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In autumnal or vernal months of transition like November or March it’s too early (or late) for the mountains, but also for the sea. And then you say? Well obvious, the campaign. Here, we have discovered that of Piedmont and we can no longer do without it.
It all started in mid-October of this year while I was looking for a place to go to taste dishes based on white truffle together with a group of friends to change compared to the popular, but also now very crowded area of the Langhe and try something new.
The first step, on the advice of friends and relatives, was to look in the area of the Gavi Hills, really beautiful, but often overcrowded, especially on weekends and for large groups. The second step was to inform me about the prices of truffles: this year, due to adverse weather conditions for its formation and maturation, the white truffle has arrived to cost 400 euros per hectogram.
So I had to find an alternative. At the end of the research, I found and tried two fascinating places : a restaurant suitable for a nice group meal and a spa enjoyable in couple or with friends.
TASTING IN THE MIDDLE OF VINEYARDS – AGRITURISMO ALBACHIARA
In the middle of the countryside of Carpeneto, a village not far from Ovada, in the province of Alessandria, is located, nestled in the hills, an old farmhouse now used as an agritourism. In summer you can eat in a charming veranda in the garden of the property while in the colder months in the elegant halls, where you feel welcome guests of a country chic home. A fireplace, a corner that recalls a vintage kitchen, a sofa, a window overlooking the hills. Just a few but suggestive details to make people understand how picturesque this location is.
In addition to offering personalized services such as the driver for excursions or a special pet therapy with horses, the real gem of this place are the menus, not only for the excellent quality/price ratio. The farm is managed by a family from Puglia: that’s why in the culinary proposals never miss the Piedmontese classics (ravioli del plin and filet of fassona) flanked by proposals from Puglia (stracciatella and cartellate) revisited by the chef. And if, after making a food binge you want to stop to sleep, the structure also has rooms.
The surroundings are rich in history. In addition to the castle of the neighboring center of Carpeneto, nearby we find other castles in Gavi, Castelletto D’orba, Montaldeo, Rocca Grimalda, Tassarolo, Cremolino, Molare, Tagliolo. If you are lucky in Ovada you can find some outdoor events.
LAZE IN AN ANCIENT MONASTIC HOUSE– RELAIS SANT’UFFIZIO
The first proposal is definitely indicated for those who never tire of discovering and tasting new dishes but there are also times when it’s a good idea to take a break from the hectic daily routine and switch off. To do it, what could be better than a spa surrounded by greenery and by the Alps? In Cioccaro, in the heart of Monferrato, between Asti and Casale, there is an ancient monastery that has recently been renovated. Of the old building remain the external walls and many details of the interior as the doors of iron and wood deliberately crooked as not positioned with modern bubbles. The remaining spaces and in particular the rooms in the wing of the stables and the spa are modern and avant-garde.
The spa offers many services: a swimming pool (indoor and outdoor) overlooking the vineyards equipped with variations of water jets of all kinds as well as hydromassage deckchairs, a Mediterranean bath, a Turkish bath and a glazed sauna with a view of the outside, an iced waterfall, an aromatic breeze shower, a relaxation area and massages. And to conclude a selection of teas to envy the Queen of England.
Also the restaurant is remarkable: small but well-kept and very chic with local proposals revisited in a modern way, especially as regards the presentation. The breakfast offers a great variety of homemade cakes and pies and the veranda in which it is served allows you to enjoy a beautiful view.
The property is in an excellent position for walking among the vineyards. Autumn or spring colors make the landscape even more evocative. Not far from the relais you reach the famous Marian sanctuary of Crea, made special by the fairytale trail in the woods with small chapels positioned along the way. Excellent Crea’s restaurant at the foot of the sanctuary.