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2022 Liguria, Piemonte, Lake Como

Ian Sutton

1000+ Posts
My wife is interested in seeing Turin. Surprises me, but not having been there maybe it reminds her of Paris? The history of the Savoy's interests me. We drove from Nice to Beaune 2 years ago and she asked me to stop in Bourg-en Bressa....where the heck is that?! She read about the Royal Monestary of Brou. The story of Margaret Duchess of Savoy is interesting, her early love story with Philibert Duke of Savoy would make a great movie if not already done. Ian, what area of Turin do you like to stay?
Hi Beerman
For a first stay, I'd suggest somewhere in the large rectangular ZTL borderded by the River Po to the east, Corso Vittorio Emanuelle II & Stazione Porta Nuova to the south, Corso Inghilterra to the west and Corso Regina Margherita / Piazza della Repubblica to the north. That's a pretty big area, but the public transport is very good and you'll find it easy to get around in there.

If you like apartments, we've very much settled on the 'residence' style apartments (with staff in the office on a lower floor) http://www.residencetorino.info/ita/index.php The apartments are a good size, well-fitted and mostly modern, but with a few antiques / older furniture to give them some style. As a location it's superb, as it's about a 5 minute walk from where the airport drops off for Porta Nuova train station, handy for the train station itself, plus has a decent selection of public transport options, though do note the '1 way system', which means trams go north along via XX Settembre, but return a block across (I think via dell'Arsenale). The major porticoed arteries of Corso Vittorio Emanuelle and via Roma are super close.

Another we stayed in and enjoyed, though the cleaning staff kept turning the heating up for us :wft: was Residence du Parc, south of Corso Vittorio Emanuelle, on the edge of Parco Valentino. The apartments were huge but priced fairly, a little utilitarian/plain, but lovely to be able to spread out. On two later occasions we checked and the prices were high - not sure if this was temporary / linked to events, or them 'repositioning' themselves. I mention them as I know you all enjoy walking, and this is a good bit of greenery in a reasonably central location. Trams 9 and 16 are handy to get direct from there to the market (sad old Ian remembers the tram numbers!).

Bad areas? Yes every city has them, but only in the area north of Piazza della Repubblica did I ever feel even a little uncomfortable during the day, but I'm sure there are other moderately iffy neighbourhoods.

Yes very much a Savoy city with an Italian twist, with a rather easy to navigate grid system for most of it. There are museums, but pleasingly they tend towards the quirky & unusual, and apparently the Egyptian museum got a very good (and much needed IMO) makeover.

Time of year. Like most cities, I'd avoid it in summer. April/May a time of year we've really liked, and it gives us access to nespole and wild/alpine strawberries, but perhaps October/November is ideal, as you'll get porcini, black and the expensive (but wonderful) white truffles, chestnut stalls enticing customers with the aroma, plus the fog coming down over parts of the city (e.g. via Po) can be wonderfully atmospheric. We also did early December one year, to catch the christmas markets (which were ok, but not brilliant). I liked it at that time of year as well.

There are some wonderful food shops, restaurants, enoteche, plus at least one brewery in the city, but I think there might be a few. Check out the (slightly punny) turismotorino website for events such as tramcar dining, but also some interesting 'producer visits' as I do recall at least one brewery tour being run via them.

I'll dig out the google map I made up / updated 'Torino food explorer'. We've not been since Covid arrived, so some may have gone, but others will have emerged as well. Hopefully this link works
 

BEERMAN

10+ Posts
Northern Italy 2022, (September 3-14)



Yet another beautiful sunrise at Luisa's Smile, less nebbia this morning. I had packed fairly light and I needed to do some laundry. The greeter had shown us the laundry room, which is shared space with the owners. It was early and I didn't want to chance disturbing the owners or my sleeping beauties by banging around, so I simply hand washed a few items and hung them on drying racks in the sunroom near the kitchen, no biggie.

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We would be having dinner at Mira Langhe this evening and since I bought extra pasta that could be breakfast? sure why not! Guarene is so quiet and our mornings spent in the gorgeous garden off the kitchen was a peaceful start to our days.


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It was decided that the famous town of Barolo would be our first stop today, it's about 12 miles and 20 minutes. At this stage of the trip we really didn't encounter any traffic, I'll assume that July/August is a different story? There are several parking options near Barolo, but we didn't panic park and found a space up close. Compared to yesterday we noticed a lot more visitors in this town of 650 residents, but there was room to breathe, I actually expected a larger crowd.


