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March 4, 2008

next stop, Acqui Terme

My first visit to Piemonte was in 2006. I spent four nights in Saluzzo followed by five nights in Torino. During one of my days in Torino, I did a daytrip to Asti and Acqui Terme.

Asti had been a town high up on my list of places to visit after reading about all the towers in the town years earlier. I love towers, taking pictures of towers, and climbing towers. I have a few posts about towers on this blog.

My reason to visit Acqui Terme was more personal. I had communicated with Diana Bauer during the planning phase of my 2006 trip to Italy. She was extremely helpful. We made plans to meet while I was in Torino. I was delighted that we would be able to meet and spend time together during my trip that year. I wanted to thank her in person for all of her help.

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April 13, 2008

an entertaining museum

For those contemplating or planning a visit to Torino, I would highly recommend a visit to La Mole Antonelliana and the Museo Nazionale del Cinema (National Museum of Cinema). I spent 5 days in Torino in July, 2006 and visited the Cinema Museum twice.

La Mole Antonelliana is the tallest building in Torino and at one time it was the tallest building in the world. The Museo Nazionale del Cinema is located inside La Mole Antonelliana.

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April 15, 2008

the incredible Museo Egizio

Another museum I would highly recommend visiting while in Torino is the Museo Egizio (Egyptian Museum). My Torino card also worked for this museum.

After purchasing my ticket, it took me a few minutes to find the entrance to the museum because there were two different displays in the building. I found the entrance and wandered around the first room. This room held ancient rocks, dishes, pottery, jewelry, etc.

When I finished looking at all of the displays, I could not figure out where to go to find the next room. I went to ask the man sitting outside the entrance to the museum. He was not very friendly. I named him "crabby man." Instead of nicely pointing where to go, he yelled "sotto, sotto" at me, which meant downstairs. I found the stairway and headed to the next section of the museum.

I was in utter amazement when I entered this portion of the museum. I spent quite a while looking at each exhibit. I could not believe that we were actually allowed to take pictures in this amazing room! The only limitation was no flash.

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July 2, 2008

arrival in Acqui Terme

Monday, June 30th

After my last wonderful breakfast at Hotel Jolanda in Santa Margherita Ligure and some last minute packing, I gave the front desk the key (I already paid my bill the night before), was refunded for the internet access problems (which really worked out in my favor), and headed to the train station. The walk was not far although there was a steep hill at the end of the walk just before reaching the train station. I figured out a way to hook all my bags together. I have been very happy with my new system of 2 rolling bags (both a bit smaller and lighter) rather than a larger backpack on my back and a larger rolling bag. So far, I have always been offered help when getting on or off a train and it has not been that difficult carrying the bags down and up the stairs in the underpasses at the train stations.

When I arrived at the train station, I was very glad that I purchased my ticket the day before since the ticket window was closed. I read on the monitor that the train would be 5 minutes "in ritardo" (late). I found a nice bench to sit on and waited for the train. A few minutes later an older but very feisty woman sat next to me. As the mystery woman announced that the train we were both taking to Genova would now be 10 minutes late, she started rambling on to me in Italian about how all the trains in the area are always late and that the next announcement will tell us that the train will be 15 and then 20 minutes late. She must have taken the train that was 30 minutes late on Wednesday since she was referring about that train while telling me about the Italian train system.

After a few minutes of train conversation, she asked where I was from and then started talking politics. She wanted to know why the US did not want a woman to be president. Then she wanted to know what I thought of Obama and his wife. She then asked me what the name of the "vecchio" (old) man was that was also running for president. We talked politics until the train arrived. She said it was a miracle that the train was only 10 minutes late. That was perfect for me since I would be able to still catch my connecting train if my first train was only 10 minutes late.

As the train arrived, we both went to board. She boarded first and then grabbed one of my rolling bags for me. I was surprised with her strength. Another kind man grabbed my other rolling bag. I followed the woman into one of the train cars. I debated whether or not to sit with her since I was ready to move on from the conversation about politics. I thought it would be rude though to not sit with here. The train was a regional train and so there are only 2nd class train cars. It was not very full so there was lots of space for luggage to be kept right by your seats which was nice.
I changed the subject to Genova once we sat down. She wanted to know what I did when I visited Genova. The train ride was quite pleasant. As we went by each station, she told me more about that area.

The train gods were looking out for me. We arrived on binario (platform/track) one! I LOVE binario uno because that means no stairs!! My connecting train was at the tronco place - a walk down to the end of binario 1 where two more little tracks were on the left with no stairs!

