liked the bridge!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Center of town. The narrow lanes to up in several directions from here.

 

 

 

 

 

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Juergen is holding a bike pedal bag that Siciclando gives their clients.

 

We surprised Ilaria by having it stuffed with little Aperol Spritz bottles.

 

It was our happy hour drink of choice on this tour.

 

 

 

Chiesa di Santa Giustina (9th C, reconstructed 18th C.)

 

 

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Yep. The lucky guy is going to bike from here (Perinaldo) to the sea!

 

It was a lovely drive up through many small villages to get here.

 

 

 

This photo was taken towards the starting point in the previous photo from a point a bit down the hill.

 

 

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It wasn’t all downhill! Juergen is still using the regular bike.

 

 

 

The ride was always in site of the sea.

 

The coast road is shown going over the valley on a long bridge and into a tunnel. It does this over and over as it travels the coast.

 

 

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Almost down! The water is such a beautiful color.

 

 

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Arriving in Saluzzo, where we spent two nights.

 

Juergen is turning into the narrow street which leads to our next hotel.

 

 

 

In Saluzzo we stayed in a converted monastery for three nights, the San Giovanni Resort. This is the old cloisters part of the hotel.

 

The Chiesa di San Giovanni (1330-1504) in the background is active.

 

 

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Chiesa e Convento di S. Giovanni from the street.

 

Our hotel was on the far side of it.

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Inside the church with its patches of medieval frescoes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the view of Montviso (12,601’)  that we should have had for more than a week. We never saw it – it is famous for fog!

 

Months after we returned home Ilaria sent us this photo and we’re adding it to our website. She wrote that every time she sees it, she thinks of us.

 

We stayed in Saluzzo two days in order to hike at the base of the mountain (where the hikers start to climb to the top).

 

The Monviso is famous for being stand-alone and for its shape.

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The program called for going to the base of Monviso and doing some hiking.

 

We drove to the end of the road which was also the end of the visibility as we were almost in the clouds. We couldn’t see Monviso at all.

 

We did walk to the Birth of the Po River spot and take photos, but Yvonne couldn’t cross slippery snowy places on the trail with the crutch. So no hike.

 

The building at background left had a mountain restaurant and we had a nice traditional lunch.

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Qui Nasce il Po: The Birth of the Po River.

 

 

 

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The famous blue gentian.

 

 

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Arriving at Staffarda Abbey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chiesa di Santa Maria di Straffada (1154 started)

 

Juergen biked to the Staffarda Abbey, a Cistercian monastery near Saluzzo that began in 1150.

 

This abbey became an important center for improving and teaching farming techniques.

 

 

 

Inside Staffarda Abbey.

 

 

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The cloisters of the Staffarda Abbey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This photo is of a postcard.

 

This is Staffarda Abbey with Montviso behind.

 

This is the way the mountain “should have” been a big part of our trip – if it had decided to come out of the clouds!

 

 

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Juergen and his dashboard (he’s in front of the bike for the picture)!

 

For the first half of the tour Juergen rode the regular bike, then he decided to try the e-bike as we had paid for it in case his knee gave him trouble.

 

He was an ear-to-ear grinning rocket-powered biker from then on.

 

Left to Right:

 

Our Garmin Edge GPS,

the control for this e-bike,

Siciclando’s GPS, and another Garmin Etrex of ours.

 

His biking stats for the entire trip are for the regular bike: 6 days, 99 mi, 3226’ vertical; e-bike: 6 days,142 mi, 11500’ vertical.

 

Biking through towns like this is very nice!

 

It was rare that our itinerary had other tourists or bikers.

 

 

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Hill towns are everywhere in Piedmont too – love Italy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Most of the scenic shots were taken from the moving van.

 

Ilaria designed many rides along the top of ridges so we had amazing views over farms, and later over vineyards.

 

The orchards here have apples, pears, and kiwis.

 

 

 

 

Barolo and Barbaresco are famous wines in Piedmont. We saw a T-shirt and used the image on it for the background for this website.

 

We had a tour and wine tasting at the Marchesi di Barolo winery, which was founded in 1861.

 

These barrels were very old.

 

 

 

 

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Another beautiful hotel, this one in Monforte d’Alba: look at that view!

 

 

 

A tele-view from our hotel room. 

 

 

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Getting ready to leave Monforte d’Alba. Looking down from our hotel room to see Ilaria working.

 

 

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Bike tour views (and for Yvonne, views from the van).

 

 

 

These photos are taken as went through the UNESCO Langhe Hills on our way to Alba.

 

 

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View.

 

 

 

View.

 

 

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View from the bike route .

