Finally some skiers

Panorama: Border: France and Italy

We found the skiers...they're in another country! They're in France, actually, which is only a few miles from here.

Half an hour out of Sestriere, traveling pretty much due west, you hit the French border at the Italian town of Claviere (sounds French, I know, but it's in Italy). And just about a mile into France, we saw what we had been expecting to see here. People skiing! People sitting outside drinking and eating at quaint bars with their faces turned towards the midday sun and their skis and snowboards leaned up on the railing. On vacation, having fun. What a concept.

Montgenevre, just a bit more than a mile from Claviere, is connected to the Italian Olympic ski resorts as part of the Milky Way ski circuit. But at the moment, it's a whole different story on the French side of the border.

There's no construction. There's not a lot of police. There's no feeling of impending anything, like there is here. There's just skiing and having as good a time as possible.

We decided to get into the Montgenevre groove and have lunch and turn our faces to the sun too. The menu was full of quiches and crepes and baguettes and creme brulees. It was France after all.

Isn't that what makes Europe so special? That you can have a cappuccino for breakfast and a crepe for lunch after driving only a few minutes?

On our way back, we stopped to chat with the Italian border guard. (How is it that even Italian policemen are really handsome?) We asked him if anything was changing for the Games, if security was going to be tighter at the border seeing that there seemed to be so many Italian police around.

He said the open border would remain like it is during the Olympics. But he said the guards would probably be stopping more cars. He said the Italian border guards at Claviere stop only foreign-plated cars coming into Italy from France, not Italians coming back home.

And how does he decide who to stop? By who he sees in the car.

Hmmmm...That sounds like it could veer off into racial profiling.

By Daniela Deane |  January 25, 2006; 1:00 PM ET  | Category:  The Mountains
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