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This is a beautiful hill town! We had considered this as a home base, it would have certainly been a totally different experience compared to Guarene. They are set up well for many visitors with plenty of shops and cafe/ristorante's. I expected Barbaresco to feel more like this, but we liked their differences. We walked the whole town and the outer ring is very quiet, majority of visitors hover in the busy town center. The 2 airbnb's we considered were in a nice quiet section and there was a small cafe with terrace there, that certainly would have been our go to spot. I remember that parking wasn't included with those airbnb's, now having been there parking would not be a concern, at least this time of year. With a larger crowd there was surprisingly no hustle and bustle, everyone seemed to just be chilling out, nice. There were no tour groups, shops weren't crowded, but I'll also assume in summer months this changes?


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We discovered that the majority of ristorante's required that you have a meal, we were just looking for a drink. On the edge of town we found a less crowded cafe that was nice enough to let us forgo a full lunch, thank you DiVin Cafe! We simply asked for the house wines and the nice waitress brought out a Teo Costa Nebbiolo d'Alba and Barale Fratelli Barolo, very pleased with both.


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After drinks we walked back to the center and the ladies would not be denied gelato, hazelnut I think. On the way to the car we said shouldn't we at least buy a bottle? The ladies went into the Marchesi enoteca while I got the car, funny as I waited curb side I could see them talking to the shop keeper with a glass of wine in hand, I'll be idling for a while! When they got in the car they showed me a Gillardi Langhe Nebbiolo from Dogliani which is just south of Barolo ...I said "what, no Barolo?...it's all good! Kinda similar to me buying a Ruche' in Barbaresco ! By the way this wine was very good on Lake Como, but I'm getting ahead of myself.


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Next stop Serralunga, another medieval town about 6 miles away. Won't get tired of saying "what a beautiful hill town!" This classic hill town of less than 600 residents has a great tall castle! Serralunga was designed well to defend, or at least they could monitor the activity on the lower fields. There were very few people here. You can tour the castle, but we decided to stay outdoors except for admiring the inside of the church like we do in every town. The views of the countryside are amazing in all of these towns. Barolo and others are such close neighbors, I read they would communicate to each other using lanterns or torches, cool!


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When we told Maurizio (Mira Langhe) that we were going to Serralunga he said they produce some of his favorite wines. On a quiet terrace we took the edge off with a nice panini with fresh mozzarella and speck, ladies had Nebbiolo Serralunga d'Alba and I had a medium birra. After lunch we continued our walk around town and stopped in a charming wine shop that also has a small section of meat and cheese etc, I would buy some dried porcini's here to take home. I saw they had boxes to carry 3 bottles, so we decided 3 would do just fine. The nice shop owner helped us decide on a Massolino Langhe Chardonnay, Boasso Gabutti -Barolo and a Pira Barolo -Serralunga, I think we were set for Lake Como!


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It was getting late in the afternoon and we decided on just one more stop and chose La Morra, which has a great road system around it. This small town is much higher up than the others at almost 1700 feet, cyclists didn't seem intimidated by the long steep climbs. From the parking lot the town felt big, but once inside it's pleasantly small. This is yet another Roman era town rich in history, population 2700, multiple churches and the amazingly large Piazza Castello. I read that there were strict ancient laws that prohibited cutting down the nebbiolo grape vines, I'll assume the severe consequences were carried out on this piazza. La Morra has wonderful wines of course, but we simply walked around. We found a visitors center, shops, restaurants, cafe's etc similar to the other towns we visited. What this town has over the others we visited was the panoramic views of the Langhe region, INCREDIBLE! If we had chosen to stay here the sunrise and sunsets would have been off the chart. It was time to head back to Guarene, excited for dinner at Mira Langhe.


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It took about 20 minutes to get back to the comforts of Luisa's Smile. Forgot to mention we tried the Ruche' with last night's pasta, the ladies enjoyed it again while getting ready for dinner, I had a birra while folding my now dry clothes. Our timing was perfect and promptly arrived for the 7:30 seatiing. Funny "you know you're in a small town when..." ..we were greeted by a different waitress and she had trouble finding our reservation, then a waitress we knew walked up and said "hi, tables ready" as we walked in the waitress we didn't know says "oh, the Americans!"



