Friday 17 October.
We had a good sleep and didn't waken until after 6 am. I made a cup of coffee and we lay in bed reading the newspaper until about 8 am when we had breakfast. An hour later we were showered and dressed, ready for some sightseeing.
It didn't seem to take as long getting to the city centre as it did coming from there yesterday to find the hotel. It was basically the old town which was on the Roman frontier and enclosed in a city wall with watchtowers at the corners.
We walked through the narrow streets to the Hotel de Ville, the town hall, a magnificent building with a large square in front. More narrow streets lined with shops and restaurants took as to the old walls and the Praetorina Gate.
There was a tourist information office at the gate where we got a stamp for our credentials and obtained a book with maps and suggested stages for the Via Francigena in the Province. Also the woman who spoke perfect English pointed out on a city map the list of places of interest to visit. There were a dozen main ones and more termed 'other monuments'. We started at the first one which was near and made our way back through the town in the order they were on the map.
The Roman Bridge: Built in the first century BC it spanned the river Buthier, but that changed course after floods and flows a couple of hundred metres before the now dried up old river bed. While at the bridge we found the signpost and markers for our route out of Aosta tomorrow.
The Arch of Augustus: Built in 25BC to honour Emperor Augustus
Saint Orso Collegiate Church: Plain interior with little adornments, murals rather than decorative windows. The crypt contains the remains of, we think, Saint Orso. The cloisters were particularly interesting with different carvings on the tops of each of the pillars. The square tower was an attractive feature.
Basilica and the Church of San Lorenzo: The archeological remains of the burial place of the ancient Bishops of Aosta.
Praetorian Gate: The main access to the city of Augustus Praetoria. On each side are remains of the wall that date to 25BC.
Tower of the Signorim Sancti Ursa: this ancient tower was transformed in the Middle Ages to the home of a noble family known as Della Porta Sant Orso.
Roman Theatre: Had the capacity to hold 3000-4000 spectators. The southern facade is still partly standing as is the tiered semi-circular sitting area.
It took us most of the morning to walk around these features.We wanted to visit the cathedral before lunch but it was closed until 3 pm. Instead we headed to a supermarket bought a couple of beers then square slices of pizza from a take-away. We sat in a park and enjoyed our lunch in the sun. It had been cloudy when we set out but now most of the cloud had gone and it was very warm. After our break we continued to the points of interest.
Baliff's Tower and the Tourneuve: Two of the watchtowers on the corners of the old city walls.
Lepers' Tower: We weren't sure whether this was a watchtower or a place to lock up lepers.
By this time we were tired out and just wanted to visit the cathedral and call it a day. We had half an hour to wait for it to open again somfound a seat in the square in front of the Hotel de Ville to have a rest. From our seat we had a perfect view of the ridge above Pila, there was no mist or haze now and the peaks, some with a coating of snow, stood out clearly against the blue sky.
Cathedral: When we went in there was a service taking place. We slipped in at the back and people were going up to the altar to receive Holy Communion. We thought it would then soon finish but it continued for another 10 minutes. There was some beautiful singing by the choir and readings by the priest. It finished when a procession with a coffin came up the aisle, it had been a funeral. Once the mourners had left we had a walk round. It wasn't particularly impressive, in fact very plain except for the paintings and murals. Outside the building was in two parts, the old twin steeples and a more modern front section. The front entrance was unusual with paintings around the archway.
Now we had had enough for one day and needed a rest before more walking tomorrow. But we got lost on the way back and were longer on our feet than planned. Once on the right track I picked up a camping Gaz cylinder at a hardware shop near the hotel, the one I was using ran out this morning. When we got to the room Moira got ready to go out again, she was off the big supermarket for her new shoes. I stayed in, made a cup of coffee and tried to get into the Internet. I couldn't get connected and later Moira had the same problem with her iPad. Yesterday it said there was 24 hours free WiFi, we thought that if you switch off it wasn't counted towards the time, it appears it didn't make any difference. The annoying thing is that there was no way to connect, it didn't say if you want more time it will cost €x, just nothing. The woman in reception wasn't any help, just a shrug of the shoulders, like the French. We had to make do with reading tonight no radio to listen to.
Moira got shoes, not the ones she saw yesterday but a pair of Reebok at the bargain counter, just €26. She also got a Bar-B-Q chicken for dinner. Once the dinner was finished and the washing up done it was an evening of relaxation and reading.