It is time to leave Sesto and head for the South. We decide to avoid Milan (and Gallarate!!!) by heading due South. Frank points his finger to a tiny wiggly road on the map, saying this is where he wants to stay the night, in the basin of the Ticino River, probably amongst the rice paddies. We do a number of things on the way, shopping for food, washing Emma, filling up with firewood and water, so by the time we arrive at our destination, the place is drenched in moonlight. We sense that it is a beautiful place, an old abandoned mill to our left and open space to our right, but nevertheless, the next morning, we have a surprise in store for us!
For more pictures of this amazing frosty morning, click here.

We warm up sawing some wood and get Emma ready to go. Our plan is to drive to Salsomaggiore, a town with a hot thermal spring, but we are only about 500 metres down the road when we are stopped by a passing car. “You are on your honeymoon? Would you like to join us for lunch in a farmhouse restaurant in the middle of nowhere?” You bet we do, even if we’ve just had breakfast and turning around proves to be a bit difficult with rice paddies on both sides of the very narrow road.
The restaurant is a glorified living room in a farmhouse, and we get served a fixed menu, simple but tasty. Franco and his father-in-law Luigi are very nice, and we try and practice our Italian while Franco uses the opportunity to speak English. They are from Bergamo, on a Sunday outing to go hunting and eat at their favourite restaurant, Cason Pol . During lunch, Franco gives us many names of places we absolutely must go and see. Top of the list is Certosa di Pavia, so after a hearty farewell, we cross the Ticino River and have a look at this extraordinary monastery. As soon as we enter the grounds, we tag onto a French group of tourists with the funkiest guide ever, who is hilarious, whilst at the same time being incredibly knowledgeable. I wish I could understand all the nuances of her stories, she has the whole group in stitches.
Taking photos is expressly forbidden with repeated signs and verbal warnings from the tour guide. These have the opposite effect on the group – everyone, including Frank,  is snapping away as soon as the guide or any of the guards are looking the other way. The interior decoration is immaculately preserved, according to our guide due to the fact that there’s never been any artificial heating in the building.


Click here for more photos.
We come back to Emma just as dusk is settling over the fields. A couple of hours driving takes us to Salsomaggiore, where serendipity leads us to a great car park for campervans right by the station.

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