Panoramic view as seen from the charming town of Pre-St-Didier in Valle d'Aosta.
Monte Bianco on the left, the Giant's Tooth on the right, signaled by an arrow.
3rd day, Courmayeur — The big alpine blue. It just takes your breath away. The sun is mercilessly harsh at this altitude, and the mighty Monte Bianco has to be one of the most impressive of natural wonders in Italy. We were nearing the region's northern border again, avoiding the Mont Blanc tunnel leading into Chamonix, France, and getting close enough to gaze in wonder at what is known as the 11th highest peak in the world. She is majestic at 15,781 feet above sea level, and therefore demanding the sort of climbing skills way beyond our experience.
We'll probably never visit during the busy ski season but there's one unique feature that nature buffs would appreciate - il Dente del Gigante - the Giant's Tooth. Second in popularity to Monte Bianco, this "tooth" is surrounded by myth for which I share an adaptation of the original. The giant in this case is Gargantua (of François Rabelais lore, not the japanese version). Upon his death, arrangements had been made for his tooth to be thrust into the icy white of Monte Bianco. Legend has it that within the tooth malicious spirits are desperately trying to escape. Let's hope they never do.
Once upon a time evil spirits roamed free in Valle d'Aosta. Desperate to be rid of such miserable trouble, the populace sought help from a magician in a faraway land. Moved by the people's distress, the magician went up into the valley uttering strange words, luring the attention of the unholy beings. They swarmed down the mountainside in large numbers: from the ravines, from the forests, from streams and rivers formed by the melting snow. Unable to resist the magician's pull, they followed as he led them all to Monte Bianco. Once there, the spirits were thrown into an icy abyss by an unseen force, to be imprisoned forever with the door of the Giant's Tooth.
A section of the Grandes Jorasses, northeastern range of the Monte Bianco massif
Three waterfalls cascade from melting glacial snow