Maurizio walks to the table at the same time carrying a decanter of very deep red wine, says proudly "Barolo"! how awesome is that! Then Ana shows up with another bottle of Nebbiolo d'Alba and says "if I might recommend this to start..." Ana always thoughtfully and passionately describes the wines and where they are from. Over our 3 days we learned so much about Piemonte wines from her. This small production Nebbiolo d'Alba was from just a couple miles away at Azienda Agricola Margherita. She then tells us the Barolo will pair nicely with the fassona beef we'll have later. The Barolo is from Boggione Claudio, another relatively small producer. We really enjoyed that all of the wines we had here were from the vicinity and by small producers, all were very good recommendations. Only downside is that we won't find them in our local Total Wine stores in Virginia!

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A long table was set up for 30 people in the center of the dining room, explains the extra waitress! Reminds me that an embarrassing thing happened on our way out of Guarene this morning, I approached a Bride and Groom taking pics and 50 guests spread out in the plaza. I slowly and respectfully eased the Audi through the crowd, nobody seemed agitated at me. As we started down the hill my daughter sees a big road closed 9:30-11:00 sign...it was 10:50. I did not see a sign on the side I came from ugh! And yes, some of the 30 diners from Nieve may have recognized me as "that guy"!!

The sunset view from the dining room was spectacular, in the distance just 3-4 miles away is Alba. The dining experience was again outstanding, especially when the wedding party would break out in song, cool. Tonight's meal was served family style (see menu pic) Tray after tray of delicious appetizers were walked around the room, as soon as you finished what was on your plate the tray returned to offer you seconds, how do Italians maintain their weight!! We literally tried each item on this menu with the exception of extra desserts. Ana also wheeled out a cart full of local cheeses to try, so many varieties and so gooooood! The wine, the food, the people and atmosphere made for a perfect night. Ana asked if we'd like a digestivo, we declined and thanked her for a memorable dinner.


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So we thought the night was over, until we saw the "Goats" gathered outside, some of the 15 we met previously. The men of the town have a fraternal order and they are known as "Goats" Maurizio says "come sit", we could not resist. Now our daughter could get by with a little with French while I kept Chiara nearby to translate. We are handed Genepi again, but once that was done my new friend Bruno pours Vermouth into my glass and says "it's good!". The conversation was really enjoyable, some Goats were very reserved but interested in the conversation. Local farmer Bruno likes to joke and if I asked Chiara to translate she might say "I can't repeat everything, but..." That alone made the reserved Goats laugh many times. Maurizio and Bruno asked if I wanted to be a Goat, with the help of Chiara I said yes, but is there an initiation ritual, they all looked around laughing! It was really late when we started saying our goodbyes and Bruno tells Chiara not to let us leave until he returns. Soon he returns with a box of big peaches, we each take one, smelling the ripeness and saying grazie. He hands the whole box to us and says to enjoy them at Lake Como. This community has the most generous and genuinely nice people we have ever met, I highly recommend a visit!

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To be continued..............
 

Ian Sutton

1000+ Posts
Excellent to see the Boasso / Gabutti Barolo. We stayed in their apartments on our last visit, and despite not knowing much about them in advance, and not going into the tasting with huge aspirations, we were very much impressed, and not just with the Barolo wines, as their Barbera absolutely aligned to our tastes and we've since managed to find some more in the UK. Very much a traditional style producer, so oak influence will be very subtle/discreet. Both that and the Pira should age well, but if you can't wait, a nice juicy steak or a roast should suit them well.

Re: the wedding / road blocked thing. Italians seem to have a very healthy attitude to such things. Come screeching through there as normal, and there might be a lot of hand-waving / shouting, but by gently easing through, there's no angry pointing at watches & gesticulating. Very much a live and let live / you don't get in our way, we'll not get in yours attitude.

Indeed we had a not entirely dissimilar situation in 2012, when we drove to Piemonte from the UK and had at that point been in Italy for over 2 weeks. My partner needed to move the car about 50 metres to a more sensible parking spot. As she got in the car, she didn't even bother to pull onto the correct side of the road and simply pootled the car into the available space, driving on the wrong side of the road. Traffic passed her (on the wrong side of the road for them), seemingly seeing the situation and accepting it as a pragmatic manoeuvre. I mentioned this to her and said "you're driving like an Italian now!". It turns out she'd actually briefly forgotten to drive on the right, but to the rest of the people there, they'd never have realised!

Carne Cruda. I've had this a few times, and whilst I've enjoyed it, it's definitely a 'once per holiday' thing for me, as having it 2-3 nights definitely dulls the interest. We probably do get served cockerel in the UK, masquerading as chicken, but the Piemontese very much respect the cockerel in its own right.
 

