After leaving La Thuile the bus crossed northern Italy to reach Rimini, skirting Milan, Parma and Bologna on the way. The trip took about 7 hours.
The valley of the river Po has a distinctive look, very different to Australia. It's hard to say why. Partly it's physical. The soil is light brown, rather than dark or reddish, the trees are different and the light has a kind of hazy warmth rather than the Australian harshness. But I think it's really about the relationship of people to the land.
First, it's a land clearly lived in. There are buildings and settlements scattered everywhere, often within walking distance of each other. Fields are small and generally well-tended. The ancient, unfriendly expanses we see in Australia aren't apparent.
Second, even the meanest barn is stone or brick, lending an air of permanence. Very old structures are mixed up with new ones, indicating long occupation.
Finally, we always have the feeling in Australia of a battle with forces beyond human scale. You don't get that feeling here. Italy is old, but Australia is ancient.