Posts Tagged ‘Italy’


Today’s postcard is of Vernazza, long before the heavy rain and floods devasted the town.
Monterosso was also affected. The images of mud rivers flowing through the streets where we have all walked, were unbelievable.
Our thoughts are with everyone as the clean up begins.

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With summer fast approaching in Australia, my thoughts go back to our summer in Sicily and in particular, Favignana, where this photo was taken.
Favignana is the largest of the Egadi Islands and an easy day trip from Trapani. I’d love to return for longer and explore the island and its hidden bays. One day!

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It’s that time of the year again!
White truffles are back and Alba is the place to be.
The annual Alba Truffle Fair starts tomorrow and will continue until the 13th November.

Every weekend during this time, thousands of people will visit the market place in Cortile della Maddalena, just off Alba’s main street, Via Vittorio Emanuele, where truffles of all shapes and sizes are on display and available for sale. The aroma is intoxicating!

Truffles at the Alba Truffle Fair

Local products from this area, known as the Langhe and the neighbouring Roero district are also on display. Remember that this is the home of slow food movement and the local produce is superb. Look for cheese from Castelmagno, tasty salamis, local hazelnuts, tajarin pasta and of course, the famous wines of the area.

The first Sunday in October is also the day chosen for the Palio degli Asini, the famous race around Piazza Osvaldo Cagnasso between representatives of the nine boroughs of Alba. It is similar to Siena’s Palio except that instead of horses, donkeys are used.

There are many exhibitions and activities on during this time. The Alba Tourist Office is excellent and the staff are only too happy to help you with any information or you can check the fair’s website : www.fieradeltartufo.org



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“The Seige of Canelli is on the weekend you arrive” read the email from Chris at La Villa Hotel. It’s a lot of fun and worth seeing, he continued, so make sure you arrive in time for a visit.

Not being sure what the Seige of Canelli actually was, I did a quick search. The Seige of Canelli took place in 1613 when troops from Monferrato crossed the Belbo river and beseiged the town. The locals fought back and the enemy was forced to retreat. To show his gratitude, the Duke of Savoy exempted the people of Canelli from taxes for the next 30 years.

Every year, on the third weekend in June, Canelli celebrates by recreating life as it was then and reenacts the the battles that were fought during the seige. Canelli is changed back in time.

Everyone is dressed in the costume and the whole town becomes part of the 17th century again. The old town gate is re- erected, street signs are hidden, restaurants and taverns serve menus of the time and markets stalls help create the atmosphere.

The old gate

The old entrance gate

Even the money is changed back to the currency of the 17th century – the testone.

The exchange rate at the Seige of Canelli

The exchange rate


My tiletto allowing me entrance to the town

Part of the fun is to obtain a pass or tiletto which allows you to go into the town without being arrested and put into stocks!
In the stocks at the Seige of Canelli

Time in the stocks

Kids misbehaving at the Seige of Canelli

Kids misbehaving?

We arrived in time for the procession of the soldiers and villagers.

The parade at the Seige of Canelli

The parade

In costume at the Seige of Canelli

Everyone is in costume


Band members at the Seige of Canelli

Happy band members!

17th century musical instruments at the Seige of Canelli

17th century musical instruments were played

Flag throwers performed at the Seige of Canelli

Flag throwers performed

Seige of Canelli

Whilst the band marched on.....

The main square during the Seige of Canelli

The main square

Feeding the troops at the Seige of Canelli

Feeding the troops

Guns at rest at the Seige of Canelli

Guns at rest

We left before the night’s entertainment started but during the night and the next day, battles were staged, duels fought, the cavalry charged and the castle was bombarded. Fireworks marked the end of the festivities…..until next year!

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One of my favourite towns in Piedmont is Monforte d’Alba.
Every time we visit, I drive my husband mad by searching for properties for sale! I can just imagine living here in this beautiful town.

Whilst staying at La Villa in Mombaruzzo, we could not resist popping back on our way to lunch at Antica Corona Reale da Renzo in Cervere. Monforte is in a great position, not far from many of the hill top towns we love to visit. The countryside that surrounds it is beautiful- valleys covered in vines, church spires topping hill top towns whilst the mountains in the distance form a perfect backdrop.

