Piemonte..preliminary travel question

Old Oct 7th, 2008, 04:51 AM
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Piemonte..preliminary travel question

Having just returned from a terrific 10-day trip to northern Italy, I am already dreaming about my next visit. (I will write a short trip report soon).

Our trip from Liguria to Lake Como took us through the Val Curone, in the SW corner of Piemonte, and this brief peek inspired me to think about an all-Piedmont trip next year.

I originally thought of visiting in January, but have almost abandoned that idea because it seems that many places (B&Bs, restaurants) are closed in that month.

Question: What would be the earliest that I could at least hope for optimal weather conditions in the region? When is everything back in full swing after the winter? March?

Thanks!



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Old Oct 7th, 2008, 05:08 AM
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I personally would not go until May to get the spring flowers, but why not contact Tim at Villa Sampaguita for a better informed opinion.
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Old Oct 7th, 2008, 05:16 AM
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Thank you. Bob. As much as I like flowers, food and wine and my top priority!! Hoping to go a bit earlier than May..not sure if I can hold out that long! But if there is a reason NOT to go before then, I am "all ears," so to speak!!

We would have 7 days, by the way.
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Old Oct 7th, 2008, 08:10 AM
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Here is the reason I would not go that early---too cold for me.
http://www.weatherbase.com/weather/w...=161161&refer=
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Old Oct 7th, 2008, 08:59 AM
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Myself I would suggest that late March or April are the earliest times to come to Piedmont if you want reasonable weather. April obviously is better, but March can be warm, all depending on the year, and March is the time when the local town festivals start.
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Old Oct 7th, 2008, 11:50 AM
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Tim I was hoping you would see this. Easter is April 12, so I might plan a trip in the weeks right before that...

are there any festivals in late March/early April that you think would be worth planning around?

Honestly I am not sure what took me so long to work up an appetite (!) to visit this area...but now that I am "hungry," I am very eager....
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Old Oct 8th, 2008, 09:59 AM
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eks, next years calendar not yet published, the links on the other thread should be updated around February. However in late March and eraly April there are usually spring festivals every weekend somewhere in the area, most of them faeturing of course tastings of local food specialities and wine. But no "big" events that I know of.
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Old Oct 8th, 2008, 10:13 AM
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Just to chime in, though you already know it, the Piemonte area is wonderful. Last fall, we spent some time there, starting with a business meeting in Milan, then 4 nights days in the more southern area of the Piemonte, in the tiny town of Monforte d'Alba (near La Morra), one of the 12 Barolo villages, before moving on to Turin.

As we visited in October, and haven't been back - yet - I can't help on the weather in the area in the Spring. But I'm happy to pass on all of our food and wine experiences!

Enjoy!
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Old Oct 8th, 2008, 11:42 AM
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Thanks to both of you! I am pretty well convinced! I will do some reading and come back with more questions..
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Old Oct 8th, 2008, 12:30 PM
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ekscrunchy,

If you plan to eat the classics of Piemonte, I think you are well advised to go in cooler weather, since the classic dishes are rich and hearty. And if you are big on truffles, obviously the time to do that is truffle season, which I think is December but others will tell you is November. (For me personally, I would rather go in high hazelnut season than truffle season, and I like truffles. it's just that the hazelnuts are fantastic.)

Others may correct me on this but I don't think Piemonte gets difficult snows until late December (with the usual caveats about anything can happen), and that's really only an issue if you plan a driving trip. If you are planning a train/bus based trip (not a bad idea if you like drinking Barolo), I suggest you reconsider January. Piemonte is a business place as much as it is a tourist place and I bet you can find places to stay.

The Ligurian coast gets nice weather almost all year round, so you can also think about breaking up some of your all-Piemonte in Autumn/Winter tour with some days in Imperia or even Menton (France). I think a car is a must unless you plan to stay in Torino the entire time (which I could easily do personally).

Finally, I spent a chunk of time in Torino in April and it was blustery. Perhaps close to what you might get on the east coast of the US in April. But it was fine for walking around. I hope you will spend a nice amount of time in Torino. You might enjoy going here:

http://www.museodellafrutta.it/


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Old Oct 8th, 2008, 01:00 PM
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Thanks, Zeppole. I would only have one week and would be able to rent a car...my regular travel partner cannot go in October/November so I may have to forego the truffles this time. But then, January is still an option. Oh dear, more difficult decisions!!

I was thinking about two days in Torino and the rest in the Piemonte countryside. The trip would be from Saturday to Sunday, by the way.

I will do some reading and return with more questions..
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Old Oct 8th, 2008, 02:01 PM
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Well, if you are thinking of driving around the Piemonte countryside, you do need to consider road conditions. If you plan on visiting hilltowns, I would want to know if there are months that get ice and snow on the very steep and winding roads. Other lower elevations that connect the main towns have very modern wide roads, which I'm sure get quickly ploughed, and although fog is always a hazard, that's about it.

You might consider another night in Torino -- the food there is really fabulous and it's a fun town with eclectic attractions.

