Tag Archives: piedmont

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.

Vercelli

17 Jan

A few week-ends ago we decided to make a day trip to the Piemonte region here in Northern Italy.  We are currently living in Lombardia but are literally 5 minutes from the border to Piemonte.

Piemonte offers so many beautiful areas to visit: the famous vineyards of Barolo and Barbaresco (to name a few), the vast risotto fields, small medieval towns and villages with castles, monasteries and beautiful villas and famous cities such as Torino.

So we decided that this will be our year to really explore Piemonte and all it has to offer.  Luckily we can reach many beautiful spots within an hour or so by car so it’s really perfect for a week-end day-trip.  Last year we visited the gorgeous town of Moleto and we plan to return there for a lazy Sunday lunch and walk in the rolling fields.

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So for our first Saturday outing we decided to visit the small city of Vercelli.  Vercelli is one of the oldest urban sites in Northern Italy (founded around 600BC).  The town is full of historic buildings from all periods and styles.  Every time you turn a corner you stumble upon another amazing piece of architecture.

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My husband spent the day teaching the kids about different styles of architecture (Roman, Gothic, Liberty etc) and by the end of the day they could identify all the styles of the different buildings and churches.  Who would have thought little kids would find it so exciting to learn about antique architectural styles!  I love that.

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I fell in love with this house above.  How lovely would it be to have an upstairs hallway with those windows!

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After a morning of wandering aimlessly through the town (which was empty for some reason) we found a little restaurant that offered delicious local specialties.  We tried the Bagna Cauda (warm dip of garlic and anchovies served with fresh vegetables), a local cheese plate (something my daughter always orders),  Panissa (a risotto with beans and sausage) and a hearty bowl of Pasta e Fagioli (beans and pasta).

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We also browsed through the monthly Organic/Biological market in the main square. Lots of local honeys, jams, baked goods and vegetables on offer to buy.

1-IMG_5236All in all a lovely and sunny winter outing.  I hope there will be many more of these in the coming months.  Stay tuned!

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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