As I walked toward the tronco, I saw that there was a train at binario 2. I asked a train person (you can tell who they are by their green and blue outfits) if that was the Acqui train. He seemed to think it was and I figured that it had to be since it was set to leave in 10 minutes. I boarded the trian and found a seat by the entrance inside one of the train cars with a space for my luggage. A woman and her little dog got on board and sat nearby. She placed one of those little diaper paper things on the seat and then her dog hopped on. I snuck a cute photo of the dog while she was busy talking on the phone. She probably would have posed for me but I was too shy to ask.

The train ride was very pleasant. I worked on a couple of sudoku puzzles until we arrived. Jan (jgk) called me the day before offering to pick me up at the train station. I was thrilled since I was not sure how to get to the little place where we were both staying. I am still lost today (Wednesday) after being in Acqui Terme for 2 days and so I am sure that it would have made for an interesting time if I had to find the place on my own. I don't remember seeing any taxis at the station when I arrived.

I met Jan at the entrance of the train station when I arrived. We drove to a parking lot near our place. We are staying in rooms above a restaurant called La Loggia. Jan got the single room (booked ahead first) and I have a double room. My room is huge and quite comfortable. There is a great bathroom and a wonderful hairdryer!! Having a good hairdryer is not something that often happens, even in the nicest hotels.

After unpacking a few things, we went out to have a gelato. The gelateria had huge mounds of many flavors, both fruit and creme flavors. I introduced Jan to peach gelato. It was my first time having peach on this trip. We walked around the town some and then headed back to our rooms since everything was closed for the afternoon.

Later in the afternoon, we went out to Diana's for a short visit. I was so impressed with her new kitchen. It was great seeing her again. For dinner, we ate at a place that had a wonderful pesto, pomodoro (tomato) and creme sauce. I ordered spinach and ricotta ravioli with this sauce. I also ordered a caprese salad. This caprese salad was missing the basil. The buffalo mozzarella was one big mound in the middle and the tomato slices surrounded the cheese. It was really a meal in itself.

Well, that sums up my first day/night in Acqui Terme. I will write more soon.

Ciao!!

July 3, 2008

enjoying Acqui Terme

Tuesday & Wednesday, July 1 & 2

Tuesday was my first full day in Acqui Terme. Jan and I went to breakfast (espresso and a brioche - typical Italian breakfast) at a bar nearby. She was heading to her Italian class. I went with her partway so that she could show me the tourist info spot. A map and info on the town is always wonderful to have. I spent the morning wandering around the town. I found a pretty big grocery store where I bought some yogurt and water.

Later in the morning, while continuing to wander, I decided to try to find this place I remember stopping in two years ago when I was with Diana to have lunch and also possibly to use their computer. I was not having much luck and seemed to be walking in circles. As I was standing near the outside fruit market area, I heard my name being called. I figured at first the person had to be calling someone else since Jan was still in school. It took me a minute before I realized it was Diana. She was in town doing errands. She showed me this beautiful courtyard and then took me to Balala (the place I was looking for).

I had a wonderful pomodoro and mozarella sandwich for lunch. All the computers were occupied after I finished my sandwich, so instead, I tried to find Jolly Blu, an internet place Jan mentioned. I was not able to find it so instead I had a gelato. Later when I met up with Jan, she brought me to Jolly Blu where I bought an internet card which gave me I think 3 hours total of time. After we both spent time using the computers, we stopped in a little shop where she bought some mushrooms to take back home and I bought some pecorino cheese to have for breakfast with my yogurt.

When I returned to my room, Jan was in her room. We both hung out for a while in our rooms catching up on the news and then went out for dinner. We ate at a little restaurant nearby. We both had the pasta with zucchini. It was just ok. The waiter was very nice. He may also be the owner. After dinner when we were leaving he asked me if I could show him how to crop a picture on his computer. I tried to do it using a couple of his programs, but all the menu items were in italian and I could not find the crop tool. We finally suggested that he download Picasa.

Wednesday morning, I spent more time wandering around, looking in some of the shops, and taking more photos. I was starting to figure out how some of the streets connect, but Acqui for some reason is a confusing place for me. The streets don't really go in a grid. I found the Jolly Blu on my own and spent some time on the computer and then met Jan for lunch. We went to her classmate, Elizabeth's apartment and had a wonderful lunch. Elizabeth is from Denver and is now living in Acqui Terme. Her apartment was amazing.

After lunch, Jan showed me how to get to the train station. I was planning to do daytrips to places nearby on Thursday and Friday. I took photos along the way just in case I got lost. After our walk to the train station, we went into this beautiful garden area, which had wonderful views. The weather has been perfect for me since I have been here - not too hot and not too cold. I have not used my AC yet.

