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Report 1114: Bergamo, Venice, Lerici, Piemonte, Friends & World Cup Mania

By girasoli from Hawaii, Summer 2006

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Page 14 of 23: Cuneo

photo by girasoli

Cuneo porticoes

While staying in Saluzzo, I hoped to take daytrips to Cuneo and Mondový. During my planning stage in the spring, I wrote down all the train/bus times from Saluzzo to Savigliano where I could then catch a connecting train to either Cuneo or Mondový. According to Trenitalia, there were buses for the short ride from Saluzzo to Savigliano available during the morning hours when the train did not run.

I found out Saturday morning that in reality, there ARE NO BUSES during these times. There are a few trains scheduled to go from Saluzzo to Savigliano early in the morning and then not again until 1:30pm. There are buses that will go to Savigliano but AGAIN only early in the morning and then again in the afternoon. This makes no sense to me and still today Trenitalia advertises buses that go from Saluzzo to Savigliano mid morning on their site. Here again ... the reason having a car is nice in Piemonte. I know. I was warned.

I always take the train whenever possible as I am not a big fan of the blue buses, the pullman buses. I easily get bus sick, the buses are usually crowded, there is not much room between seats, and sometimes they can be pretty smelly as all the windows are shut and not everyone showers before getting on the bus. Also, I like to have access to a bathroom, which trains usually provide.

After breakfast, I decided to take the blue bus to Cuneo. I would keep Sunday as my day to explore Saluzzo since the bus/train schedules are more limited that day, and go to Mondový on Monday. I started to head out to walk to the bus station to check out the time schedule when Tony, one of the owners, offered to drive me. I told him that it was only about a five-minute walk, but he insisted on driving me. How kind of him!

I arrived at the bus station and searched for the timetables, a place to buy a ticket, where the bus left from, etc. This has always been one of my other frustrations about taking the bus. For some reason, I have the hardest time figuring out the schedules. After a little searching, I found the bus schedule. The bus to Cuneo was leaving pretty soon. There was no ticket window at this station but there was an automatic ticket machine. I could not figure out how to use it but I was in luck as a very kind woman came to my rescue. She also did not know how to use the ticket machine but did tell me that I could buy a ticket at the bar, which worked just as well!

I bought a ticket and a bottle of water and waited for the bus. Luckily I noticed a bus driving over to the side of the building while sitting and waiting for the bus. I went to look at the sign on the front of the bus and saw the word "Cuneo." I would have continued to sit and wait and then missed the Cuneo bus if I had not seen that bus drive over to the side of the station.

I boarded the bus to get a seat near the front. As everyone got on, they attempted to stamp their ticket in the little yellow machine in the front of the bus. This machine validates the tickets (stamps the time). The machine was not working. It was interesting to watch the different reactions of the people trying to stamp their tickets. A woman finally came to look at the machine. It took her about 10 minutes to fix it. Then one by one, everyone walked back to the front of the bus to stamp their ticket. Then the woman walked through the bus to check everyone's ticket and finally, the bus driver started the bus and we were off!

The ride took about an hour. We stopped many times. The bus was quite crowded and sort of smelly at times. I was not sure where to get off the bus. I had a map of Cuneo with me that I got when visiting Katia at her second work place, Informagiovani. I looked at the map and saw that the train station did not seem that far of a walk from the center of town. So, I decided to get off at the train station, which was well marked, so I could check the train options for the ride back. I knew there were trains in the afternoon going from Savigliano to Saluzzo and wanted to take the train instead of the bus back to Saluzzo. After writing down the times, I headed into town.

Cuneo is an easy town to navigate. I stopped at the first bar to get an espresso and then continued towards the center. I next stopped in a bread shop on the main street to grab some food for lunch. The customers in the shop were pretty aggressive when waiting to order. I had to watch carefully for my turn to get called on. When it was my turn, I started to order and at the same time a woman near me also started to order. When I looked her way, she admitted through body language that I was next and waited while I ordered. I bought some very delicious little slices of bread covered in cheese, tomatoes, and rucola. I then headed on to the main piazza where I sat and enjoyed my food.

When researching Cuneo, I saw a beautiful picture of the main piazza. I was so excited to finally get to see this piazza and wanted to take lots of pictures. Unfortunately when I arrived, I found a big volleyball match going on. The piazza was full of cars and tables set up all around the volleyball area, which took up the entire piazza area. The "beach volleyball" matches were comprised of four high school girls on each side playing some type of championship match.

I continued my walk to the end of the town. I loved the beautiful clock tower. I walked all around the building to find the entrance to climb the tower but never found it. I think it may have either been closed for lunch or for the day. I continued to wander the city a little more. Most everything closed up about an hour after I arrived. I spent a little time in a bookstore that was still open and then walked around the city some more. Cuneo was a very pretty city with interesting architecture. It seemed to me to have a "French touch."

I was still very tired from the long day of traveling the day before. I was also a little sore from carrying my backpack for so long. I decided to cut my visit short and return to Saluzzo on an earlier train instead of waiting for everything to open back up and spend more time in Cuneo.

The train ride was much more enjoyable than the bus ride. After arriving in Savigliano, I waited for a short while for my second train which took me from Savigliano back to Saluzzo. Back in Saluzzo, I wandered though a few shops on my way back to the hotel and then took a long hot shower. I watched the second half of the England/France game, which was only on the German station on my TV. Even though I did not understand a word they were saying it was a very exciting game.

After the game, I had a wonderful dinner at my hotel. The hotel does not usually serve dinner but for some reason they were serving dinner that evening, which worked out perfectly for me as I was too tired to walk to/from town once again for dinner that evening. The food was served outside. Good food, good day, nice quiet night.

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