Trip Start May 07, 2005
117Trip End Ongoing
We decided to leave our bikes in Milan to make things easier in Biella. We've learned that some hosts are enthusiastic about showing us nearby sights. We love it - it's better than an expensive tour guide and those are the high points of our trip. However in those times are bikes just stay in the trunk of a car or a garage.
Gionni (pronounced Johnny) lives in a wonderful house. It's almost like a duplex with his part on one side and his mother and one or two brothers on the other. While we were there he let us have his whole side while he slept at his mother's side. That sort of generousity is just wonderful and we are very grateful.
Unfortunately Gionni and his brother Paulo had to work so we didn't have as much opportunity to get to know them but we did spend a lot of time with hid mother Rose and his youngest brother Mauro.
One day it rained so we stayed inside and caught up on email. The next day was beautiful and we drove to the wonderful church at Oropa. It is one of two churches in Italy with a black madonna. We had previously seen the other, more famous church at Lareto. Lareto is famous because it houses the manger where Jesus was born. Oropa is famous because many miracles have happened there. People have had visions, the statue has cried blood, that sort of thing. Also there is a water source that comes from consecrated ground so it is holy. Many people drive to Oropa with empty water bottles. We filled our water bottle there so we now consider our bottle holy. It's a one liter Aquafina bottle that we bought in a gas station in Texas mere hours before leaving the country. It's made it with us a long way and we hope to end our trip with it although I'm afraid it's too big and two or three half-liter bottles would be better.
In any case Oropa was very nice. There is a crypt underneath with another altar and some art
Rose offered to make lasagne for us. That would have been perfect for me since lasagne is my favorite food and I had never had it in Italy (I did finally have it in a café in Arona but it wasn't especially good). However Mauro specialized in pizza and was very excited to make some for us. That's just about Kim's favorite food and I also love pizza so we graciously allowed him to cook for us. He made five or six pizzas for the six of us. When Italians eat pizza they eat a lot of pizza. It was all good. The most interesting was an ingrediant that he called sausage. I love the spicy sausage that Americans call Italian sausage but this was a mild sausage that Americans call hot dog. I suspect that American Italian sausage doesn't really exist in Italy since they don't seem to like spicy foods, except maybe in the south.
To repay their meal we made tacos. It was a success. I mistook hot red pepper for flavorful chili power and put way too much in the meat before realizing it
I found their ethnicity very interesting. Their mother was Nigerian and their father was Italian. The kids were born in Nigeria but moved to Italy when they were young. I think Gionni wasn't sure what to expect from us and said perhaps jokingly that he was worried we were KKK.
The whole family was wonderful and even offered us a place to stay with their relatives in Nigeria. I'd love to take them up on that sometime.