Countryside around Monforte d'Alba

Vines surround Monforte

Across the rooftops of Monforte d'Alba

View across the rooftops of Monforte

We sat outside Caffe Enoteca Rocca in Piazza Umberto, the main square of Monforte, chatting to the locals. I’m sure this would be my morning ritual if I lived here!

Caffe' Enoteca Rocca in Monforte d'Alba

Caffe Enoteca Rocca

Across the piazza, you can see Ristorante La Collina and the ‘Madonna della Neve’ Church

'Madonna della Neve' Church with Ristorante Il Collina in the foreground

View across Piazza Umberto

To the left in Via Garibaldi, a new hotel has opened next to the Barola Bar , a great spot to taste the beautiful wines of the region

Via Garibaldi in Monforte d'Alba

Via Garibaldi

We wander up the steep, narrow streets behind the cafe. The village is as pretty as ever.

The colours of Monforte d'Alba

The colours of Monforte d'Alba

Entrance to Azienda Agricola Alessandro e Gian Fantino's Cantina in Monforte

Azienda Agricola Alessandro e Gian Fantino

Entrance to Osteria La Salita in Monforte d'Alba

Pretty entrance to Osteria La Salita

Painted wall at Osteria dei Catari in Monforte d'Alba

Painted wall at Osteria dei Catari

Keep walking up the hill as the road lead to the historical, upper part of the town.


The view from here is spectacular

View from the top of Monforte d'Alba

View from the top of Monforte

The older part of Monforte d'Alba

Beautiful houses in the older part of the village

At the top of the hill is the Bell Tower, the only remaining part of the Santa Maria Church and the St Elisabetta Oratory.

Bell Tower in Monforte d'Alba

What is behind the wall?

Behind the wall is this small open space with perfect acoustics which is used as an auditorium. Horszowski Auditorium is filled with music in July when Monforte holds it’s well known jazz festival.

Monforte d'Alba's outdoor auditorium

Imagine leading jazz bands playing here

Le Casa de Saracca in Monforte d'Alba

Entrance to Le Case della Saracca

This beautiful old building is home to Le Case della Saracca, a quirky little B&B of six rooms contrasting the old and the new, with a bar and restaurant. It is a perfect place to stay for the Jazz festival as it has its’ own entrance to the auditorium.

Further up the road is another fabulous place to stay. Villa Beccaris, with their beautiful rooms and stunning gardens and pool, it is a perfect retreat to return to after a day exploring.

Entrance to Villa Beccaris, Monforte d'Alba

Entrance to Villa Beccaris

Two years ago we were staying in Monforte in early October. One night, the weather changed dramatically for the worse but when we opened the windows in the morning, the view of the snow on the mountains was spectacular.

View of the snow on the mountains from Monforte d'Alba

View of the snow on the mountains from Monforte

Would you like to live here?



Villa Beccaris
Via Bava Beccaris,1
Monforte d’Alba
Tel: +39 0173 78158
Villa Beccaris

Le Case della Saracca
Via Cavour,5
Monforte d’Alba
Tel: +39 0173 789222
Le Case della Saracca

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It’s hard to believe that three months ago we were driving through the vineyards of Piedmont.
Everything was looking great for a wonderful vintage this year. The growing conditions were perfect and the vines were full of fruit. It’s harvest time in Piedmont soon. Only time will tell if this is to be a great year for the Barolo, Nebbiolo and Barberesco wines.






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Nine years ago, a girlfriend and I made a sudden decision to hop off the train in Asti instead of going on to Turin. After many phone calls, we finally found a room and a taxi driver to take us Locanda del Sant’Uffizio in Penango, north of Asti. A beautiful spot in the heart of the Monferrato!

We could only stay one night, so we arranged for the same taxi driver to take us to our next night’s accommodation at Villa Beccaris in Monforte d’Alba, about an hour south. Whilst we zig-zagged across the stunning countryside, he proceeded to tell us the best restaurants in the area that we should not miss.

