This morning, just like Hannibal, (no, not Lecter ... the one, a Carthaginian general (247-182 BCE), we crossed the Alps into Italy. Hannibal came with African war elephants, surprising the Roman Empire and its armies and wining the 2nd Punic War (googled).
We came via a very comfortable train through gaps in the mountains, or through them ... along with constant picture shooting. Who could resist? It wasn't only us snapping lots of images - so were the Italian police who'd been on our train. They got off in the little ski-resort town of Bardonecchio, and stayed.
The trip through the Italian Alps (not a lot of snow yet as it's been a late autumn), was worth taking the train. A leisurely way to take in the scenery from Lyon to Turin.
So finally, we are in Turin, our first stop in Italy - my most favourite country in the world (besides Australia and New Zealand). Only staying one night here, but already it's so obvious we are in Italia.
It's not just the language, it's the buildings, the gelato, the chaotic but workable traffic flow, the fresh pasta shops, the marbled columns, the corridors and arches, terrazzo and tiled floors and pavements, and the well-dressed Italian men - yep, even the way they wear their scarves around their necks.
Tomorrow morning we're off to Vicenza (just west of Venice), the home of the Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580). He's arguably one of the world's most influential architects from long ago. Can't wait to see some of his amazing buildings.
Vicenza is also the other city where my work-in-progress novel, The Four Seasons of Caterina, takes place. It's the city where in 1715, my young Caterina faces her most difficult challenge, one that will change her life forever. So you can understand why I planned this side trip to Vicenza on our way to Venice. I expect much writerley/sensory input from our few days there.