 

 

 

Hazelnuts are a very important crop in this area.

 

Cortemilia is known for its production of one of the most famous types of hazelnut, the Tonda Gentile di Langa.

 

 

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The city of Alba where we stayed two nights.

 

 

 

 

A tele-shot of Alba.

 

 

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Juergen biking up to our B&B in Alba.

 

 

 

 

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View to the Cathedral tower from our B&B in Alba!

 

Siciclando really puts us in the main square!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The beautifully carved and inlaid choir stalls date from 1512.

 

 

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Lunch in Alba.

 

 

Beefsteak Tartare Piedmont.

 

Gianluca, Ilaria’s husband drove to Alba to meet us. It’s about an hour’s drive from where they live in Turin.

 

We spent the day in town and Ilaria had an afternoon to bike with Gianluca. They went a long way!

 

 

 

 

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Aperol Spritz with Ilaria and Gianluca.

 

 

 

 

View.

 

 

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This photo was taken through the back window of our van of Juergen climbing up the hill.

 

 

 

View.

 

 

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View.

 

 

 

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Interesting town.

 

 

 

View.

 

 

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Ilaria prepared a delicious picnic.

 

 

 

SURPRISE!

 

Paolo!

 

…and his trumpet!

 

What a nice surprise to be serenaded as we drove up to our hotel. We had no idea they’d arrange for us to see him!

 

 

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The craziness started again right away!

 

Paolo was our guide on our first two Siciclando trips: Apulia (Italy’s “heel” of the boot) and Sicily, where we climbed the Stromboli volcano together in addition to our biking. We tried to throw Paolo into the active volcano.

 

He survived.

 

 

 

Paolo played trumpet with Italy’s best classical orchestra until he wanted something different.

 

He guided for Siciclando (led 2 of our tours) before teaching SCUBA in Madagascar.

 

He then spent 6 months on a cruise ship playing in the orchestra.

 

The ship started in Australia, hit lots of Islands, Central and South America (both W and E) before crossing the Atlantic. He wound up in Norway, we think.

 

He designs biking tours for Siciclando now as well as teaches water aerobics (men).

 

We wonder what’s next for him?

 

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Ilaria and Paolo are great fun nice intelligent people. It’s an honor to be able to spend so much time with them.

 

 

 

Yvonne photographed every clock tower she saw (fortunately, they’re not all in this). The time was ALWAYS accurate to the minute!

 

 

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Vineyards.

 

 

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Again the shirt matched the flowers.

 

 

 

Well, here’s another clock tower.

 

They were all exactly on time!

 

 

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View.

 

 

 

 

 

 

San Secondo d’Asti once served as the parish church to workers of the world’s largest vineyard.

 

Finished in 1462 after 200 years of work.

 

 

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We stayed in Asti two nights. It dates back 2000 years and is in the heart of Piedmont’s wine country.

 

 

 

 

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Asti Cathedral

 

 

 

The Cathedral (Duomo) Our Lady of the Assumption in Asti

 

 

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We love poppies…

 

 

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…and bachelor buttons…

 

This valley is the only place in Italy where they store hay in buildings this way.

 

It used to be common; we had to really search for examples.

 

 

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Lunch in Moncalvo.

 

 

 

 

The very top of the hill in Moncalvo.

 

 

 

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We visited a nougat factory.

 

 

 

One of the oldest nougat factories is in Asti.

 

 

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A nice collection of Aperol Spritzes!

 

 

 

 

Basilica di Don Bosco, east of Turin.

 

This is “new” (finished 1966). We visited it because it is on a hilltop with a good view over Turin and because it is very popular. It is very large.

 

 

 

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Santa Maria di Vezzolano Augustine Monastery

In Albugnano.

 

12th – 13th c.

 

Likely started in the 8thC with a church here. This was started in 1095. Legend has it that it dates to 773, a year when Charlemagne hunted here.

 

This is one of Piedmont’s best preserved ancient monuments.

 

The Romanesque façade is original with three rows of blind arches.

 

 

 

An unusual feature in the abbey is the narthex which is supported by five ogee arches on columns decorated with capitals depicting leaves and buds.

 

Above this is a bas-relief depicting the Virgin’s 35 ancestors and Maria’s body arriving in paradise.

 

 

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The Adoration of Magi, a 14thC fresco.

 

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This is a view from our Cannon d’Oro hotel room in Cocconato d’Asti.

 

 

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Ilaria and Juergen deep in discussion that requires a smart phone…

 

…instead of enjoying the delicious food and wine!

 

Why do we do this?

 

An old Latin (appropriate for the area) proverb explains it:

Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis (Times change, and we change with them).

