Friday, September 23, 2016

Road Trip, Italian Style

On Monday Dr. C. and I arrived in the Piedmont area of Northern Italy; having long been enamored with Barolo, Barbaresco and Barbera wines, we wanted to see where they came from and we weren't disappointed.
Our family in Spello arranged for us to have their cousin Lucia DeMaria as a tour guide.  Lucia was a professor of art and history at the university here, and so her knowledge is unparalleled, plus she is a lot of fun!  We were staying at the Arborina Relais near La Morra, where her daughter is the managing director.  The hotel is beautiful with large bedroom, sitting room and bathroom with either a private garden for sitting outside, or a balcony to sit and watch the grapes grow, because you are surrounded by them!
A garden in our back yard

Nebbiolo enjoying the sun

 We met Lucia in the city of Alba, home of the Ferrero family (the richest in Italy) and Nutella, that amazing concoction of milk chocolate, and ground hazelnuts.  After World War II, chocolate was expensive, and Papa Ferrero started experimenting with a little chocolate, milk ,and ground hazelnuts which grow well here in Alba.  The rest is history.  Famous for white truffles (the season started 2 days ago) porcini, and chocolate, as well as the wines, this is an area many travelers miss when they come to Italy, but the foods, wine and people are amazing.

 Alba is almost totally a pedestrian city, and on Mondays it's a bit quieter than the weekend.  They were getting ready for the Palio that is staged on donkeys, so there were banners for each neighborhood.

We made our way into a church, that looked kind of sad from the outside, but once inside we were stunned.

Lucia kept telling us that the people in the Piedmont believe that less is more; they don't show off their wealth, you have to look inside to see what's there.  This was so true everywhere we went; opening gates to beautiful palazzos, and strikingly beautiful churches.
Back in the car, we headed up the hill to a beautiful castle, that is still used today as a museum for wine production.  The views from the hill were amazing.

Once back at our hotel, we rested for a while and then headed out to Trattoria della Posta for dinner.  A beautiful old house, we were treated to a lovely dinner, and toddled on back to Arborina to rest up for our next day tasting Barolos.

Typical salad of the region, called insalata Russa or Russian salad, potatoes, may, peas, carrots and sometimes hardboiled egg

Onion stuffed with cheese and sausage


Veal with porcini mushrooms

Braised lamb with vegetables

lemon tart with fresh fruits
And we end our night on our patio, looking down on Barolo country.  Tomorrow we meet the Marquese di Barolo and watch grissini being made.  Ciao for now.

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