For dinner, we stopped at a huge grocery store to pick up some food and went out to Diana's place for a wonderful dinner. I met Diana's friend, Birgit, who has been staying there for a few weeks. After about an hour, another friend of Diana's, Gregorio arrived. We had a wonderful evening laughing at all of his hilarious stories. The food Diana and Birgit made was so delicious. The best I have had yet in Acqui Terme. It was a wonderful evening of food and laughter.

July 4, 2008

daytrip to Alessandria

Thursday, July 3

I had a difficult time getting up Thursday morning after our evening at Diana's place. I wanted coffee but also wanted to sleep as late as possible. Sleep won. I would get coffee when I got to Alessandria. I walked to the station, taking one wrong turn which took me slightly off course. When I got to the station, Diana was just driving up and dropping her friend Birgit off. We rode to Alessandria together.

It was great having Birgit with me as she is a "power shopper" and has already visited Alessandria once before. Alessandria is a big city and I really had no idea where to go/what to see. She gave me the quick tour of the shopping district and showed me the other interesting areas on my map. The sales have just begun here and she was planning for a day of shopping. I was up for a little shopping but also wanted to get to know the city a little bit. When we arrived, we walked through the huge outdoor market. She pointed out a few stands along the way. I told her that I find it difficult buying clothes there since I am not sure if they would fit. She told me that was what the van was for.

After walking through the market, we turned left and walked through the smaller food market nearby and then hit the stores. I only lasted in a few stores with Birgit before coffee won out. She continued shopping and I went in search of my morning caffè machiato. After my caffè and brioche, I stopped at a huge fruit and vegetable store and bought a nectarine and some yellow plums. I stopped in a few shops until everything closed up for the afternoon. I ran into Birgit at Zara but then lost her when I was about to leave the store.

The one other place I wanted to go while in Alessandria was the biblioteca (library). I saw this wonderful picture of a room in this library with old books that I wanted to see. I found the library but was not allowed to take any photos inside. Besides the one room with the old books, the rest of the library was very modern. There was a video area with 4 TVs and headphones. CNN was on one TV, an Italian news station was on another TV, and there was a sign talking about watching DVDs on the equipment there. There also was an area with newspapers from around the world. The children's area was closed while I was there.

I spent some time reading a couple of the newspapers and then headed back towards the market area. Most everything else was closed and the next train did not leave for 2 more hours. I stopped in a supermarket and bought a yogurt drink and then found a gelateria, which turned out to not be that great. By this time, the stores started to open up again. I wandered in a few more until it was time to catch my train. I figured out that this would be my 9th train ride and not once yet has someone checked my ticket.

When I got back to Acqui Terme, I went to the Jolly Blu and spent some time on the internet and then met Jan at Gregario's new wine bar. She was there with Elizabeth and her husband. It was getting close to dinner time and I was craving good pizza. Elizabeth recommended a place near her apartment.

I ordered a bufala pizza (bufala mozzarella, pomodoro sauce, basil) and asked to also have pepperoni on my pizza (grilled peppers NOT the meat). My pizza was sooooo delicious! The crust was slightly burnt and so good. The sauce was perfect. The cheese was wonderful and the peppers were like the icing on the cake.

July 6, 2008

daytrip to Nizza and my first real tower

Friday, July 4th

Friday was my day to visit Nizza Monferrato. I chose Nizza mainly because it was close by and was easily reached by train. Jan decided to join me since she was done with school. I realized once I was on the train that I validated my return ticket and not my ticket from Acqui to Nizza. Jan also stamped the wrong ticket as she was copying what I did. It was a short 20 minute ride on a nice new regional train. Piemonte has many nice new regional trains.

When we arrived in Nizza, we went to the ticket window and explained what had happened. I showed the very nice man both of my tickets and told him it was much too early in the morning for me and I was not paying attention when I validated the wrong ticket. He asked what time we were returning and then said he would accompany us on the train to explain the situation, something I think would only happen in a small town.

Friday was market day in Nizza. We stopped at a pasticceria where I bought a wonderful brioche filled with crema (creme). We walked a little further and found a bar for coffee. The woman in the bar told us where we could find tourist information and also told us about some of the interesting things to see in Nizza. Thank goodness Jan has a good sense of directions. We easily found an informagiovani (which is similar to a tourist info spot). I asked the woman if the tower was open for climbing. She made a call and set up a private tour for us. I was thrilled!

She walked us over to the building where we waited for Matteo. He was so kind and spent time telling us much of the history, including information about some of the battles, of the town of Nizza. The tower was not a very difficult tower to climb. There were only a few sets of stairs and one winding staircase. The top had some sort of sun roof bubble that opened and closed. The views were lovely at the top. After taking some photos, we headed back down and thanked Matteo.

