Thursday, August 29, 2013

This is how you do it

James (and Susannah) show Norah how to skip rocks. Form is of utmost importance!

Lago Miage

Lago Miage is fed by a glacier and snowmelt from the mountains. It can be high or low depending on the season. We saw it when it was most definitely LOW--can you see where the water line is during high season? At any rate, the water was this strange crystal blue color. It was very striking. And, it was surrounded by rocks for the kids to throw...what could be better?

On the way to Lago Miage

The next day we drove back to Lago Miage...well, we tried to drive there, but you have to walk the last 2 or 3 miles UPHILL to get to it. Chiara's uncle failed to mention this. But, we had packed a picnic, Susannah was strapped to James' back, we all had our sunblock on, and darnit, we were going to see that gal darn lake! At this point in the journey, Norah had had enough, but we kept her going with the promise of food when we got to the lake.

Susannah's shouting:

"I love mountains!" Me too, Suzy Q, me too.

This made me nervous

James took Luke and Norah really CLOSE to the stream and I had to just stay away and let them enjoy it (but I did think of how I would save them if any of them fell in and played it in my mind over and I crazy?). Susannah and I stayed up above, on the path, where it was SAFE!

Mountain stream

On our first day to Monte Bianco, Lago Miage was a bust, so we took a walk by this mountain stream instead (with Monte Bianco in the background). The kids loved throwing rocks into the raging water!

We feel so little

When we looked at these mountains, we felt so little. They were HUGE! In the bottom of this photo, you can see the entrance to the tunnel that goes THROUGH this huge mountain to the other side: France!

Mont Blanc

Monte Bianco was next on our tour of the Val d'Aosta. Of course, when we got close, clouds were starting to form on the summit! Bummer! Anyway, here it is from afar. We went to this beautiful little town called Courmayeur. In Courmayeur, the Mountain basically looks like a giant granite wall (with lots of snow on it) rising up to the heavens. It was really breathtaking! We found out from Chiara's uncle Marco that we should go to a little place near Courmayeur called Lago Miage. We tried the first day we were there, but as it was a Sunday, there were throngs of people, so we decided to go back the next morning. Boy were we glad we did it (see following pics)! It was beautiful.

Family shot

Chiara and the kids by the arch. Why, oh why, can we not get a good photo where all of us are looking at the camera at the same time? Any ideas/suggestions from our loyal readers?

Roman Arch

This arch was original to the Roman settlement, too. In the middle ages, the ruling family had the crucifix and the iron flags installed on the arch.

Storm's a brewin'

Theater with storm clouds threatening to rain on our historical parade...

Tiny kids, big theater

The kids looked so little next to some of the rocks they used to build this theater. All I could think was, "That looks like it was a lot of work!"

Roman Theater

Here are some ruins of the Roman theater that was here. It was HUGE! This is just part of the back wall of the theater--it was probably 4 times this long during Roman times.

Old gate

An old gate to the Roman city in Aosta

Roman Bridge

The Romans had a settlement way back in who-knows B.C. in Aosta, and today there are some parts of the old Roman city preserved. We were trying to tell Norah who the Romans were, and we think she got it, but she usually doesn't even know what day of the week it is, so I don't know how much "2000 years ago" means to her. Anywho, here's the bridge.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Taking Five

We went back to our rented apartment in Aosta and took a little rest before our next stop: Roman ruins in downtown Aosta. Our apartment had a little yard complete with hammock!


Overall, the castle was impressive. I wish the tour guide had been a little friendlier, and I wish the furniture inside was more authentic so we could get a better feel for what life was like in the 1300's. Still, we had a good time exploring the castle.


Norah was only too happy to be able to pose for a photo with some princesses!

Dancin' in the castle

Norah and Luca were glad when the tour was over (we couldn't take photos during the tour, so I can't show you the inside) and they could explore the outer courtyards a bit more. Of course, Luca found some time to bust a move.

Outside the castle

It was threatening rain the whole time we were near the castle, but it never really did rain until we got home (yay!). Here are Susannah and Chiara outside the castle, waiting for our tour to start.

Castello Fenis

After our time near Monte Cervino, we headed back toward Aosta and stopped to tour this castle, Castello Fenis. It was restored in the 1930's but dates from the 1200's to 1400's. It was pretty neat to tour another castle, and this time we enjoyed it more because it wasn't winter time. Castles are FREEZING in the wintertime but nice and cool in the summertime!

Mommy and Susannah

Poor Susannah is always in her carrier...we had to prove she was here with us!

Gotta go bouldering!

Lots of boulders for Luca and Norah to climb on near Lago Blu.

Maybe this is why...'s called Lago Blu! It had a very striking color!

Just the boys

Luca just can't be stopped from dancing whenever the camera is pulled out!

Just the girls

Just the girls by Lago Blu. See the nice areas for picnics there in the background? It was a great find!

Lago Blu

We tried to get closer to the Matterhorn, but the clouds kept getting worse and worse. We saw this cute little lake on the side of the road and decided to let the kids run around a little. In the future, we will bring a picnic here and stay longer; it was really beautiful. You can see that on a clear day, one would be able to get a mirror shot of Monte Cervino. Not this time, but maybe next time!


We took a 3-day weekend trip up to the Val d'Aosta, which is in northwestern Italy, very near the border. There are 2 famous mountains near here: The Matterhorn (Monte Cervino) and Mont Blanc, and we intended to see both! Here's the Matterhon before it became shrouded in clouds...this is the best shot I have of it. You will notice later, it's always hiding behind a cloud bank.

The view from the back seat

I shot this photo while trying to keep up with pedaling this heavy piece of machinery!

Parco di Monza

On another nice sunny day, we went to the Parco di Monza and rented one of these 4-person bikes. They squeezed all three kids into the front seat (Susannah was buckled in) and we proceeded to pedal their heavy bottoms all over the park. That has to be one of the heaviest bikes ever made! The kids liked it for a while, but then Susannah started to cry and that just sucked all the fun right out of it!

Lago di Segrino

We went for a day trip to Lago di Segrino, which is a small lake just north of Desio. We bought a day pass to a club where we could use their beach, restrooms, umbrellas, and boats. James took Norah and Luca out on the lake for a ride in a canoe. They had a blast! While we were there, we met some people who happen to live in Desio, and who are friends with Chiara's Aunt Rina! What a small world!

By Norah

A closeup of her new "cat and mouse" game, Viva Topo, which is actually quite fun! I love to see what she takes pictures of when I give her the camera. It's usually lots of pictures of her feet with a few other gems thrown in there.

Precarious view

Here's Susannah taking in the breathtaking view from the restaurant. Don't worry; I double checked whether she would fit through the bars!

A day in Tirano

We drove up to Tirano, Italy one Sunday in early August. Tirano is in a valley called Valtellina. It's gorgeous! We had a great time there, aside from locking our keys in the car, and having to wait while a mechanic came and broke our side window and fished them out with a wire hook! What a fiasco! James and I will have to "agree to disagree" about where the fault lies in this incident...
Anyway, after we had our keys back, we drove up over the city of Tirano and had lunch at a lovely restaurant overlooking the valley. Here's Norah waiting for her lunch.

Visitors again

In early July, James' friend (from high school years) Matt and his wife and son came to visit us in Desio. We had dinner one night and the next day, we went to Lago di Como together. The kids played together with their new friend Ezra, and it was fun for Chiara to finally meet Matt and his wife Bevin. We know the kids had a great time, because they all started to cry when we had to say goodbye. They all wanted to spend more time together! Here are Matt and James along with the kids.