Colle del Gran San Bernardo — While the lovable, slobbering Beethoven may have earned Hollywood star status for his kind, Barry the Saint Bernard carried much more credit to his humble name. The Great St. Bernard Pass that leads into Switzerland wasn't far off from our lodgings, so a visit (by car) to where monks used to train the large breed as a rescue unit was a sort of salute to the canine world. Did we see a bunch of Saints? Well, yes and no. It depends if you're intent on seeing tables lined with stuffed pooches instead of living, breathing, panting hounds. Those rescuing days are long gone, having evolved into the hi-tech methods of modern times. I only remember having seen the dogs once on italian news where they were part of a search team. We didn't cross into Switzerland as Maddie and MrB had no passport, but we did take a short stroll around. The views are so unbelievably gorgeous in the Alps - no matter from where you are in the midst of it all.
Counting castles...what we need now is a lively jousting event and fair maidens. Valle d'Aosta is the land of castelli (castles), and spotting them is almost like engaging in a game of punch bug. I felt that it wouldn't be right to leave out such historical detail, but the sharp contrasts...you'll see what I mean in the photos. Now I don't know if it's due to Walt setting the standard on what a castle should look like, but through the dozen or so times that I've been here, not once did I make any real effort to appreciate these medieval landmarks that have withstood the test of time - save one. That would be the Castle of Sarre (3rd image), where we had our wedding photos taken. I believe that most castles are open to the public, and further info can be found here at Valle d'Aosta Castles . The Disney ish -looking one is Castle Saint Pierre (at right). It's a small world after all. Parking sign [P] and picnic tables (not shown) in front of Cast