This is the view from our hotel window. We stayed at a very small hotel--more of a bed and breakfast--which had a Snow White theme. Each of the rooms was labeled one of the Seven Dwarves (complete with matching key chain and statuette in front of the door). We were Sleepy and you can see how cozy the room was in the second picture. And after the first day of running around, 'Sleepy' was more than appropriate. Note also the hand-carved woodwork on the wardrobe--it definitely had an Alpine, dwarvish feel!
We took a free shuttle to Campo Smith, a ski/snow-sport center where we would be renting our snowshoes. Along the way, we ran into an old friend with a surprising new look. I bet you Santa Barbarians out there have never seen her quite like this!
So here we are trying out our snowshoes (behind me is Campo Smith). John has read that snowshoeing is one of the fastest growing winter sports and we can understand why. They're very simple to operate, good excerise, and can get you off the beaten track. The last picture in this group is just one of the impressive views we saw while we were on the way to our hike.
Here is a video of John demonstrating snowshoeing, followed by snapshots of us far away from civilization (not too far, for the moms in the audience), visiting a cross-country ski trail and some old ruins.
After a long day, we had dinner at our favorite place in Bardonecchia: 'La Ciau'. We don't know what it means in Italian (maybe it's Piedmontese), but we think it's pronounced just like 'Ciao.' There are usually only a few people there, the food is brilliant, and the service is very friendly. I had a pizza with sausage, onions, and red peppers, and John (brave soul) had ravioli with a cream and walnut sauce! Although I didn't believe him, he said he really enjoyed it.
Finally, we took a walk around town and discovered just how hard the Italians cling to their nativities. Even though it's almost February, we came across this spectacular nativity, displayed on a streetcorner. It's set over an old fountain, so there's actually a little river running through the scene.
Stay tuned for Day 2. . .