We had to catch 3 trains from Milano, but I would have caught more if I had known what was at the end. The first 2 trains took us through the rice fields of northern Italy where we started our walk 10 weeks ago. The third train was much more adventurous taking us to 500 metres through the Aosta valley. This lush valley, it’s lower walls draped with grape vines, was straddled by the imposing mountains that followed the gently flowing rocky river. The closer mountains were snow free but those that shadowed them from behind still had their tall white peaks.

Down below the fortunate inhabitants enjoyed the spoils of what nature had given them. The one main ancient and delightful street of Aosta’s old town branched off each side into dozens of curious lanes, as it snaked through the valley on each side, continuing through village upon village, each one beginning where the other one finished. Quiet village lanes became busier streets and roads that tunnelled their way out of the valley to enter other smaller ones flanked again by ancient towns.

Wanting to explore and get more familiar with the snowy mountains, we spent 2 days climbing the smaller ones, and combing the valley for easier access. As we walked alongside the valley’s river we were entertained by waterfalls and waterways, the perennial quenchers of the rocky valley’s thirst. Past hilltop castles, hillside churches and curved slate roof houses below, we walked alongside the small sloping vineyards with a few cattle keeping the grasses low.

After 3 invigorating days we left our first ‘5 croissant’ hotel (Italian lodgings are often less than 2 by French standards), to catch our 3 trains back to our ‘4 croissant’ lodgings in Milan. On the way we imagined what it might be like to walk higher into the mountains flanked by Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn – maybe next year!

Back in Milan we found ’last minuto’ seats in La Scala to watch Figaro, and very lucky ‘last minuto’ tickets (often a month’s wait) to see Leonardo’s ‘The Last Supper’.

The last 10 weeks have been a feast and how fortunate we have been to taste so much – thanks for joining us on our journey.