In the morning Gap, France was just as ugly as the night before with the same people sleeping on the streets. Overnight there was a loud music concert in the park just to the south of the hotel and was quite loud as were the people returning to their cars just outside our open windows. Air conditioning was not available.
The route today would take us via a scenic road (COLLE DELLA MADDALENA). This well made road connects two alpine valleys; the Stura valley in Italy and the Ubaye valley in France. the Pass is at 2000 meters. We stopped at the border crossing and took a short hike and found a marble monument depicting the border between France and Italy. A short bit down the road from the border is a very friendly cafe popular with bikers with a small lake on the opposite side of the road. A short stop here for coffee and a walk around the lake is the perfect antidote for France.
Continuing on this scenic highway as it twists and turns down steep declines past majestic mountains topped with glacial ice we stopped for a quick photo at the entrance to the village of Vinadio where two statues have been erected to the memories of Battista and Paolo Antonio Ugo, two giants born in the town and toured with Barnum & Bailey before passing in 1919.
Next was a stop in the small city of Mondovì and a visit to the Gardens of Belvedere and its giant clock tower with large numbers and a single hand. Exact time is unimportant here – as is any accurate time at all as the clock was broken.
Onward was the city of Fossano including the Cathedral of Santa Maria and San Giovenale, considered by some of the most beautiful in the Piedmont.
At this point it was getting late and our check in at our hotel/brew pub had a short window so we skipped a few villages and headed directly over to Casa Baladin, an overly trendy boutique hotel with only 3 rooms owned by the Baladin beer company. Things were decidedly quiet when we arrived to check in. The small town square was empty and there did not seem to be a way to enter the hotel. Only after finding a door buzzer down a alleyway were we greeted by a girl waiting to check us in. There she surprised us with the information that both the restaurant and brew pub were closed for the summer and that we were the only guests in the hotel. When she left, we were the only ones in the hotel at all! We were told that “Baladin Open Garden” was open 4km down the road but it was too dangerous to walk – driving would be required. This would limit our beer intake – and as it turned out this was for the best as prices for everything within the walls of this “garden” were very high and required the purchase of plastic tokens to buy food or drinks.