BEERMAN

10+ Posts
I think in the states I've had "steak tartare" just a couple of times in my life. I had Carne Cruda twice on this trip, I enjoyed it very much, but I liked bread with it. The ladies enjoyed it also, we are not opposed to trying new foods, but not sure they'll order it over here.

The wines didn't make it home for aging, we enjoyed every drop on Lake Como, in the process of starting that next report. And there's an interesting driving incident with this report!
 

joe

1000+ Posts
No doubt, the view of the Langhe and its hilltop villages is unforgettable. Good for you that you had the clear skies to experience it.
We first enjoyed this scenery in 2008, we were staying at an organic agriturismo/winery just below La Morra. The whole week before we had dismal weather (this was last week of October), but on our first morning here we were rewarded with clear skies and the stunning views you have shown here. Was hard to grasp the beauty of it all the first time...
 

BEERMAN

10+ Posts
No doubt, the view of the Langhe and its hilltop villages is unforgettable. Good for you that you had the clear skies to experience it.
We first enjoyed this scenery in 2008, we were staying at an organic agriturismo/winery just below La Morra. The whole week before we had dismal weather (this was last week of October), but on our first morning here we were rewarded with clear skies and the stunning views you have shown here. Was hard to grasp the beauty of it all the first time...
Unforgettable for sure. Looking around the wide panorama we realized that there are a lot of towns we need to come back and visit! Our timing on the weather couldn't have been better.
 

Penn251

100+ Posts
Have you decided on a homebase?
We rented a house in the countryside near Cossano Belbo. Not in the thick of things but close enough to a lot of different places. We will divide out time between just hanging out and taking day trips around Piemonte.
 

BEERMAN

10+ Posts
Northern Italy 2022, (September 3-14)



Today is bitter sweet, Guarene and the many towns around it deserve much more time, sad to leave. However, we did pack a lot into our 3 night stay , especially memories. As I mentioned before my wine knowledge is fairly limited, but certainly was enhanced greatly during our visit here. We've enjoyed Piemonte wines many times before but never really appreciated them the way we do now. The Nebbiolo grape, it's a wonderful gift and at least at this moment, is our favorite grape! No disrespect to Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir or Sangiovese, we'll always stay friends!



Sunrise would not disappoint, but would this gorgeous weather continue? I went to the kitchen early to start my wife's kettle for tea and made coffee. The ladies joined me earlier than usual and we enjoyed some time in Luisa's Smiles magical garden.


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Our check out time was 11am and packing didn't take much time. We usually would see the owners on their balcony around 10am, unfortunately not this morning, so I wrote them a thank you note and left it on a table. We had time to take a morning walk in a direction we had yet taken, it's so calm and peaceful walking here. As we returned to grab our bags we see the owners Flaminia and Dario walking out of church, ciao!!. They had a friend with them who spoke a little English and translated how wonderful a time we had in their lovely home, wishing we could communicate better with these very nice people! We loaded up the car and unfortunately had to leave the key inside when we closed the door one last time and said goodbye to Luisa.


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We had to stop in at Mira Langhe. Over late night Genepi and Vermouth I kept asking who was the "Mayor" or "Head Goat" and everyone always pointed at each other laughing. As we said our goodbyes in walks an older man and Chiara leans to me and says "here comes the Mayor"... Annalisa's father!! He was as warm and gracious as his family and certainly deserving of the title. Maurizio asks my daughter what year she was born then disappears, he returns with a bottle of wine. Looking perplexed and shaking his head he puts the bottle down and opens a large cabinet, reaching high up he retrieves a 1974 Gaja Barbaresco , dusting it off he hands it to my daughter. I say that's way too generous and they reply it probably wasn't stored properly but wanted us to display it in our cave. We are absolutely floored. After thank you I said now I have to construct a cave! We exchanged contact info in case they ever made it across the pond, hope they do. We are already talking about a return visit to lovely Guarene! The entire Mira Langhe gang joined us for a photo and gave me permission to post. Here is our extended Guarene family!


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Waving "until we meet again" I stopped in the bakery and grabbed some warm focaccia for the drive. We were heading to Nesso on Lake Lure, we laughed saying this focaccia is so damn good! We didn't go the most direct route, instead choosing to avoid Milano and drove due north. The snow capped Alps were so close it was tempting to find a little town at its base, but opted for a break in Sesto Calenda on the southern most shore of beautiful Lake Maggiore. Took 1.5 hours to get here. We've stayed in Stresa before and this lake was one of our home base options. It was a fairly quick stop for pizza and to stretch our legs a bit on the busy waterfront. Sesto Calenda had a modern feel with a little old charm mixed in, homes and communities we saw had a familiar suburb feel.



