A major expedition was planned for today so we were overjoyed to see sunshine and blue skies. Donatella would not be joining us, but she packed us a sumptuous lunch to enjoy somewhere enroute.

After a light breakfast, we settled into Gianni’s car.  I noticed that our illustrious driver, not especially known for subtlety, was wearing a t-shirt with “California” stamped on the sleeve and a voluptuous biker chick emblazoned across the chest. It would be an interesting day, as with Gianni, it always is.

In high spirits, we headed off towards a tangle of highways and mountain roads enroute to Domodossola in the Piemonte region of Italy.

National Road of the Semplon (Pass):
to Arona - 59 kms, to the Swiss border, 20 kms

Domodossola sits at the foot of the Italian alps.  An ancient town, even in existence when the Romans conquered the region, it has a more recent history, as well.

Claiming itself an independent republic during World War II, it broke away from Fascist Italy.  Although the local rebellion was ultimately squashed by the Germans, the area grew into a haven for the Resistance.

Somewhere near Mergozzo, a tiny lake as well as a town, we had passed a museum dedicated to the Resistance that had been centered in this region. This museum, called Casa della Resistenza, lies close to a memorial site where on June 20th, 1944, the Nazis massacred forty partisans.  We didn’t stop here this day, but sometime I will.

Arriving is Domodossola, I was surprised at how large the town is — not that it is a huge city, by any means, but bustling with shoppers and tourists.

The Grossi Bookstore in Piazza Mercato -- one of my Italian teachers is a Grossi

Gian Giacomo Galletti

In Piazza Repubblica dell’Ossola stands a monument to Gian Giacomo Galletti (1789-1873), a generous and revered benefactor of the town.

We walked into the old city center, admiring the architecture as we went. Tiny iron balconies flaunting playful curls and swirls softened the stern Romanesque faces of the tall imposing buildings crowding the main square, Piazza Mercato.

Check out the decorative swirls under the eaves

A close-up of the detail

Passing a poster in the window of a travel agency advertising a bus trip to a concert, I did a double-take.  It was Eros Ramazotti — 90 Euro for the bus trip and ticket.  Eros is one of my favorite Italian pop singers.

Dad and Gianni discuss...well, who knows?

Before pressing further north, we stopped at a streetside cafe for espresso.


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