04 August 2011

Avigliana Lake and Sacra di San Michele

The summer is flying by and we have been in the thick of it with lots of visitors, a wedding and so many activities that I can barely keep up. So I think I will share some photos of one of our recent outings with friends. I always say that you will run out of time before you run out of things to do in our area. I hope I don't run out of summer before I get to my favorites again. There are plenty of summer festivals in every little town and we start the count down in the valley until the 15th of August when everyone celebrates it being summer. According to my husband and other family members, summer is all over after that. So I think I'll share some of the things to do when you are in our part of Piedmont and the alps.
Laghi Avigliana e la Sacra di San Michele
View of Lake Avigliana from Chalet del Lago Restaurant
Off we traipsed to lake Avigliana the other day in search of lunch and a wander around the imposing Sacra San Michele over in our sister valey of Susa that runs more or less parallel to us over the mountains behind our house and is another part of our great Torino province. Sacra San Michele is one of Torino's Provincial symbols along with our own Chisone valley's Fenestrelle Fortress.  This will be part of my series of what to see and do with in an hour to hour and one half away from our door step. This day trip takes a little over an hour to get to from the shortcut that skirts around the base of our mountains landing us by the two natural lakes that lie next to Avigliana and at the foot of Sacra San Michele. It's a pleasant enough drive with a lovely destination for a sunny summers day. We didn't actually go into the town of Avigliana on this day, as we had a long breakfast and slow start to the day, but that just meant that were there just in time to have lunch at the oh so atmospheric Chalet del Lago.
The restaurant is on the way up towards the monastery and has an idyllic location to enjoy the lake view.     W have been here before for a drink and a look round, but never for lunch before. I must say, we had no idea what we were missing. The food was delicious and well presented. They serve pizza at night from their wood fired oven as well and it looks like a great place to dance the night away in their nightclub under the stars by the waters edge.  I can only imagine that it sees a fair amount of business after dinner on these warm summer nights.
Oh yes, back to our lunch. They had a seafood heavy menu, which always gives me a little pause as we are about 3 hours from the seaside and mountain fare tends to be a bit different, but my fears were soon allayed when the dishes started appearing. The fish and seafood was exceptionally fresh and so tasty, as was the quality proscuitto crudo that was classically paired with melon, one of our perennial favorites. Here are a few shots of some of our luncheon plates that were shared around the table.
Melone e proscuitto crudo
Mixed vegetable platter
Giant scallops

Mussels in a rich red sauce
Grilled swordfish with mixed seafood and veggie topping

Grilled seas bass
Potatoes and octopus
Grilled steak with rucola and tomatoes

Pink grapefruit slushy for the finish
Well, I do think we were fortified enough to make it through our afternoon visit to Sacra San Michele. Everything was light and satisfying enough that no nap was necessary. We carried on to the imposing monastery that hangs way up on the hill. You can find other photos of this building from some of my other posts about this site, here and here, as well as having a look at their web site here. It is something that is impressive and not to be missed, but then I might say the same thing about the Chalet del Lago as well. A great day out with friends indeed.

Sacra di San Michele

Carved columns

There are a lot of steps

Lots of great views

Impressive and not to be missed

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