domenica 22 febbraio 2009

La Settimana Bianca: Après-Ski

On our first day in Pila, we only bought half-day ski passes. Our lessons finished at 12.30 and we figured that we could easily fit in an extra bit of practice before the passes ran out at 2 o'clock if we wanted to. By Tuesday, however, we had realised that we were unlikely to want to do anything other than collapse in the sun with lunch after a 3 hour skiing lesson and that the view from the chalet terraces alone was worth paying an extra ten euros to stay an extra couple of hours and look at. As I said before, the centre of Aosta was pretty, but not quite pretty enough to compete with a stunning panorama of Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa and the Cervino mountains.

As well as me and Mr A, several of our friends from Milan were up, so most days we met for lunch and caught up with each other's adventures (being hit by a kamkaze skier in freefall (me), falling on the ice in the street before I even got to the cable car (me) and being dragged along a conveyor belt while appearing to embrace a chairlift (oops, me again!)). After lunch, I usually skied down a couple of the easier slopes by myself before meeting up with Mr A for some more sitting around in the sunshine then getting the cable car back down to Aosta.

One of the consequences of all this snow and sunshine was that I ended up with very obvious panda eyes from my sunglasses. Nobody else got them, which I found most unfair.

After a shower and a nap at the hotel, we went into Aosta for dinner. On Monday, we had pizza in La Grotta Azzura, which was nice and not at all expensive, although my 4 seasons pizza did appear to be missing a season, as it only had 3 toppings. On Tuesday we went to a place that I think was called something like Ristorante Moderno. It was in a state of chaos when we arrived and appeared to have been feeding school parties all evening, but they were gone by the time we got there and the restaurant did an incredible 3-course set menu for 13.50. I was unfortunately too full to eat it, but my friend had a delicious-looking bubbling lasagne, two enormous pork medallions with vegetables, a plate of chips and a sorbet. Inspired by him, I ordered something similar the next night in Le Carillon, but it was more expensive, the lasagne was less bubbly and there was no sorbet. There were, however, sculptures of naked women all over the walls, so that might be to somebody's taste.

Mr A and I were alone on Thursday night and we had the meal that we had been waiting for all week: cheese fondue. We went to Ulisse, a restaurant recommended by our hotel. In a town filled with tourists, this restaurant appeared to be frequented only by older Italians. The waiter explained exactly what was in the fondue, told us how to eat it and gently suggested white wine when we tried to order red. The fondue arrived in a plain old saucepan over a simple burner, served only with a basket of bread, and for the next half hour or so, we were in melty, gloopy, cheesy heaven. We left the restaurant reminding ourselves that Aosta was only a 2 hour drive from Milan and we could come back whenever we wanted, but we might just buy a fondue set instead.

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