We took more photos of the building, which I believe was the palazzo comunale (town hall) and then continued to walk around the town. Jan's compact flash photo card was full. She asked a woman in a store we were browsing in if there was a photo place in town. It was right next to Benetton and easy to find. They did not sell compact flash cards but were able to copy all of her photos onto a CD. While we waited for it to be finished, Jan visited part of the market area and I went shopping. I bought a purple tank top which was on sale for 10€ (which would be $16.00). I like to think of it as $10.00.

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September 10, 2008

where to start ~ Acqui Terme

I have not posted any photos from my time in Acqui Terme yet because I still have not been able to organize them. I think part of the problem is that I was continuously lost in while staying in Acqui Terme. Don't get me wrong, I LOVED Acqui Terme, I just never found my bearings while there. I even took photos of ways to get from my hotel to the train station and still ended up getting lost!

So for today...here are a few random photos of Acqui Terme.

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September 17, 2008

beautiful yellow building

These are the three photos I took of the building in Alessandria where the car was parked (previous post). Because the street was a very narrow one way street, it was impossible to get the entire building in one frame. I wish I took a photo of the doorway.

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September 18, 2008

hat shop in Alessandria

While wandering the streets of Alessandria, I came upon this lovely little hat shop called Borsalino. Too bad the shop was closed when I was there. I would have loved to have spent some time inside trying on a few hats.

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Little did I know when I took this photo that Borsalino was a famous name of a hat company. According to the History of Straw hats & Felt hats - Borsalino hats page of the Hat History website, Giuseppe Borsalino set up the first artisan workshop for the production of felt hats in Alessandria, Italy. Check out the website for more interesting facts about the Borslino hat company.

Close up of the store name:
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Does anyone know the Italian word for "hat store"?

October 30, 2008

gelato in Acqui

One of the things I miss about Italy...

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November 25, 2008

liquor & sweets

I have been working on a few blog posts but have not finished them yet. Meanwhile, I thought I would post these photos of a cute little shop in Nizza Monferrato (Piemonte).

I was not able to get the entire storefront in this photo due to the narrow street and the archway.
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Liquor & sweets. That seemed to be all that is sold in this charming little shop.
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The owner gave me a photo of this sign after she saw me taking a photo of it.
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February 21, 2009

"warm"~ PhotoHunt

PhotoHunters

This was a very difficult theme for me. I searched through all of my Hawaii photos, beach photos from both Italy and Hawaii, and sunset photos. I just couldn’t decide on which one to use. Instead, I decided to go with a photo of the Bollente in the Piazza della Bollente in Acqui Terme in Piemonte, Italy. The water that comes out of the Bollente stays at a constant temperature of 75°C or 167°F.

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The Bollente at night:

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Piazza della Bollente during the day:
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For a moment, I thought about posting the following photo as my main "warm" photo, but then decided I better not. I was afraid all my friends dealing with the cold weather right now might throw a few shoes at me for posting this photo of snow.

Snow day at my school on a warm winter day in Hawaii.
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May 16, 2009

"painted"~ PhotoHunt

PhotoHunters

I decided to go with painted buildings that use the trompe-l'oeil technique, creating optical illusions, which make windows, shutters, bricks, etc. appear to be three-dimensional. The first two photos were taken in Santa Margherita Ligure and the last three were taken in Acqui Terme.

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All but the shutters are painted in this photo.

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Close up of the trompe-l'oeil technique above the door

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Whoops! This one really fooled me. I thought the shutters were real at first.

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January 23, 2010

"balanced"~ PhotoHunt

PhotoHunters

With the 2010 Winter Olympics fast approaching, I thought I would add an Olympic twist to my PhotoHunt post this week.

I took this photo of the balanced skier along with a few more photos below in Piazza Solferino in July 2006 while visiting Torino, Italy, a few months after the February 2006 Winter Olympics.
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A beautiful fountain with sculptures balanced on platforms.
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Another view of the balanced sculptures by the fountain.
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Two more figures representing some of the Winter Olympic sports. Various sports figures surrounded Piazza Solferino.
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There are two atriums in Piazza Solferino. The atrium I visited was called
Atrium 2006.
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Atrium 2006 housed images, films, and other information about the 2006 Winter Olympic games held in Torino. It was fascinating to explore, especially after watching many of the events on TV a few months earlier.
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Piazza Solferino was not the only area showcasing the 2006 Winter Olympics. This symbol of the Torino Olympics was located just outside the train station
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I also discovered the BC Canada House, located in Piazzale Valdo Fusi right behind the Hotel Victoria where I stayed. The BC Canada House was left to the City of Torino as a gift and legacy from the Province of British Columbia to the people of Torino and Italy.
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I can't believe it has been almost 4 years since I visited this wonderful city.

March 11, 2010

surprise

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*Edited to add: I took these photos while in Stresa, Italy last summer.

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