Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Tolla & the Barrage de Tolla

As a slight deviation from our trip up to the Val d’Ese, we decided to stop at Tolla on the way back. I have never been to Tolla, but it turns out that it is a pretty little village just on the banks of another man-made lake (see l’Ospedale).

The temperature change was amazing – 9 degrees at the ski station and not 30 minutes away nearly 20, phew! Apparently there is a marked trail right around the edge of the lake which must be spectacular in the summer. We didn’t have time for that today, but the dam itself is a feat of modern engineering that you can cross on foot so we decided to be nosy.

I think this was one of my favourite sights of the day! Pretty much says all you need to know about swimming in this part of the lake! I’m not very good with heights, and the dam itself is HIGH, but it was so impressive that I had to get near enough to the edge to snap the sheer scale of it.

Click to view full size and see the steps down. This is so high I couldn’t take the top and the bottom in one photo even at a distance.

The vegetation in this area is thick with briar which at this time of year is full of white and pale pink flowers. Apparently this is one of the best woods for pipe-making as the trunk often deforms naturally into the shape of a pipe.

Briarwood was discovered to be the best material for pipes, because of its cool smoking quality and its durability. Prior to briar pipes, the most popular materials were clay and any other type of hardwood, such as Cherry-wood. Clay pipes were too fragile and broke easily, and non-briar pipes ended up in smoke along with the tobacco smoked in them. Briar was discovered around the 1850's and it has remained the most popular wood for pipe making ever since.

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