We first came across the region of Piedmont (Piemonte) after reading an article in the London Evening Standard. The journalist who lived and worked in the region extolled the virtues of the region, underlining the abundance of delicious food and wine, and the proximity to the mountains and the sea. It ticked all our boxes. We had never visited the region before, but on our first trip we met the writer of the article who took us to visit Casa Parrocchia. It was love at first sight. There was less than 4months between our first viewing and taking possession of the keys. From that day on the area continues to offer all those things that we were promised.
The famous Langhe Wine growing region of Piemonte lies to the south of its capital Alba. It is characterized by rolling hills, vineyards and winding roads, delivering breath taking scenery around every corner.
Guests can come here and follow the “wine trail” through the typical areas of three well know grape varieties, Dolcetto, Barbera and Nebbiolo.
Barolo, made with the Nebbiolo grape, is known throughout the world for it’s wine. It is 15km from Alba and about 35mins from Sale San Giovanni. Whilst a beautiful wine, do stop in other areas nearby where you will find excellent wines at a much more affordable price.
You can buy wine for every occasion and every pocket, but don't look too hard for white wine. There are some, but this is mainly a red wine region which pairs well with the food.
The high season for all food lovers is the late autumn. When the mushroom and truffle harvest begins, the restaurants offer a wide range of exquisite local Piemonte products.
Planning a meal out in this region requires some preparation as many traditional Osteria’s have a fixed menu, no choices, including up to six antipasti, two pasta, followed by a meat course and dolce. Often these menus include wine and are very well priced. We have many favourites, and are happy to recommend.
The Langa is also home to truffle festivals held in Alba and Ceva (the nearest town of any size to Sale San Giovanni) during October. Each year for about a six weeks Alba is transformed and becomes the world market for truffles, Piazza Bianca hosts up to forty different stands all trading in this sought after commodity. Also not to be missed, the DOP cheeses of Raschera and Tuma from Murazzano and Bra.
The climate is not quite Mediterranean. The hills provide a welcome cool environment compared to the hotter valleys and towns. Go towards the coast a few miles and you leave Piemonte and arrive in Liguria, the province that runs adjacent to the Mediterranean.
However, any time of the year is beautiful, with blue skies and views of the Alps. Spring has the benefit of spring flowers in the meadows nearby, and sometimes the odd sprinkling of snow. Lavender appears just after spring and its presence and smell is prevalent around the village.
Autumn provides the backdrop to the changing colours of the various trees and vines a little further away. The winter often is blessed with snow and blue skies right up to the village, although the local commune clears roads very quickly.
If you are coming from the UK -
We drive in the summer but it is a two day drive. Any other time we fly.
LDN Luton - Nice. (Easy Jet).
LDN Gatwick -Turin or Genoa (British Airways).
LDN Stansted - Turin or Genoa. (Ryanair).
The house is roughly the same distance from Turin and Genoa, about 1 hour 20 minutes and Nice about 2 hours 15 minutes.
See our Instagram page for a few pictures @italycasa. If you want further information please just call or email.
· Walking. There are great walks through the hills from our house and a few miles away, through vineyards. There are also guide led walks for which further information can be provided. Forty minutes away are the Alps, if you need more of a challenging ramble.
· Skiing. In the winter we have three resorts within a 45min drive, almost exclusively frequented by Italians. Prato Nevoso is the largest of the three and lovely if you want to escape the crowds of the more well known European resorts. We are quite far south, so the snow is not as predictable as the more northern resorts. We go when the sun shines!
· Swimming. The Mediterranean is 45 minutes drive away. We normally go to the small mediaeval town of Noli on the coast. Here the sea's surface is silky smooth, so not a spot for the surfers but a dream to swim in. Be sure to try some spaghetti alle vongole and take home some local lemons. There is an outside pool in the local town in Ceva, and the house has a paddling pool for kids or adults in need of a cool down.
· Cycling. It is a passion of the Italians. The hills are fantastic for cycling, but require a certain level of fitness. There are two road bikes in the house which can be used, but please look after them, and yourself. There are steep descents, we have a few tracks marked, and one brave guest recently cycled down to the sea.