Tag Archives: daytrip

Gattinara, Piemonte

8 Mar

One of the things I love about the place I live is the fact that we’re so close to so many beautiful areas.  We can hop in the car and be in the centre of Milan in less than an hour (depending on traffic of course).  We can arrive at the Swiss border within 45 minutes and to the beautiful city of Lugano in a little over an hour.  The Mediterranean Sea is a beautiful relaxing drive of less than two hours as well.  It’s wonderful to be able to wake up on a Saturday morning, look  out the window and decide what kind of landscape we’re in the mood to visit that day.

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As I mentioned here  a few months ago, this year we’ve decided to explore and discover as many new and lovely places as we can in the region of Piemonte.  We are actually only minutes to the border of Lombardia and Piemonte (I do my grocery shopping there) and have actually seen very little of it over the 12 years that we’ve lived here.

Last Saturday morning we decided we wanted to do a nice little hike but weren’t in the mood to be in the car for very long.  We looked at a map and decided on the town of Gattinara which is a mere 30 minutes from our doorstep.

We all packed into the car and off we went to find some beautiful spot to take a stroll.  We arrived in the town and noticed there were signs that led up to a famous antique tower.  We followed the steep road up into the hills and vineyards and found just what we were looking for.

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We parked the car, visited around the tower for a few minutes then headed off on foot among the rolling hills covered in vineyards (which apparently are some of the best around).  Along one of the dirt roads we decided to follow a sign for the abandoned castle of San Lorenzo.  The weather was still a bit foggy (which it often is in Piemonte) and we slowly made our way up through the woods.

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The castle of San Lorenzo (XII-XIII) is in ruins but well kept and great fun for the kids to explore and climb around.  The sun broke through the clouds just in time for our picnic and we sat at a lovely old stone table in a little clearing in a wooded area.  The view we had on the abandoned castle was just perfect.

1-IMG_6749After lunch we strolled around the castle grounds and enjoyed the first sun we had seen in days.  In the middle of the ruins the kids found the ultimate climbing tree.  So while they climbed we sat back and enjoyed the views over the region and the Sesia River.

1-IMG_6735As usual, we had the place to ourselves.  I always find it amazing that you can find these gorgeous little deserted spots in the middle of nowhere.

1-IMG_6752Although it’s always a bit difficult to get the kids motivated to leave the house on week-end mornings they are always so happy when we are visiting these places.  They love the walks through the woods, vineyards, hills and towns and they adore hearing about the history behind all these places.

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Yet another great day out discovering Piemonte.

Moleto

4 Mar

This week-end we discovered an amazingly beautiful place that is only 1 hour and 15 minutes from our house.  Some good friends invited us to join them for a day of walks in the vineyards and lunch in the small antique town of Moleto (near Monferrato in Piemonte).  This area is referred to as the Tuscany of Piedmont due to it’s rolling hills, old farmhouses and wonderful landscapes.

After driving through fog as thick as pea soup for about an hour (on the autostrada) we made our way up the hill on narrow curvy roads.  As we approached the little borgo the sun broke through the haze and clouds and we enjoyed a day in the warm sun.

Moleto has a population of 18 and is in the process of being renovated and restored to it’s previous glory.  We visited some of the old houses and the stone floors and ceiling frescoes are absolutey stunning.  All of the houses have a maze of underground caves and grotte which were (and still are) used to age and store the wine produced in the area.

They have opened a great restaurant in Moleto which serves delicious local fare.  We lunched in their outdoor courtyard under a surprisingly hot sun for the 3rd of March (sun umbrellas were needed).  My mother, who is visiting from Canada, kept saying she felt like she was in the middle of a film set because everything was just so idealic.  The food, the weather, the surroundings – the perfect Italian dream image.

The kids loved running around exploring the area on their own.  The grownups loved the 3 hour lunch with delicious food and wine and great company.

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