17 April 2009

Pasquetta outing... Sacra San Michele and Rombo

Pasqua or Easter, as it is known for us native English speakers, and the day after, quaintly called Pasquetta has come and gone, but the fond memories linger on. Fabrizio's parents were the hosts the traditional family marathon of a lunch and they made sure no one went away hungry, hardly.
We had made it through course after course, finishing up with the walk around the neighborhood, aiding the digestion as a bonus . Fortunately for our digestive systems, the rain of the morning had finally given way, leaving a lovely afternoon for a stroll.
The day after Easter we followed the Italian tradition of going on an outing. Normally, its a day for picnics or a bar b ques with friends after having spent the day with the family on Sunday. We had family in town from the states, so we did our usual rounds of the sights to see in the neighborhood, along with a good portion of the rest of Piemonte.

It was a gorgeous sunny day. Heavy sigh, it's been a bit drippy ever since. Anyway, we made our way over to Avigliana with it's place of honor, as the gateway to the Susa valley, strategically skirting around the edge of two large natural lakes, one so deep with undercurrents that make it off limits for water sports, but the other a fine water sporting dream with the imposing Sacra San Michele hovering above on it's impressive perch on the mountain side. Photo opportunities abound. So we made our way just over and around the hill from here to make the pilgrimage to this medieval monastery that I have mentioned here and here before.
We stopped in town for a bite to eat finding naturally that everyone that wasn't picnicking or bar-b-cuing, were out for lunch. Finding all the lake side restaurants full to capacity we made our way through town and found a delightful trattoria, aptly called "Aldente".
Interestingly, it is a small chain of restaurants originally conceived by Italians in Prague and then has come to several other locations here in Torino and several other nearby outlying towns, all individually and independently run by local families. They have created a delightful dining experience and one that I look forward to experiencing again. It was busy holiday and we turned up in the thick of the lunch rush to a welcoming and charming old converted house in the center of town. It had lots of small details in the decor, ancient family photos, hanging clusters of grapes and wine bottles, tastefully done reminiscent of the Italian restaurants of my youth, which weren't quite so tastefully done in Southern Illinois. The brown recycled paper cone with it's treasure trove of various grissini waiting on the table, a tasty way to stave off the hunger pangs while waiting. I loved the cloth napkins tied up with a wisp of raffia twine and finished off with farfalle/ bow tie pasta. It set the right tone for the fabulous meal to come. The 18th century refurbished house struck a fine balance between casual familiarity and attention to details that offered a delightful repast. We all ordered the Rombo fish platter, as it made sense to keep it simple on a busy holiday and we were not disappointed. The skin searing, hot platters were delightfully decorated ceramic ovals that this Mediterranean turbot was served on added to the overall quaint charm of Aldente. The fish was moist, flavorful and well presented. The oven roasted rosemary potatoes, cherry tomatoes and carrot and fennel melange were cooked to perfection. A delightful discovery and a trattoria we will be recommending to our guests when they find themselves on an outing to Avigliana.
We made our way up to the monastery after our lunch along with the masses. It was truly amazing to see that many people turn up to take the tour. The photo below was taken a little ways from where we parked. You get the idea of how many cars there were. We had a bit of a walk to arrive for the 4 euro guided tour. Normally they don't always have guides but they tried to anticipate the crowds and deliver a better experience for everyone. Our guide asked where everyone was from and the replies, overall, were from various towns dotted around Piemonte. We later found out that they had sold 1,600 tickets that day. That a lot of us gawkers, making the guided tours a wise call, to monitor the flow of people. It also seemed to give credence to the idea that people are still going out during this crisis, to do things, but choosing inexpensive options, closer to home whilst enjoying a gorgeous day out. Not a bad choice indeed.


Sonia @ My Sweet Monkey said...

Looks like you had an easier time getting to Sacra di San Michele than I did!

Bella Baita Marla said...

Ah, but you haven't read the other posts, where I believe I mentioned that it took me 4 tries before I made it there for the first time! Since you live in Torino, we'll have to meet up sometime.

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