A change of scenery today, being our rest day, so most of us are off to the Italian town of Aosta, 34kms down the valley by bus from our hotel.
A leisurely breakfast then onto the 8.40 bus which wound its way down the valley, through picturesque villages, hillsides strewn with vines impressive Chateaux perched over the rock faces, and into city with the most preserved Roman ruins in Italy.
We were met at the bus stop by our guide for the morning, Elizabeth, who proceeded to spend the next three hours delivering us to all the main historical sites, filling us with information about the Roman way of life, giving us a sense of how the village would have looked in ancient times.
First to the Criptoportico Forense which is amongst the best preserved archaeological vestigial from the Roman era.
Next the Museo Archeologico Regionale, exhibiting many pieces from the 8th millennium BC until the Middle Ages.
Onwards through the old town, all the while being serenaded by the most beautiful hymn music, being piped through speakers hanging from the ancient stone wall around the cobblestones laneways, and originating from the basilica in the heart of town.
As luck would have it today is the most religious day on the towns calendar, a public holiday to celebrate the patron saint of the Valle D’Aosta, Di San Grata.
As we were moving around town so was the procession to honour Di San Grata, the highlight of which was the bronze casket holding his relics.
The atmosphere was mesmerising, the music hauntingly beautiful, it was such an honour to be able to witness this most auspicious occasion.
Leeanne was genuinely moved to tears by the spiralling choral notes.
As the parade moved past us we continued under the last remaining watchtower hovering over town, sitting on the ruins of the protective city wall.
On to the Teatro Romano, with its 22 metre high southern facade giving a wonderful foreground to the soaring Alps behind, before finishing our tour at the old city limits and a remarkably well preserved Roman archway.
Those Romans sure knew how to make a building that stood the test of time!
Phew…time for lunch in a great Italian restaurant surrounded by a terrific stone way with refreshing beer garden of grass and shaded trees, then a last look around before heading back to Courmayeur at about 3.30pm.
Relax, maybe a beer or Spritz (which our hotel excels at!) then off for tea at another Italian bistro, expertly chosen by Gemma & Liz who didn’t join us in Aosta, as they had already been there before Chamonix.
A last wander around town, then maybe a red or two (thanks for the magnum, Specks!) back at the hotel, then it was probably time for bed…we do have to walk again tomorrow.