Train to Cuneo, depart Torino Porto Nuova at 9:25. Torino Lingotto, Carmagnola, Cavallermaggiore, Savigliano, Fossano, Centallo, all these included. It's 91 km to Cuneo according to the road signs around town. One hour eleven minutes by rail.
Sign on the quay: "Do not go beyond the yellow line", and there's a bumpy yellow warning strip all along the edge so you don't fall onto the tracks. All very well and safety-concious. But there's also a bumpy yellow line at the top of the stairs. Um, it's rather useful to cross that line if you want to leave the quay. Coming up the stairs, you haven't seen the sign yet, so up you go. But then you're trapped. These are the things I consider while waiting on trains.
The train car is nothing special. Not very new, not very clean. But then I see another train at Savigliano and realize I'm lucky. The other train full of passengers is so covered in dirt and graffiti that the windows along one side are completely covered. If the inside is anything like the outside...
Torino to Cuneo is flat and dull, crossing the Po river plain. The morning is overcast, the grime on the windows contributing to make the landscape seem sad and grey. Days like that you think 'at least it isn't raining', though I don't want to say it and tempt fate. I did leave my anti-rain device at home. There must be mountains out there somewhere.
Stepping out of the station at Cuneo, the bus for Saluzzo is just pulling up. Answers that question for meeting up with my friends tomorrow. The schedule has such a bus coming around several times a day, though I'm unable to decipher whether this will be true on Saturday. There only seems to be the one schedule.
I find a hotel just off the main square and drop off my backpack, but I'll have to come back after noon to take possession of the room. Would have been nice to use the bathroom, but I'll live.
It's market day in Cuneo - time to explore the local goods.
When my friends the Gervasonis come through here on their way back from Rome, they always pick up some of the local specialty chocolates, and I had wondered if it would be difficult to find the right shop. I thought perhaps they knew some little place tucked back in a corner that you really have to know about to find. No worries there - Cuneesi are not a one-shop thing, but a town-wide competition to make these traditional cakes, and the more modern chocolate-clad kind.
All around the main square you can find them, and any sweet shop and bakery worthy of the name carries some. Small shops might only do three or four flavors, but the big ones offer two dozen.
An assorted pound of the chocolate kind, please. That's for taking home. I add a snack of just one of the non-chocolate covered kind, as a snack. oooh, that's good. Must get the royal assortment of those too!
I spend the day walking around the historical part of town. There's one main street with a deep arcade on either side. Many of the buildings are shrouded in scaffolding, but the façades you can see are a treat. Some are just done in simple colored plaster. Others have intricate stonework, and still others frescoes, either old or new.
I love the colors in Italy and southern France. The light, the flowers, the towns. Sometimes the black-clad people are quite a contrast to their houses and cities, as sleek and stylish and modern as can be, while around them they preserve the colorful brick and frescoed stucco style from centuries ago.
Ah, here's a regular supermarket. I'd like some quality balsamic vinegar and some local aperitifs to take home. I could find these things in the outrageously priced tourist boutiques, but really, the supermarket will do. The hard thing is not letting my eyes get too big for my luggage. I have to lug it all to the bus stop in the morning, and from the bus to my hotel in Saluzzo.