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We texted our greeter and told her we would arrive around 3pm. Remember when travel required you to find a pay phone?! The hour drive to Como was easy. From Como it was another 20 minutes to Nesso. The road along the picturesque lake is very narrow in sections. It was a Sunday and there was a lot of traffic, especially outbound at 2:30pm. Now, I am not a timid driver, I actually trained at a few US racing schools, including Formula. My concern is always the other driver and many were overdriving the conditions. On a tight turn we actually struck side mirrors with another car! I was as far right as possible, my daughter saw a stone wall inches from her passenger door! I understood that an F1 race was running today at Autodromo Monza, but I didn't appreciate the wanna be Max Verstappen's we encountered!


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Safely in Nesso we met our greeter in our convenient parking space near Chiesa Senti Pietro e Paolo. FYI the mirror survived. She said traffic would lessen on Monday, thank goodness! We grabbed our bags and strolled the beautiful narrow stone walkways down to Villa Lombardi. Arriving at the entrance we knew we found what we were looking for. Once through the main entrance we were taken back by the incredible views.


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With the sound of old vintage hardware creaking we entered the front/side door. Oh my, we just walked into old world luxury. Very tall ceilings with exposed beams, glorious light filled the rooms through huge stained glass windows. The main level contained a large living room, large master, two smaller bedrooms and 2 baths. Before I forget, the 2 small bedrooms are small, great for a family but couples looking for equal bedrooms would not be satisfied. Our daughter spent the first night in a small back bedroom then switched to the pull out sofa in the spacious great room, said it was way more comfortable there.


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Down a flight of internal stairs, watch your head! is the amazing kitchen with dining area, very well equipped. There's a kitchen door that leads out to the 4 amazing terraced gardens. The main terrace includes table/chairs, grill and a separate convenient building on the far end with bathroom and laundry room.


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Continued walking down the outside stone walkways and you have access to a pier, boathouse and a door to the Piazza Vecchia, a small local swimming area that we would certainly take advantage of. Greeter walked us back to the pier and said her ride was waiting, they motored in to grab her bag and handed me a cold birra!! We were told that the lake is about 4 feet lower than normal due to this summer's historic drought. She also told us the depth on the edge is about 80 meters and said it's easier to just jump in and swim to the boat, ciao SPLASH! What a great job!!


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This property is absolutely beautiful. The ladies wanted our final villa to be a place we could just chill out and not be on the move so much, well they found the right place! I had researched great hiking trails around the lake, one was just up the hill behind us, but that activity will have to wait for another trip. After familiarizing ourselves with our beautiful surroundings we walked up the hill to see what we could see. The town of Nesso is.... TINY! There is a small grocery 2 minutes away that had enough to get by including wine, which we brought plenty! Their hours are kinda hit or miss, if you miss come back in an hour and it's open. There are also 2 bars and one restaurant within a 10 minute walk. At the top of the well worn cobble stone walkway we made a dinner reservation at the Tre Rose for 8:30 then grabbed some birra and headed back down.


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As I took some picks near a villa a gentleman pokes his head through a gate and says ciao! waving us in? Back home I don't think I'd enter the gate ha! His wife was having wine on their incredible terrace and they spoke very very little English . I said we were staying at Villa Lombardi and he replied "si, Lombardi amico!", sort of figured out our owner was diving in Corsica? We toured their amazing garden with large cypress, boxwoods and ornate statues while he pointed out things. I had trouble tracking most of what he was saying but we enjoyed trying to figure it out! His wife sat quietly smiling when we said we needed to get ready for dinner...strange encounter, but not uncomfortable. I must learn a little Italian. We laughed on our way to the villa, wondering why is everyone we're meeting so nice and generous? Back in our private little slice of paradise we opened a bottle and watched the sun disappear.


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The sun drops early and quickly behind the steep mountain across the lake, however there's still an hour or so of twilight that offered us a pleasant walk back up the hill for dinner. The Hotel Tre Rose has a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. Our outdoor table with views of the lake was perfect, felt great to be here. We were starving and ordered 2 appetizers, grilled vegetables and caprese salad, delicious HUGE portions!