Piemonte is a small place with generally good roads -- and not an overabundance of sightseeing "must sees" to distract you from the eating. I think a compact week would be enjoyable almost anytime of year -- but like I said, about the only time of year I like eating like the Piemontese is when it's cold.
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Old Oct 8th, 2008, 02:07 PM
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PS: Actually, I shouldn't say Piemonte is "small" because, as Italian regions go, it is one of the heftier ones in terms of square miles. But a gastronomy tour of Piemonte doesn't have to be sprawling.
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Old Oct 17th, 2008, 05:19 AM
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Just an update: We have all but shelved the idea of traveling to Piemonte in January due to possible bad weather and closings.

Now that my time-frame has shifted to early spring (just before or just after, Easter) I am thinking about a base. I thought we could fly into Turin or Milan.

Question: Museums and shops in Turin appear to be closed on Mondays. Is this true? (Our trip will be Saturday to Sunday, with arrival on Sunday morning. I thought of 2 nights in Turin, Sunday and Monday, but if we will face many closings, I may have to shift Turin to the end of the trip. This makes the flights slightly more problematic but not impossible)



This leaves 5 nights in the countryside. Do you all think it makes sense to have two bases? I have done some reading but am still finding it difficult to discern the differences between the Langhe, Monferrato, etc.


Our usual m.o. is to do some light driving around, hopefully some nice walks, town visits, markets,with emphasis on finding good food in non-fancy settings (no Michelin-starred places need apply!) We will visit a couple of wineries but wine is not a primary reason for visiting.

I am finding many well-regarded B&Bs (many more than in any other region of Italy--the reviews are quite astounding!) but am concerned about the rural location of many of many of these. My partner does not like to drive at night, especially after sampling wine. So I would like to be within walking distance, or a very short drive, of good restaurants. This narrows down the field a bit.

So: Help with selecting a base in Piedmont, please!
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Old Oct 17th, 2008, 07:07 AM
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I would stay at either Villa Sampaguita near Asti or Villa Favorita near Alba as your base. See Torino as a day trip from there.
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Old Oct 17th, 2008, 07:28 AM
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We stayed at a fantastic B&B (see my review on tripadvisor) in Monforte d'Alba, Le Case della Saracca, http://www.saracca.com/Default-en.htm. The website is accurate, but the reality is even better. And Guilio, the owner, is really helpful. I received an email from him several weeks ago, which said that his enoteca is now open.

The B&B is on the edge of the village of Monforte, and there are several good restaurants within walking distance (we ate at il Giardino del Felicin one night). Trattoria della Posta is about 3 km down the road, and while it does have a Michelin star, wasn't too fancy and was better-priced than Felicin. There's also a very welcoming enoteca in town, with great complimentary antipasti, Barolo Bar, just off the main square. (Our third night there, we did drive further to dinner.)

This location worked for us because most of our dinners were walking distance or close by (I have the same concern you do about driving in the dark, and drinking, or not, during dinner). Also, our group of 4 was VERY interested in wine, particularly Barolo, so the Barolo area worked better for us. We visited two vineyards, which were wonderful. My favorite was Podere Ruggieri Corsini, run primarily by Loradona Corsini. It's a very small producer, and it was like visiting her house; she was great!

If you want to stay close to where you eat, then maybe two bases would work out better for you. The distances aren't huge, and the drives are so beautiful, but it will expand your dining choices. You could stay part of the time further south, and part further north.

We were going to be in Turin on a Monday, and in researching beforehand, found that yes, many places were closed that day.
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Old Oct 17th, 2008, 10:04 AM
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Thanks to both of you! The delle Saracca looks gorgeous. I simply cannot believe the wealth of hotels and B&Bs in this area and the amazing reviews they each receive! there are so many that I would like to experience. Maybe the idea of two bases is the best option..

BobNavigator: Would you please expand on why you think Turin ought to be a day trip and not an overnight?
Also, can you tell me a bit more about La Favorita, since that looks to be within walking distance of Alba.
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Old Oct 17th, 2008, 03:59 PM
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My comment on Torino as a day trip is just to emphasize the fact that it is very doable from those Piemonte locations--the train from Asti is only about :45. I hate to change hotels. If you have the time then go for it. All I know of Villa Fovorita is from their web site and a clients comments. I have stayed at Villa Sampaguita and can surely recommend it. Tim and Rina are two very good reasons why.
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Old Oct 18th, 2008, 03:40 AM
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Thank you, Bob: Villa Sampaguita does sound wonderful and Tim is most helpful here. My concern is the location; I think I would rather be closer to Alba and also able to walk to restaurants at night.

I have never researched any European trip before this where there appear to be so many inviting hotels and B&Bs--each with fantastic reviews.

Villa Favorita, however, got a less-than-good review in this report but it is on my list..


http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34842057
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Old Oct 18th, 2008, 08:30 AM
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Here's a link to some reviews of Villa La Favorita:

http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/hotels...avorita&s=alba

Note that the Villa appears to be (report #1660) a 3 minute drive or 20 minute walk to the historic center of Alba. But, I think that is downhill. If so, you would obviously need to add some time for the return walk. Why don't you email Roberta to be sure?
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