Today we said goodbye to our little vineyard and headed down the valley to Soglio, where the Festa di San Michele a Soglio di Orero will be held on Sunday–the centerpiece of our vacation.
Checkout time from Ronco delle Rose was at ten, so most of us dutifully reported to breakfast shortly after 8:00. Robert, Elizabeth, and John had made arrangements to go horseback riding at a local ranch, so they packed their luggage and headed off while the rest of us took a bit more time to clear out. Our prearranged meeting place was–of course–La Vecchia Statione, where we visited one last time with the proprietor, cousin Francesco Costa. After goodbyes, we paid a visit to the town square to pick up some items at the farmacia and the bakery, and then took off for Soglio.
Bettola, where we’ve been, is at one end of the Fontanabuona Valley in the northern Appenines; Soglio is at the other end of the valley. As the crow flies, they are about 50 km apart, but the driving distance is about 100 km. The drive, almost entirely on narrow mountain switchback roads, is slow; it takes about 2-1/2 hours, and it’s challenging for both the drivers (Lew and Rob) and passengers.
The last time I was here, in 2013, there was an Irish pub here right next to the church. For some reason that establishment went out of business, and the building is now the site of a charming bed and breakfast, Locanda del Sale, that will be our home for the next four nights.
In a sense, we’re going back in time, reversing the progression made by some of our ancestors, who, almost 200 years ago, left Soglio and the nearby hill town of Romaggi seeking opportunity in Bettola, whence their children moved to America. And we have finally arrived at the destination which serves as the anchor of this trip!
After unloading the cars, we made a shopping expedition to the IperCoop in Carasco. IperCoops are a chain of “hypermarkets,” similar to a Target back home. (I think “Iper” rhymes with “hyper,” and “coop” has two syllables.) This IperCoop was in an actual honest-to-God indoor shopping center! We finished close to dinner time, so we regrouped back at Locanda del Sale and headed out to dinner at a recommended pizza place–from which we returned well-fed, tired, and ready for bed.
Today’s photo: This is the view from the parking lot of Locanda del Sale, right next to the parking lot of the Church of San Michele. Most of the valley below is in the comune of Orero, which includes Soglio. (Lesson in Italian municipal divisions to follow.)