Day 44 – The Hospice at the Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard to Echevennoz –

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Woke this morning to see a spectacular blue sky from our bedroom window. Looks like we’ll be able to move on down into the Aosta Valley today.

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Leaving the safety and warmth of the Hospice to walk down through the deep snow into Italy – not knowing how hard our walk was to be.

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For safety reasons we walked down in a party of 5, being Thomas, Joe, Jenny, Peter and Sandy.

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Our last few moments of being able to stand upright and not sinking deep into the snow as we walked!

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Looking backwards towards the safety of the Hospice buildings.

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The walking party sets off in beautiful weather.

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The statue of St. Bernard at the top of the pass.

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After trekking down about 3kms on the Italian road route, often through thigh deep snow, we reached the cleared area where the Italian road workers were at work. An enormous amount of snow has been removed to clear the road- much yet to do as they slowly move up the pass.

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We now lift our speed as we leave behind the snow and the slippery ice to walk on cleared bitumen. However all this downhill is very tough on the knees.

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Wherever we look there is a picturesque outlook to the Alps.

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It’s now getting quite warm as we move lower into the valley so we’re removing our winter clothing.

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We couldn’t get enough of the beautiful scenes such as this one with the snow covered mountains, the stream and the green, green grass as we walked down into the Aosta Valley.

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Waiting to fill our water bottles at St. Rhemy, the first Italian village below the pass.

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Springtime gardens in the Alps are so colourful.

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Some of the many small villages we passed through on our way down the valley- all with magnificent outlooks like this.

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We reached Etroubles and hoped this building housed the Ostello we were looking for. But it didn’t – we had a further 3 kms to walk out of town and our legs were very tired after our big day. We were walking very slowly now.

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Looking towards the hamlet where the Ostello is located.

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At last – after a shower and a change of clothes it’s time to relax at the trattoria’s pretty terrace with a drink.

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Each village along the way in Italy has an information board showing the history of the Via Francigena path and pilgrimages.

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