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Limited English spoken here as well, but the menu was straight forward. Surprising we hadn't had a lot of pasta up to this point, just small apps. We each ordered different pasta dishes, mine was "lake fish ragu", my first ever fish ragu was excellent. The food was generous, hearty , tasty and exactly what we needed. Service was extremely good and fast considering the waiter had to cross the road to access the kitchen.



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We had gotten used to 3 hour dinner events, I think we were walking down the path in half that time, which was perfect because we were tired. One thing that I really enjoy about travel is not wanting or even thinking about turning on a TV. This villa does not have a/c and I was concerned about that from the moment we booked, the ladies don't require a/c. It actually wasn't needed at this time of year, night temps were in the low 60's and with the large windows open it was very comfortable, no mosquitoes! We went to bed happy, thinking about what this place will look like at sunrise. Ciao!


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Ian Sutton

1000+ Posts
Uh-oh! Sounds like the start of a nebbiolo addiction :p;)

That really was an incredibly generous gift. A wine bottle from arguably the most prestigious / most famous Barbaresco producer, from a very good vintage. Storage does matter, yet wines can surprise us.

What you can do is shine a torch or hold a candle flame towards the bottle and look for the colour. If you see no colour or it appears muddy brown, it's probably (but not definitely) dead. If you see pale red, then let your optimism kick in. I have a bottle of 1974 Barbera from Prunotto that had such a colour when I bought it 3-4 years ago, and Barbera isn't meant to age well!!

If you do intend to open it and try it, then especially considering its age, stand it upright for a few days before opening, to allow the very fine sediment to settle, and once opened, try to pour without overly shaking the bottle, as that sediment can be bitter and thus cloud the delicate/ethereal taste of fully mature nebbiolo.... oh and don't forget to sniff, as some of the aromas can feel unique to that individual bottle. I'm often the sad geek spending 5-10 minutes casually sniffing it before actually taking a sip!! Finally, if it seems dead, don't give up all hope. Let it sit open for a while, having a little taste every hour or so. Sometimes (but there's no science / hard & fast rules / consistency) the wine seems to react positively with finally getting some air after all these years, and starts to taste and even look(!) younger. This sounds like 'mumbo-jumbo', but some wine lovers swear by it, specifically with nebbiolo. It probably helps to sacrifice a chicken, though goose, guinea-fowl or similar should work fine (roasting it of course ;) ).

A few of us praise Italian hospitality away from the major tourist areas, and that generosity typifies it (and some!). When it happens, we can feel blown away by it.

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On the whole, we find Italian driving to be highly skilled, resulting in them driving closer than we would. We've not had an accident, nor near to having one. There are however some regions where the 'need for speed' is stronger than it should be, and chatting to a resident near Bologna, they explained that the proximity of major bike and sports car manufacturers, plus Imola, means there are a few who simply drive like fast idiots. Perhaps Monza similarly attracts people the Aussies would call 'hoons'.

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Wow! Those high ceilings in Nesso!! I see what you mean about vintage luxury. It probably helped to keep it cooler as well.

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Whilst I agree with you about the TV thing, and indeed the owner of the Politian apartments in Montepulciano would vehemently agree with you (no TVs in his apartments because he's embarrassed by Italian TV), I have a weak spot for the 6:30pm-8pm quiz show called l'eredita. It's incredibly long-running, with a format that gets tweaked from year to year, but now always ends with 'la ghigliottina' (the guillotine). 5 pairs of words are presented, but the contestant has to guess which is connected (wrong answers halve their winnings), leaving them with the 5 (often obtusely) connected words. They *simply* have to guess what the single word is that connects them. I have never guessed the word correctly, yet have been convinced I'd got it a couple of times. It really is a super way to reinforce learning the language.

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Dinner length. It is something that English, Americans, Aussies find something of a shock, especially with the modern trend (blame f*cking Gordon Ramsay) for trying to turn tables around faster to get more groups in each night. Very occasionally they do genuinely forget, but the vast majority of the time it is indeed a leisurely pace and that's your table for the whole of the evening (or lunchtime). We've sensed that sometimes they've tried to adapt for our accents and speed up the service for the foreign guests, but for our part, there's absolutely no need or desire for that to happen. We're in Italy because we enjoy the culture and we want them to be themselves and treat us like they would anyone else eating there.

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I wanted to finish on a very small comment you made, but one that resonates strongly with me, and ties into some advice I gave on another post here yesterday

This property is absolutely beautiful. The ladies wanted our final villa to be a place we could just chill out and not be on the move so much, well they found the right place!

