Theme: Wheat

This Monday’s theme is Wheat.

In the course of our daily walks around our home in the Essone, we see wheatfields upon wheatfields, still green, and in few weeks’ time, will turn into gold.

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These grains are quite different from the first one.  They have no spikes.

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This is barley, it has more spikes.  Barley is used as base in making beer.  It is also popular as a health food.

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When the grains are harvested, the grass is rolled into bales and used as feed for animals.  It is also now popular as insulation in homes.

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..and with some paint, it could be used as decorations.

Demonte, Italy

The Piemonte region of Italy which borders France in the North has always been our favorite destination because of its closeness to where we live and also because of its staggering scenery that comprises the snowcapped mountains of the Alps, fast flowing rivers, agricultural landscape, medieval architecture, tromphe l’oeils, historic churches and not to mention gastronomy.  It is a region where the finest wines are produced and the best porcinis come from. 

So when we started our trip back to Paris the other day, we willingly took upon ourselves to take the longer and more arduous drive through this northwestern region of La Dolce Vita instead of the traditional and getting-to-be-boring French autoroute.  We were ready for the slow and nearly 4-day driving itinerary as we wanted to make it fun as well as a holiday in itself for we have never taken a driving holiday for ages.

So today is Day 2 of that drive, Day 1 having spent in Borgo San Dalmazzo where we slept the night. 

Passing through this village, we were impressed by its medieval feel and charming facades. 

This is Demonte. 

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The arcaded streets

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A church’s tromphe l’oeil facade

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The route to the High Alps crossing towards France cuts through the village of Demonte and the passing of heavy goods vehicles is causing significant damage to the medieval foundation of the buildings as well as roads so the Demontesi (local residents) are protesting via these handwritten banners.

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The glaciered Italian alps in the background

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Even this meat shop is decorated with stencils, such art!

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“Vendesi” (For Sale)

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Inside a church

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Visiting a museum

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A traditional cava

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The historic Borgo San Dalmazzo

Piemonte, Italy

As we live just at the frontier of Italy, we sometimes take the train to Cuneo or Torino for a fix of the beauty of the Piemonte region framed by the  snowcapped mountains of the Alps.  This part of Italy is a postcard beauty and I cannot tell you how delightful it is stopping by for espresso or apperitivo in some remote town or village for it is like walking in an open museum complete with amazing gardens, murals, architecture ranging from Baroque to Renaissance to Classical.  There is so much history, too.

One town that always caught our curiosity is that of Borgo San Dalmazzo because of some strange sculpture installed right at the train station. 

Today, we had the chance to explore the town to unravel the mystery.

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The city of Borgo San Dalmazzo, named after a saint

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Traces of a wealthy past

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The stone and brick clock tower (1837)

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One of the 13 shrines representing the way of the cross which culminates into the Chapel of Montserrat on top of the hill

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Children’s playground featuring wooden tree houses and related activities.  Entrance is free to everyone.  Italians really give priority to their bambini..

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A sculpture for those San Dalmazzians who gave up their lives during the two world wars

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The image of the Virgin Mary seen at a villa facade

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Another mural of the virgin in a village home

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the mural up close…

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Life is a bed of roses…

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Tromphe l’oeil…yes, even the window

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and the strange sculpture I mentioned is this:

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“On November 21, 1943, 329 people were brought together here.  Men, women and children were put into train wagons and taken to the concentration camp Darcy, near Paris.  They were then taken to Auschwitz, were 311 of them were killed.  They were Jews from different countries, who had escaped from France and had been detained at a concentration camp near hear for two months before being deported.  On February 15, 1944, an additional 26 Jews were transported from here to Fossoli di Carpi and then onto Auschwitz and Buchenwald.  Only two of them survived.

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“The names of these people are written in a line, just like the way in which they were standing back then, when this piazza gave witness to them depart on their last journey after years of persecution, violence and humiliation.

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“The names of those who survived are written standing up as a living testimony in order to draw the attention of those passing by.

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“The names are written all attached according to family ties, since this is the way in which they left on the train wagons – pressed up against each other in an attempt to reassure one another in facing the unknown once again.

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“Each name is part of a network of ties that has been ripped apart.  The age and origin of each person has been written to tell the story of how many lives were brought together in Borgo, forced by a form of persecution without limits that a Europe at that time wouldn’t and couldn’t stop.

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“Each name is a ray of hope that has been extinguished forever.  Come closer.  The sounds of silence and the absence of people will help you to understand how much damage man is capable of causing when he puts himself and his rights above those of others.”

Epitaph
Memorial for the Deportation of the Jews
Borgo San Dalmazzo train station
Architects:  Kuadra Studio

……..

You might also like to browse on “Daily Photos: May 2011”

Concert in La Brigue

Today, Saturday, 14th of May, is the day of free concerts all over France and how doubly  lucky we are to watch a mandalin concert, in La Brigue, an instrument and village, respectively, close to our hearts!

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The performers are students of the Prince Rainier III Academy of Music in Monaco.

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The venue is the Collegiale Saint Martin, a richly decorated church of 17-18th century Baroque style

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The students are very young, probably ranging from age 8 to 20 and played movie soundtracks such as that of the Titanic, Mission Impossible, Indiana Jones, etc

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I am particularly impressed by the vioncello player

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This painting of the martyrdom of St Elmo caught my attention.  St Elmo is the patron saint of sailors and and lived in 300 BC. 

After the concert and after some sightseeing of the interior of the church, we went out for a quick walk.  The slight drizzle and the thick clouds over the mountains made the landscape truly magical…

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The village is bounded by the mountains of the Higher Alps

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The benches are made of grey stone which is indigenous of the region

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The garden of the Michelin-star hotel-restaurant

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A spectacular scenery!

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The village is marked by sculpted lintels on doorways

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I don’t know which one of these lintels is the oldest (year 1234)

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You may also want to see May 2011 Daily Photos