=4>It is Tuesday, August 21; we have been in safe harbor at Vicoforte for five days, and we are happy to have nowhere to go. Mornings are cool but the days heat up quickly; still the temperatures are not so intense as they were further south in the desert flatlands around Brindisi. Everything here is a bit softer, it seems—the air carries more moisture, the green hills roll rank upon rank into a blue haze that cloaks the Alps, the light is more diffuse. Jim observed the other day that here in Piemonte we hear the thrumming of crickets, not the rasp of cicadas.
The last day on the road was perhaps the longest of the whole trip, but around 4:00 we began exchanging phone calls with Adriano, the English-speaking brother of Nadia, who lives upstairs in the house of Francesca, the niece of our friend Paolo (in Tbilisi), who grew up in nearby Mondovi and who arranged our stay here. Adriano and Nadia waited for us at a roundabout along the way, and we followed them back to Vicoforte and this very beautiful house, our temporary quarters for resting, eating, sleeping, doing laundry, napping, cooking, teaching ourselves to play backgammon, and making small forays into the surrounding villages and towns.
Thursday night it was all we could manage to find our way back into the center of Vicoforte for dinner at a simple trattoria. Friday we found a wi-fi zone in the arcaded village square; a well-stocked alimentari with fresh produce, dairy and meat, and groceries like bottled water, laundry soap, etc.; and a pharmacy. On Saturday we ventured the 11 km into Mondovi, a town of 23,000, where we outfitted ourselves with a wi-fi key and toured a one-bedroom apartment that will work nicely as a base for six to twelve months, while we look around and learn as much as possible about local real estate, the region, and the communities in the area. We had lunch in a café off Piazza Maggiore, the main square of the older, upper town and chatted with a Dutch couple on a similar journey to ours, driving from the Netherlands to northern Italy and back home again.
Monday we found a car wash and got Dora looking her best, and we joined the IperCoop (like Costco), stocking up on groceries and a fan and marveling at the vast array of goods for sale, including motor scooters, household appliances, outdoor furniture, and clothing and shoes for the whole family. We are definitely in the western world once again!