It's so easy to feel like we want to see so much, that we try to expertly fit the most into the time available, but having a clear idea of the 'flow' of a holiday can really make it work for us. I very much like the idea of a relaxing rural/coastal/lakeside location to finish. We've indulged ourselves running around and now is the chance to have a leg that allows us to just potter around, soak in the sun, the scenery and the culture.

Occasionally I'd suggest reversing this order, specifically where jet lag is expected to be a problem, as quieter places without the bright lights and noise can be much better, as our bodies adapt to the new daylight and darkness timings. That's also good if we're travelling tired. However if those aren't a factor, I definitely lean towards that last leg being a chance to really relax and embed in the setting & culture.
 
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joe

1000+ Posts
We rented a house in the countryside near Cossano Belbo. Not in the thick of things but close enough to a lot of different places.
Lovely choice, in our favorite area of Piemonte : the Alta Langa.
In Cossano Belbo itself there is a modern artisanal mill called Mulino Marino (a family-run operation with the typical history of businesses like this) that we visited in 2016. We left with about 4 kilos of polenta flours, part of which my wife used during the trip itself. Really nice staff, and we appreciated the organic emphasis. They sell a variety of grains and pastas as well, and seem to be very respected.
They have a very good website :

Two pics I took from our visit, and we will definitely return next time :

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joe

1000+ Posts
@BEERMAN, it looks like Piemonte has caught you in its lure, just like some of us here on the forum. I'm betting that you will be back in no time.... ;)

Agree with you and Ian about taking it easy on the last day of the trip, a lesson I learned after usually doing the opposite. Well, getting older actually gets you ahead on some things....
 

BEERMAN

10+ Posts
@BEERMAN, it looks like Piemonte has caught you in its lure, just like some of us here on the forum. I'm betting that you will be back in no time.... ;)

Agree with you and Ian about taking it easy on the last day of the trip, a lesson I learned after usually doing the opposite. Well, getting older actually gets you ahead on some things....

Ian, there is good color and just a little sediment (I'll attach a pic), however I agree with my wife that it will be displayed intact as our new friends intended. It's so tempting to try though! It comes with a great story and when our friends ask if it's drinkable we'll simply say "of course!" As far as dinner, one night a younger couple maybe American? arrived after us and left before us, they seemed agitated at the service always looking around, they were finished in under an hour. They'll learn to relax one day!

Joe, you will win that bet! As far as taking it easy, we haven't gotten to the point of planting ourselves at a resort and not budging. You will see our version of chilling out in the last few reports!

I really appreciate the comments!
 

Ian Sutton

1000+ Posts
Nice. Looks a little pale (nebbiolo can drop its colour, more than other grapes), but definitely more red than brown! Just the most wonderful gift.
 

BEERMAN

10+ Posts
Northern Italy 2022, (September 3-14)



The sun did rise, at its own pace! Being nestled down on the water with such steep mountains around us the sunrise colors would start across the lake. Reminded me of being in Monument Valley Utah during a sunset, I set up my tripod facing west, I noticed other photographers facing the monuments to the east....that is where the show was! Our unobstructed lake views included Laglio to the south, Brienno due west and Argogno to the north. The owner supplied coffee/tea and we enjoyed this while watching the light work its way down the mountain until it hit the distant shore.


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We discussed our options for the day, we decided to brave the roads and see what all the hype is about with Bellagio. Villa Lombardi is managed by the Albergo Aurora one town away in Lezzeno, they asked that we stop in for some minor paperwork. The manager said we could use their services during our stay, awesome! I don't know what the rooms look like but it's a pretty cool spot with nice amenities including boat rental.


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Bellagio was a short 15 minute drive from Lezzeno. We didn't panic park and slowly drove through town, it was about 9:00. We realized the first parking area was the most convenient so we made a scenic loop around and found ample parking. The parking kios was a little confusing? with the help of a nice woman we had our 3 hour ticket displayed on our dash board. Bellagio is beautiful!


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We arrived hungry and quickly found a comfortable table under a canopy of trees near the ferry dock. Over breakfast we were unsure of what we wanted to accomplish? maybe grab a ferry to visit Menaggio and Verenna? Lots of people in line, how about just walk the town for now!


