Location scout

EXILLES, PIEDMONT

We did a daytrip to the tiny village of Exilles in Piedmont. This is yet again one of those places that is little more than a dot on the map - a little mountain village an hour outside Torino by train towards France.

On the way, Lili took some photos from the train window - I will publish them as a separate blog post.

Exilles no longer has train service so you have to get off either at the station before it (Chiomonte) or the one after it (Salbertrand). We chose the latter as the Exilles website said to do so.

Once we got to Salbertrand we quickly noticed that there was nothing, and I mean nothing, that would take us to Exilles, a scorching five kilometres away uphill. The guys at the station even told us that the business card of the taxi on the bulletin board was from someone in another town - calling him would cost a fortune. There was some kind of a bus but no one really knew when it ran, google had suggested to me once every four hours and even that sounded unreliable.

So we did what any backpacking world travelling family would do: we went to play on the playground and fill our water bottles in the municipal fountain of ice cold mountain water.

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While there were no taxis or buses in Salbertrand, we found this excellent piece of local art - a Pig Planter! 

While there were no taxis or buses in Salbertrand, we found this excellent piece of local art - a Pig Planter! 

And then we decided to walk up to the main road and hitchhike as surely some nice Italian driver would pick up a nice tourist family with a little girl? It was probably about +35 degrees and full sun. For me that is a lovely day, but too much of anything starts to feel like, errr... too much, so we decided to wait for ten more cars and then start walking. And sure enough car number five pulled in and picked us up. The driver's name was Laura (great name) and she lived in Exilles. We had a great drive in, and most importantly she told us where to eat and who the local unofficial taxi driver was to take us back to the train in Chiomonte in the afternoon.

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Exilles was Dante's home for about three years when he was seven years old. He has told endless stories to Lili about the place, the little roads, the river, and the castle. An Italian version of 'Quatre cents coups' - tales of boys getting lost, getting into trouble, exploring the river and the castle, wildlife encounters etc.etc.

So Exilles has something of a legendary glow in our family.

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When we got there, it was like walking in a place where time had stopped still. Narrow cobblestone streets, low arched doorways, little balconies with laundry and pots of flowers and the odd person here and there. Water fountains spouting clear cool water and even an old laundry pool, completely as it was. Honestly, someone should go and make a movie in Exilles, no staging required. (Location scouting honorarium can be forwarded to me at my Canadian address thank you very much).

 Dante's old home. 

 Dante's old home. 

We spent a relaxed half an hour walking around and taking photos - we of course went to see the house where Dante used to live and while it has been refaced, it was exactly as before otherwise.

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One of the several water fountains in town. The water is straight from the mountains and is cold cold cold - so welcome on a hot summer day.

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Some 'movie set' images. 

Some 'movie set' images. 

Lunch at the town square. The cafe also is the grocery store. There is no menu, they just tell you what they have that day. We got two lovely salads with cheese and tuna and Lili had a toasted sandwich with local cheese. 

Lunch at the town square. The cafe also is the grocery store. There is no menu, they just tell you what they have that day. We got two lovely salads with cheese and tuna and Lili had a toasted sandwich with local cheese. 

Then we went to see the castle. 

Then we went to see the castle. 

And here is the story of the symbol of the 'third paradise' planted on the hill with lavender. 

And here is the story of the symbol of the 'third paradise' planted on the hill with lavender. 

The castle is huge, and it has been renovated for visits. It has one of the most dramatic elevator shafts I have ever seen! 

The castle is huge, and it has been renovated for visits. It has one of the most dramatic elevator shafts I have ever seen! 

In the elevator shaft cut looking out. 

In the elevator shaft cut looking out. 

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Some of the exhibits inside. 

Some of the exhibits inside. 

View out towards Chiomonte. 

View out towards Chiomonte. 

And here we are ready to take the train back to Torino. The cafe owner Walter is also the Exilles taxi driver. He drove us down. 

And here we are ready to take the train back to Torino. The cafe owner Walter is also the Exilles taxi driver. He drove us down. 

A great day!