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Vicki’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 19 Jul 2012

Location: Grand Paradiso, Italy

MapGran Paradiso - it's well named! What an amazing place - it's got mountains, waterfalls, glaciers, flowers, butterflies, ibex, chamois, fantastic views - what more could a girl want...? I got here on Monday and found a room in the village of Valnontey, which is 3Km from Cogne, and about 30Km from Aosta. After 2 nights camping and 4 in the very basic chalet I felt the need for some luxury, and this room fits the bill, and it's only 40 Euros per night. The only drawback is that there's no wifi - not even in the village. I've finally found a connection in Cogne, but it was difficult to track down. (There's a longer story but no time to tell at the moment)
So I've spent 3 great days hiking in Gran Paradiso National Park. My favourite walk so far was on Tuesday, when I hiked from Valnontey to Col Lauson, which is 3300m - altitude at last! The whole walk was a pleasure - the scenery was amazing and there was a bit of scrambling and exposure near the top. On the way up (and down) I passed through a huge flock of sheep grazing on the wild flower meadows. The sound of their bells was very melodious and there was a lovely smell of wild thyme as they trampled on it while they ate it. I also saw lots of ibex and marmots. On Wednesday I hiked up the other side of the valley and got near to 2 glaciers, with more amazing views, from 2750m, and today I walked from the village of Lillaz to a lake at 2390 m, then returned via the very spectacular Lillaz waterfalls. On all 3 days there have been so many wild flowers and butterflies - so many different species - it's really gorgeous. As you can imagine, I've taken loads of photos - it was really difficult to select which ones to choose to put on this page. So I'm back to using the word awesome - the best description I can think of for this area.
Tomorrow I'm starting to head south and am aiming to get to Camogli which is on the Liguria coast, east of Genoa. It'll be a long drive, but I want to make some progress because I want to spend a few days on the Amalfi coast, including Pompeii, before heading over to Martina Franca, which is between Bari and Brindisi on the " heel" of Italy. I'm planning to get there by next Thursday, in time for my friends' wedding on Saturday.
Hopefully I'll get access to wifi again in the next few days, so I can let you know how I'm getting on.