Today we visited Cherasco, the self-proclaimed snail capital of Italy and also a big chocolate/hazelnut town. They say they were the first to add hazelnuts to chocolate, and okay – we will believe it.
The small town is charming and of course like the entire Piedmont area, very old. Thursday turns out to be the market day in Cherasco, so everyone was out and about. We checked out their ancient and beautiful church, strolled around the town, and had a delicious lunch. I had to have lumache (snails) and was glad I did.
We drove to Alba on some back roads – the long way – to take in the perfect views in this part of Italy.
photos: snails for lunch❤
the ornate ceiling insiijs the church in town; market day beyond the arch
We drove to Saluzzo today, a medieval city that is about an hour from where we are staying. The fog was very thick when we started, but as we drove up in the mountains a bit it became much clearer.
We got to Saluzzo on their big market day and many roads were closed off in the center of the city. We drove around for a while before finding parking on a side street – it seemed that everyone in Saluzzo was at the market.
We checked out what they were selling: meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, and clothing, shoes, household items. The market was similar to the one in Alba on Saturday, but still fun to walk around.
We had wanted to tour La Castiglia, a castle there, but it was not open today. The ancient church was closed for a funeral. No matter – it was still quite a beautiful town to walk around. We bought some tomatoes and a couple kiwis.
We had lunch at a busy restaurant with a fantastic buffet. Again, it seemed as though everyone in town was there. We headed back to Alba after buying a few bakery treats at a forno – a bakery – we walked past as we went back to our car.
photos: the ancient city; at the market; decorated streets for a festival this weekend
We visited Barbaresco today, a small city with beautiful – but foggy today – panoramic views and plenty of vineyards. They make wonderful wine there, but it’s tough to find an espresso in town. We never did.
We enjoyed the beauty of the surroundings and the quiet solitude we felt there. Tourist season is over for sure – we may have seen three other people during our time in the center of town.
We drove to Neive, a neighboring city that’s just a little bigger than Barbaresco. We easily found coffee there and we checked out the area. A school seemed to be for students all the way to high school, and kids dashed out on the streets at lunch time.
We had lunch in one of the two restaurants in town before heading back to Alba.
photos: autumn in Neive; Barbaresco view; Tiramisu dessert!
We drove from Alba to Barolo this morning, a quick half hour trip to a very charming wine city in the Piedmont area of Italy.
There was a fantastic wine museum there with information about the history of Italian wines of the area and some exhibits of how wine has been made through the years and ways it is used. There were just a small group of visitors there, so it was a good day to go.
We explored Barolo on foot and found that the city itself is small. The vineyards around the city center are beautiful – we saw them as we drove around after lunch at a small restaurant we found.
We drove back to where we are staying, and Alba seems very quiet today after their wild tartufo festival yesterday.
Today was the International White Truffle (or as they say here: Tartufo Bianco) Festival in Alba. We spent a good part of the morning and early afternoon there until the crowds and then rain became too much.
The festival had all kinds of food – boar roasting on a spit, chicken, ribs, kebabs – and plenty of other selections. It was too early for any of that, so we checked out the games set up around the city center. All of them looked as though they had been used for decades – worn, but still good-looking Skittles tables, bows and arrows, a dart board, ring toss to win bottles of wine, and many other games that seemed well attended with prizes, mostly wine, handed out to winners. It was fun to watch.
We made our way to the truffle tent, where dozens of vendors were selling their white and black truffles. It takes forever to make a sale since they add the cost each truffle individually and they have to wrap them carefully. There is an official judging area for those who are skeptical about the value of what they bought. So there were lines of people everywhere and the whole place was very busy.
(We bought just one truffle with the plan to slice it up – there’s a special truffle slicer in the kitchen drawer here – and mix it into scrambled eggs, as suggested by our host.)
The tent, although huge, became so filled with people that it was impossible to walk, so we left. We continued to walk around the streets for a while but there were people and umbrellas everywhere.
Eventually we got out of the rain and came back to enjoy the tartufo scrambled eggs. They were very good.
photos: white truffles for sale
below: a game of Skittles. I watched for a while but didn’t see anyone win.
wild boar cooking
Saturdays are the huge market day here, and I walked over early to see what it was all about. I was in search of fruit and vegetables, but there were streets full of everything else: men’s and women’s clothes, shoes, purses, and all sorts of household goods. The tables were chock-full of merchandise. I walked around for about an hour, then went back to where we are staying so the two of us could check things out.
We took a different route and eventually came upon the produce I was looking for.
After coffee, we dropped our bags back at our apartment and headed toward our tour of underground Alba. By now – 10:30- the streets were full of people, children, strollers, and dogs, and it took some time to get around.
We eventually found the meeting place. We knew the tour would be in Italian, but they gave us the script typed in English, which was nice and helpful.
It was interesting to see what archaeologists uncovered under the streets of the city, some under a church, a bank, and the police station.
The tour lasted about two hours and we had lunch at our apartment then walked around some more, this time in a direction we had not checked out before. We eventually headed back to make dinner.
photos: fruits and vegetables at the market today
the busy market
We continued to explore Alba on foot today and made plans to take a tour of the old underground city tomorrow. It should be interesting.
We had a lunch in an underground restaurant today, coincidentally. The storefront is on street level but once through the door, there are steps down.
The sand sculpture artist from yesterday was back today making an identical dog. I went for a run and passed his spot at 8am. He wasn’t there yet. An hour later when we walked by, he already had most of the dog sculpted. So it seems to be a sand art scam and he will do great with it this weekend, I’m sure.
photos: early morning in the city
pigeon on the back terrace
pigeon on the lunch menu