Spring is a perfect time to make an escape to the Piemonte region of Italy and with forecasts for rain everywhere in Switzerland last weekend, when we saw sunshine and 70’s in Italy we decided it was a great plan for a weekend getaway! We booked a last minute stay at the lovely Antica Locanda San Pietro and it was the perfect choice for a low key, fun family weekend.
We arrived just in time for a gorgeous sunset and an apero of local wine plus a fantastic cheese tray with homemade focaccia bread. After this great start, we knew we were in for a good weekend ahead! The hotel is only two years old and consists of only six rooms which is a perfect size to really feel at home. Our room was perfect for a family with a spacious master and a separate room with a pull-out couch for the boys to share. The hotel has an outdoor pool that opens in May, a spa area, and a lovely garden where the staff were kind enough to let the boys and dog run around like it was their own.
When we first arrived we walked around the very tiny village which had the most beautiful view of the nearby town of Govone along with blossoming hazelnut trees.
I love this picture because it perfectly captures our joy in discovering and exploring new places!
The hotel has its own restaurant so to make things easy when I booked the hotel (that afternoon!), I requested to have dinner there. We had a slight miscommunication upon arrival and wound up with much more food than we had anticipated along with veal and rabbit although I had said I don’t eat meat and had thought that I ordered only pasta! So in case you go, just know that it is a set daily menu that consists of five courses so if you have any dietary restrictions (or don’t want quite so much food), just be sure to tell them in advance. The food that I did eat was very good though and they even did special menus for the kids.
The theme of the weekend was clearly lots of food because the next weekend we woke up to this for only us and one other couple!
So lovely and so filling that we had to go find a town to explore and walk it off! We were in the Piedmont this past fall and visited Alba so this time we went to Alba’s former fierce rival, Asti. We enjoyed walking the town, including the small square and the pedestrian-only shopping streets, and seeing the medieval towers-but I must say that if you have time for only one of these towns, I’d recommend Alba. It’s a bit more intimate and charming and has a nicer Saturday market.
Of course you can’t go to Italy without getting gelato and we were excited to find our favorite Italian gelato place, Grom, right in the center of town.
After a fun morning exploring Asti, we headed over to the charming little village of Moncalvo for a quick walk around.
For the afternoon our lovely host, Monica, booked us a wine tasting at the Ponchione winery in the nearby village of Govone. Going to a wine tasting in the US recently reminded me of how different wine tastings are in Europe versus there. Just like most everything else, Europeans take a more laid back, relaxed approach to wine tastings. Whereas in the US you can just show up at a winery, pay a fee, do a tasting, and be done in 15 minutes, in Europe most of the time you need to make an appointment for the wine tasting. The reason is so that the winery can prepare for you as it is a much longer, more drawn out affair. Depending on the size of the winery (with smaller ones spending even more time and giving you a very personal experience), you can expect snacks, a tour, explanation of the wines, chatting with the grower or staff member, and in our experience (especially with tastings in Italy) it’s normally never under an hour!
The tasting at Ponchione was unique because we met the winemaker at his tasting room and then we went up for a very fun tasting in a ciabót, a small hut in the middle of the vineyard where traditionally the growers tools would be stored. In this case, the ciabót has been renovated as a small tasting room on the top of a hill with 360 degree views of the hilly vineyards and even the Alps in the background. It was a gorgeous setting and I can only imagine how wonderful it would be on a sunny summer day with grapes hanging heavy on the vines.
At 25 Euros per person, it was one of the priciest tastings we have done, but the stunning and unique setting made it worth it…in addition to the feast that Maurizio had prepared for us including amazing focaccia bread that his wife had made, spinach fritters made by his mother, and local cheeses. It was incredibly family friendly as he had even brought cups and waters for the kids and was happy for them to dig in the dirt and play in the vineyards as we got down to the serious business of wine tasting. We loved the wines and came home with some that we are looking forward to enjoying this spring!
We had a wonderful day and topped it off with a dip in the hot tub before dinner (thankfully fish this time) and another lovely sunset.
On Sunday we woke up to a gorgeous day and we did not want to leave, but all good things must come to an end! After another big breakfast and some relaxing, it was time to head out.
Since our move to Geneva, Lukasz and I have acquired a taste for snails (shocking I know!) and I had read that the nearby town of Cherasco is Italy’s snail capital. It also looked like a very historic village so we decided to visit the town and have some lunch.
The town was very sleepy and picturesque and we had fun wandering the streets, finding views of the mountains on the edges of the town, and buying the traditional chocolates, baci di cherasco.
We ate at Osteria Lumaca, known for their snails, and it didn’t disappoint. Lukasz had the lumache prepared different ways and we decided we prefer the whole snails French style, dripping in garlic and butter…but I had the pasta with snail sauce and it was amazing. Even our little foodie tried it and gave it two thumbs up!
We had a fantastic last minute getaway to the Piedmont and cannot recommend this area highly enough. Less popular than Tuscany, but with the same beautiful, hilly scenery, wonderful wines, warm people, and slightly lower prices. What’s not to love?!