What a lucky find. His list was amazing!
Over the next week we went from Monforte to Barola, La Morra, Cherasco, Bra and back again in search of the next amazing food experience.
This was the start of my love affair with Piemonte!

Top of his list at this time was Antica Corona Reale-da Renzo in Cervere. It is still on top having since received a second Michelin star. Renzo’s son, Gian Piero Vivalda has been running the restaurant for a while now but Renzo is always there for a chat.

This year, their new outdoor courtyard was unveiled – a perfect place for lunch.

Courtyard at Antico Corona Reale in Cervere, Piedmont

The new courtyard

Courtyard at Antico Corona Reale in Cervere, Piedmont

Another view of the courtyard

Courtyard at Antico Corona Reale in Cervere, Piedmont

Pefect setting for lunch

Lunch began!!

Omelette with red onion and flower of tiglio at Antica Corona Reale in

Omelette with red onion and flower of tiglio

I asked the waiter about the tiglio flower and he sweetly went off the the garden and picked one to show me.I’m not sure what it was in English but the leaf is shown decorating the omelette.
Porcini mushrooms at Antica Corona Reale in Cervere,

Porcini mushrooms and potato with mountain herbs

Piedmont is home of the slow food movement which promotes using locally grown produce. Each course on the menu mentioned where the produce came from. For our appetiser we shared the ‘Funghi porcini della Valle Pesio con patate di Entracque alle erbette di montagne’. Sounds far more appetising in italian but it is interesting that it is mentioned that the porcini came from the Pesio Valley and the potatoes from Entracque, both south of Cuneo at the base of the Maritime Alps.
Asparagus Tortelli at Antica Corona Reale in Cervere

Tortelli di Asparagi biologici di Satena all' olio extravergine di Lucinasco

 A very tasty dish of  tortelli of organic asparagus served with asparagus spears and asparagus julienne with extra virgin oil from Lucinasco.
The choice of wine was overwhelming, so the waiter suggested a glass of Rocche Costamagna Nebbiolo with our entrees.

I Gobbi della Tradizione Servitti al Tavaglio at Antica Corona Reale in Cervere

I Gobbi della Tradizione Servitti al Tavaglio

Gobbi are a variation of the local speciality, agnolotti filled with a mixture of different cooked meats and served in a serviette.The pasta was so thin you could see through it.
The main course of perfectly cooked veal with a breadcrumb crust and spring vegetables, was so tender and succulent.
With a glass of Barbera D’Alba Trevigne from Domenico Clerico, I was in heaven.
Scamone di Fassone Piemontese in Crosta di Pane a Cottura Rosea con Vedure di Primavera

Scamone di Fassone Piemontese in Crosta di Pane a Cottura Rosea con Vedure di Primavera

Now for dessert!!

Dessert wine at Antica Corona Reale in Cervere, Piedmont

Stunning desserts need a dessert wine!

Apricot dessert at Antica Corona Reale in Cervere,

Apricot dessert

Although not ordered, an apricot mousse with a layer of apricot puree, red current and finely chopped pistachio started the parade.

Tiramisu Moderne at Antica Corona Reale in Cervere, Piedmont

Tiramisu Moderne

 From Sicily to Piedmont, the search for the best tiramisu continued. Da Renzo’s was a modern interpretation of a traditional dish. A layer of biscuit was sandwiched between chocolate icecream and tiramisu icecream with custard cream sauce. It tasted as good as it looked!
My dessert was sensational!
Sentieri di Langhe Dessert at Antica Corona Reale in Cervere,

Sentieri di Langhe

 Sentieri di Langhe was described as a taste of the Langhe with six different desserts – a hazelnut cake, caramel icecream, pannacotta, a rich chocolate pudding, chocolate mousse and homemade hazelnut torrone. Great choice!
Piccolo Pasticceria at Antica Corona Reale in Cervere, Piedmont

Could we eat any more? Yes!!

A plate of piccolo pasticceria  finished another stunning meal!


Antico Corona Reale Ristorante
Via Fossano,131
Tel: +39 0172 474132
Antico Corona Reale Ristorante

Look out for the yellow building on the left hand side of the road just past the first traffic lights after the Cervere sign!!




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