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Day 4 Rovinaglia—Borgo Val Di Taro—Monte Chiodo

This morning we went down to Borgo Val DI Taro to check out the market. It's a street-long affair, the stalls pitched beneath an avenue of trees, crammed with people. Most of the stalls were selling clothes, from underwear outwards, with the remainder selling shoes, handbags, fruit and vegetables and, as you might expect in these parts, piles of cheeses, hams and clusters of those splendid fat-marbled sausages that appear to be squeezed into various just-about-recognisable animal organs. All stuff that because of my veganism are now purely of aesthetic interest!

The market is surprisingly quiet, no shouting of wares or extrovert negotiating of prices. We pick up our supplies and head back to Rovinaglia and siesta.

borgo val di taro market

Late in the afternoon we drive westwards from Borgo Val DI Taro, at first along the valley bottom, were the road is lined by those characteristically unattractive Mediterranean-style factories and gravel quarries, dominated by crumbling grey concrete. We stop at Compiano, a small hillside town dominated by a castle (we are not there at the right time to be let in — Italian castles seem to be open only at specific hours, 4pm, 5pm, 6pm for example, for guided tours. You can't just wander in.) It's a picturesque enough place, but with a slightly dead feeling about hustle and bustle, no young people.

We drive on south westwards from Bedonia, and then head into the hills, up past Foppiano, turning northwards past the appropriately-named Alpe to Monte Chiodo, the narrow, bumpy, pot-holed road reaching 1,400ish metres, then down again, southeastwards through Caselporino, eastwards through Ponteceno, then southeastwards again to Bedonia and home.

This spectacular countryside on the fringe of the Parco Dell' Aveto is mostly steep mountainsides covered with deciduous woodland, with the occasional peak thrusting through the vegetation. The woodland presses closely on the roads, which means you get only fleeting glimpses of views, and the driver, wrestling with hairpin after hairpin, gets to see mostly eroded tarmac! Here and there a church tower rises from the trees, evidence of some lonely village. The hamlets through which we drive are perpetually overshadowed by mountains and trees, mossy, gloomy places, shuttered tight.

near monte chiodo

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