Thursday, April 25, 2013

Courmayeur, Chamonix, and Mont Blanc: Hand Painted by God!

Thursday greetings from the mountain village of Courmayeur, Italy, which is in the extreme northwestern part of Italy. I am taking a few days away from the cities and the fonts and baptisteries to explore an area to which I have dreamed of traveling for many years. I have been amazed at how close in distance these very diverse and beautiful places are in northern Italy. Yesterday morning I was in Isola d'Asti, near the city of Asti in the Piemonte region of Italy. It is there that the Barbera wines are produced. I asked the waiter at the restaurant for the specialties of the region and was told that they had a very special regional ravioli in that area. I had to ask him to repeat the specialty. And I did not hear correctly the first time when I thought I heard him say "duck ravioli." No, he was actually saying that the regional specialty was "donkey ravioli." Always the daring type, I tried it. It actually tasted quite good, but eventually I just had to stop eating it because I just couldn't get the image of a smiling donkey out of my mind!

Travels brought me from Isola d'Asti, through Torino, which is an immense metropolitan area, here to the Valle d'Aosta. which is the region where Pope Benedict XVI spent his summer vacations. And I can see why. The scenery is extraordinary here. Some photos of the area. A view from the village of Courmayeur.

Today, I was privileged to drive through a tunnel built through Mont Blanc. It is about seven miles long. The engineering feats throughout this region are phenomenal. The tunnel connects Courmayeur, Italy, with Chamonix, France. Some of the finest skiing in the world is found here. Mont Blanc, of course, is the reason why. It is the highest mountain in the Alps and the highest in the European Union. It ranks as the 11th highest mountain in the world. Usually, there is a way to travel via gondolas from Courmayeur to Chamonix, but that route has been closed and will not re-open until 2015. So today's route was to drive through the tunnel and take the Aiguille du Midi cable car to the closest spot near the summit of Mont Blanc. 

Folks, the day today was absolutely crystal clear; not a cloud to be seen. And once at the summit, I had to stay for at least an hour and a half. Although the air was very thin at over 12,000 feet, I couldn't help myself; the views were amazing.

That little triangular peak just to the right of the largest peak in the above photo is the "other side" of the Matterhorn in Switzerland.

Here's a short video. It's really not possible to capture the grandeur. My carpool colleagues will testify to the fact that there was no way that I could not think that on this day, "Jerry, this landscape was hand painted by God for you today!"

Tomorrow, it is back to the "work" of this vacation. Traveling to an area near Genoa, where I hope to find a baptistery in Albenga, along the Ligurian coast. After that, it's Siena (home base for exploring baptisteries and fonts in Pisa, Lucca, and Pistoia), then Ravenna, then Udine.

I hope you know how very blessed I am feeling right now. Growing up, I never dreamed that I would ever see the things I have seen in the past six days. My heart is overflowing with gratitude to God, whose grace is more than I could ever deserve.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Greetings from Ottawa, Canada. I am so happy that you are blessed with such beautiful scenery! Continue to enjoy.