 

 

 

Our room was above Juergen on the 3rd floor.

 

Ilaria carried our bags up and down. So nice of her.

 

 

 

 

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Here comes our bag. She’s even smiling!

 

 

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View to Turin from a basilica we visited at the top of a mountain that is very popular with bikers as it is very steep.

 

 

 

 

Turin (Torino). The capitol of Piedmont and our last days.

 

A grand finale for sure!

 

View from our room located on the second floor directly on the main square.

 

Here Ilaria (opening the door of the van) is leaving us to go home (she lives in Turin).

 

 

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Directly across from our room was the Palazzo Madama.

 

 

 

Our room had the 3 windows right over the big arched doorway.

 

What a location. Ilaria found an incredible place for us.

 

One of the main streets, Via Garibaldi, here a walking street, is between our building and the next.

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The Palazzo Reale is the other end of this large square.

 

The royal palace was built by the Savoys, the family that ruled much of Piedmont for 900 years – from 1052 up to 1946!

 

Where the Medici in Florence ruled supreme with power initially based on commercial prowess, the power of the counts of Savoy was based on feudal dominance, shrewd diplomacy, dynastic marriages and military intervention.

 

 

 

We were lucky and stayed here our last two nights.

 

We had a just a 1.5’ deep balcony with no furniture, but it was enough for the three of us to have hors d’oeuvres each afternoon. Lovely!

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This is part of the ceiling of our very modern room. They salvaged what they could of a formerly very elegant room.

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Another part of the ceiling.

 

The modern part of the room had a painting on the wall.

 

It was a great room, not only because it had a great location on the square.

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This is looking out our side window down the Via Garibaldi.

 

It was sunset and the sun was coming directly down the street.

 

Via Garibaldi is Turin’s main shopping street and Europe’s longest pedestrianized thoroughfare.

 

 

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…and then the sun, solstice-like, made a beam across the square and onto the Palace.

 

It was really amazing!

 

Caffe San Carlo was a patriotic bastion during the Risorgimento (Italian nationalism in the 1860s-1870s) and later became popular with artists, writers and statesmen.

 

Not a bad place for breakfast rolls!

 

 

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Real Chiesa di San Lorenzo.

 

The sun illuminates an opening above the cupola. The rays illuminate the top of the cupola.

 

 

 

This image is only visible a few minutes a few days a year as it is illuminated by the opening above.

 

We were lucky and were here on that day!

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We took this picture of someone’s arm who has been crucified. It’s not clear how and where nails were driven into the arm in ancient times. The painter assumed it was into the lower arm just above the hand.

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The architect was a mathematician who played with optical effects.

 

The ground plan is a kind of square which becomes an octagon at the level above the columns only to become a Greek cross at the level of the vaults.

 

Here the light shining into the two openings is evident – which illuminates the paintings within.

 

Royal Chiesa di San Lorenzo.

 

This is the place they keep the famous Turin Shroud. A photograph of the shroud is shown just behind the glass window

 

 

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In 1848 Piedmont’s ruler issued a law that provided for religious freedom.

 

In 1862, Turin’s Jewish elders commissioned architect Antonelli to build a very tall synagogue.

 

After six years’ work they ran out of construction money. Antonelli petitioned the city for money to finish the project and got it.

 

This Mole Antonelliana (Antonelli’s Vast Structure) became at 549’ Europe’s highest brick-and-iron building.

 

For most of the 1900s it wasn’t much used.

 

It has recently been restored and is home of the National Museum of Cinema (20th C moviemaking started here).

 

An elevator goes right up the middle giving a view of some of the film museum displays as it goes.

 

 

The Mole Antonelliana has recently been restored and is home of the National Museum of Cinema (20th C moviemaking started here).

 

An elevator goes right up the middle giving a view of some of the film museum displays as it goes.

 

 

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These photos (following) were taken in all directions from the observation deck of the Mole Antonelliana.

 

 

 

 

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This is a tele-shot of the top of a mountain of this basilica we visited and took a photo of Turin.

 

Now here’s a photo taken back!

 

 

 

 

Castello-Reggia di Venaria Reale is just 6 miles north of Turin. It was begun in 1660 as aa hunting lodge for Carlo Emanuele II; the French badly damaged it during the Siege of Turin in 1706.

 

It was rebuilt in 1714 in a grander scale and became one of the Savoy’s grandest palaces.

 

 

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The Venaria Reale is gradually being restored.

 

This Galleria di Diana with beautiful plaster work and striking black and white pavement is already available to visit.

 

We visited on our way to the airport which ended this wonderful trip through Liguria and Piedmont with Ilaria.

 

 

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