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It's off season, but there were more people here than we had seen all week, a lot of English being spoken loudly here... like "HARRY, HARRY WE'RE OVER HERE!!" Simmer down lady he knows where you are. People were lined up at the 2 ferry docks and plenty of people taking selfies everywhere, so were we! The shops are very nice here, prices from reasonable to outrageous. The ladies were enjoying the shops, there's something for everyone and even I bought a new shirt! Gifts were also bought for loved ones back home. The ladies bought some small watercolors from a local artist with scenes from Lake Como, cool. We found a nice enoteca with nice owners and good prices, ok one more bottle!

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We walked the whole town, quite nice. We found an upscale convenience shop with an assortment of everything you can think of, we bought packaged porcini risotto and truffle chips just to have on hand. From the small town center at the top we walked down the backside away from the crowds to the water's edge. If you haven't been here the lake is shaped like an upside down Y and Bellagio is on the center point with amazing views of the mountains. There is a nice restaurant with a great view on the point, but the parking pass was soon to expire so we decided to head back to Albergo Aurora for lunch.


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We highly recommend the outdoor restaurant! The service, views and food were outstanding. I had the best silky smooth lasagna, favorite pasta of the trip. After lunch we walked down to the rental stand and secured a boat for the next morning. "There's lots of wine at the villa"!



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Safely in our parking space we moseyed down to Villa Lombardi. We put a bottle of chilled Langhe Chardonnay in my dry bag with towels and headed down the steps to Piazza Vecchia, lovely spot. Oops, forgot wine glasses....no worries we have no manners! Our apologies to the young couple from England for not being able to pass the bottle ha!

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I did go back up for glasses and to make a light snack. On my way out of the kitchen I see my wife brought up the woman from England, she was very nice and said they were on a short 4 day holiday and was happy that we had a restroom! She was curious about the villa so my wife gave her a quick tour, but not without leaving with some ripe Guarene peaches! The couple sadly declined the wine offer because they were on a scooter, smart move! Back to swimming and jumping!


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With only one convenient place to eat I walked up to Tres Rose to guarantee a reservation. Our daughter is a mosquito magnet and had a couple welts on her so I stopped at the farmacia to get spray for later, I never saw a mosquito? I like that farmacia's are around every corner in Italy. When I returned I found the ladies sunbathing on the main tier, a bottle of Nebbiolo was breathing for me!

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After a delightful afternoon of chillax'in in the sun we decided to walk to what Nesso is best known for, Orrido Di Nesso. Even with the ongoing draught the gorge is constantly supplying water via a beautiful waterfall. We arrive on the road at the top of the gorge and began our descent down the steep and irregular cobble stone walkway. Lots of steps! It's amazing to think about the local life having to navigate these stairs daily, I mean you get to your villa and say oops I forgot the eggs in the car!. We were surrounded by tall ancient buildings as we zigzagged all the way to the bottom. We were shocked that we were the only people around. We found our way to the Roman built Civera Bridge, amazing arched bridge that is popular to jump from. We figured the lake level is down several feet and well....we have a pier to jump off! We noticed an airbnb sign right next to the bridge, very cool, but consider those steps first!! The sun was dropping and we headed back to the villa via a lower trail. At first we didn't know if it would come to a dead end, but after a short hike we exited the trail not far from the villa, very cool.


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We got cleaned up for another late dinner around 8:30. At home we eat around 6pm, but later seems right over there. The temperature swing is pretty substantial on the lake, nights around 60 degrees, long sleeves required! Tres Rose provided good food, service and views again, another highly recommend. Around 10pm we maintained a slow pace to the villa. We were exhausted, but what an amazing day! Went to bed fairly early with thoughts of what we'd experience tomorrow from a boat! Ciao


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Ian Sutton

1000+ Posts
Yes, it's a rare trip where we don't end up at a farmacia :woot::D. In terms of treatment of mozzie bites, the one we got in Verona was exceptionally good.

I nodded my head at the reference to English speaking tourists shouting. I like embedding in the culture when there, so the thought of shouting out in English would feel uncomfortable to me - like I'm there in body, but not in mind. An odd thing to explain.
 

BEERMAN

10+ Posts
On this day I think it was just sensory overload from not being around a lot of people for a week! But it's funny how I can remember moments when the "Ugly American" stereotype has shown up. Once near the Eiffel Tower at a food festival I learned more about how disgruntle flight attendants can be hahaha. One kept looking over mortified at her coworkers behavior, probably knew I was an American by my baseball cap!! It is simply a bad stereotype that doesn't happen a lot, but when it does..... Similar to the stereotype of how the French hate us, only once have I received that attitude, remember it well.
 

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