Days 55 – 58 – Of tourists and time travel

Friday 7th – Monday 10th September

Ok, time for some serious catching up. Internet access issues solved for the time being so best catch up the last 4 days in one go.

Friday 7th, arrived in Aosta and travelled through time…

Remains of the Roman theatre in Aosta – Circa 25 BC

We are having a few rest days from the high mountains and we like nothing more than visiting historic sights. The Roman era being the big draw in Aosta, over 2 highly educational days, we visit all 4 of the Roman sites that require payment of the princely sum of €7 each, (eat your heart out Switzerland) and numerous free sites.

The Italians also proved that they used to be REALLY good at bridges.

This bridge is more than 2,000 years old and still in use!

We also went round the church museum and, gluttons for history that we are, the city museum.

Detail of the 15th century fresco above the Cathedral in Aosta

On our cycle back to the campsite we had a variation on the ‘Where would you have houses if you won the lottery?’ conversation. Ours was; ‘What periods of history would you have homes in if you had a time machine?’ I went for; Romans; knights in shining armour; Henry the VIII and ancient Britain. Mrs P, Because she is educated went for Rome at the time of Julius Caesar (circa 100BC), Any large castle in Europe circa 1099 AD; England circa 1509; and England again circa 3,000 BC near Stonehenge or Avebury.

Apparently we chose the same. Who’d have thought eh?

We also had trouble with tourists. Not “TROUBLE.” Just “trouble.” Well, maybe not even trouble, just “issues.” Perhaps I should explain…


Your average tourist trap town street is between 6 and 10 metres wide with interesting shops, restaurants and boutiques on each side. Your average tourist travels in groups of between 1 and 7,000. They pay little or no attention to the shops, boutiques or restaurants (at least not until dinner or tea time) and they travel at an average speed of 0.00001 mile an hour. If there are 7,000 of them then they are happy to travel in a straight line. You are never getting past. If, on the other hand there are insufficient to completely block your progress they will weave across the street in such a way as to block any attempts to pass so that no matter how few of them there are and how nimble and agile you may think you are, you are still, never getting past.


Sunday 9th we went for a longish walk. 5 hours and 1,000 metres of ascent/descent. Normal temperatures are returning and at 2,600m there was ice on the rocks in the shade.

Mrs P atop the Tête Noire, 2,802m. Above Aosta

On Monday 10th it’s time to get out the Tardis for some serious time travel. Our Tardises(?) are bike shaped and require a certain amount of human effort to power up the rift energy but, after around 20 km of pedalling we manage to travel back to the 13th century for a visit to Fenis Castle.

Can I smell boiling oil?

The only way to see the inside of the castle is to pay for a tour which, is only in Italian. Despite this it is well worth the €7 each.

Interior of Fenis Castle
Original wall paintings have survived despite the building once being used as a farm

Our final bit of time travel sees us peddling a further 20km back to Aosta and the simply (not) named Area Megalitica di Saint-Martin- de-Corleans. It is closed. At least it looks closed but, we are beckoned in by the desk staff. Not closed, just quiet, always very quiet. The museum is outside the town and with the tourists average speed of 0.00001 mile an hour they never get this far. The place is huge, impressive and empty save 2 lonely time travellers who are whisked back to 4,000 BC by a very impressive display of a preserved archaeological dig.

The archaeological find has been preserved in a HUGE underground museum

Looking at the displays I decide that I could be an archaeologist. Find a few holes and from that basically make the rest up. “Ah yes,” says professor P, “this hole clearly indicates the presence of a 4,000 years old gazebo.” That’s my doctorate right there.

After a tough day pedalling our time machines we decide to treat ourselves to dinner in town. It’s Italy. It must be pizza and wine. We find a restaurant with possibly the grumpiest waiter in Aosta but we forgive him because he delivers us the best pizza ever.

Back with Gandalf at the campsite just after dark. A very full day of time travel and cycling. 55km/33m and 6,000 years.

2 thoughts on “Days 55 – 58 – Of tourists and time travel

  1. Looks like you are enjoying Aosta, thought you would. I recommend the via feratta at Valtourenche and the excellent pizza restaurant in the main street just down from the feratta car park. Great pizza and good value.


    1. Hey Stuart. We have moved on so unfortunately won’t be able to check out your recommendations. A real shame. We are now in France. Heading to Annecy. Climbing. Also Mrs P has to catch a plane home for a few days. It will be weird being on my own. Would be great to meet up again so do let us know your movements. Gandalfontour has an email as you know.


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