FROM VILLAGE TO VILLAGE
With this SELF DRIVE we will try to make you discover the Piedmontese villages. We will take you to the discovery of the Lakes district, passing through the Torinesi and Cuneo mountains, concluding with a delicious stop in the hills of Langhe and Monferrato.
THE ITINERARY CAN BE REDUCED, EXPANDED AND MODIFIED ACCORDING TO YOUR NEEDS
- 11 nights with breakfast (hotel and location variations are possible depending on actual availability during the season)
- Day 2 - Excursion to the Borromean Islands as per program
- Day 4 - Lake Orta excursion as scheduled (excluding ticket for the Island of San Giulio)
- Day 5 - Guided tour of Ricetto di Candelo
- Day 6 - Lunch (tasting menu - drinks not included)
- Day 7 - Dinner in the brewery (hamburger + fries + dessert + 1 beer)
- Day 8 - Truffle simulated search. The search is called simulated because the truffles are specially hidden before the walk. Since the research takes place in natural truffles (the place where truffles normally grow), nothing excludes that during the activity truffles may be found that are not hidden for the occasion, but which have matured naturally.
- Day 9 – Neive guided tour
- Day 9 - Visit and tasting in the cellar (1 wine included)
- Day 10 - Visit and tasting in the cellar (2 wines + cutting board)
- Day 11 - Lunch (tasting menu - drinks not included)
- Transportation - Rented car or rental with driver available. It is possible to rent a TESLA car!
- City taxes
- Boat ticket to San Giulio Island (10 EUR per person)
- Anything not expressly indicated under "Included”
DAY 1 - STRESA AND LAKE MAGGIORE
Arrival in Stresa in the day and free time for a walk. Stresa, queen of Lake Maggiore, is located in a magnificent panoramic position, under the green slopes of Mottarone. The numerous villas, parks, gardens, the flowery lakefront, the ever-changing spectacle of the Borromean islands, crowned by snow-capped mountains, make Stresa one of the most important lakeside resorts.
Accommodation at the MILAN SPERANZA AU LAC 4 * Hotel (hotel and location variations are possible depending on actual availability during the season)
DAY 2 – THE BORROMEAN ISLANDS
After breakfast departure to discover the Borromean Islands. Visiting these wonderful places of Lake Maggiore is today a gift that everyone can afford. Living the exclusive experiences designed on the needs of each customer is a luxury for true connoisseurs.
Starting from Piazza Marconi you will reach Isola Madre by motorboat. Described as the most voluptuous place seen on earth by Flaubert, Isola Madre is the largest and most exotic of Lake Maggiore. Rare botanical species from all over the world, animals with colorful plumage and lush vegetation make this island the perfect destination for lovers of nature and hidden beauty. Guided tour of the Botanical Garden and Palazzo Borromeo (duration about 1 hour).
Lunch at La Piratera restaurant (drinks not included).
In the early afternoon, by motorboat, you will reach Isola Bella. A vessel on the water: this is how Isola Bella appears seen from above, a rock that since 1650 has become a place of delights on Lake Maggiore. Palace and garden represent the quintessence of the Italian Baroque. The art collections and the richness of the interiors of the princely residence are reflected outside in the preciousness of the Baroque garden, where the Teatro Massimo and the ten flowered terraces triumph. Guided tour of the Borromeo Palace and free visit of the gardens and some time for shopping while walking in the Vicolo del Fornello. In the late afternoon, return by motorboat to Stresa (Piazza Marconi).
You will overnight at the MILAN SPERANZA AU LAC 4 * Hotel (hotel and location variations are possible depending on actual availability during the season)
DAY 3 – VOGOGNA AND ORTA SAN GIULIO
After breakfast in about 30 minutes by car you will reach Vogogna. Independent visit of this important fortified center nestled in the Ossola Valley, an integral part and seat of the Val Grande National Park.
In the central medieval square it is possible to visit the fourteenth-century Palazzo Pretorio which preserves the Celtic Mascherone inside; a little further on the church of Santa Marta dating back to the sixteenth century, the primitive place of prayer of the militiamen of the fortress. From the Visconti Castle, today the site of events and demonstrations, it is possible to see the remains of the fortress, a further bastion of the valley. Coming down from the castle, the parish church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus appears majestic and, next to it, the former church of Ss. Giacomo and Cristoforo, with its richly carved sixteenth-century portal. Also not to be missed is a tasting of the savory Ossola cheese accompanied with typical wines.
In the afternoon, after about 30 km, you will reach Lake Orta.
You will overnight at the HOTEL L’APPRODO in PETTENASCO located on the shores of the magical lake (variations of hotels and locations are possible depending on actual availability during the season).
DAY 4 – ORTA SAN GIULIO AND THE BIELLESE
After breakfast you will meet your guide who will accompany you to discover the magnificent Borgo. Orta San Giulio stands in a splendid position on the green peninsula of Sacro Monte, on the eastern shore of Lake Orta, facing the island of San Giulio. The picturesque village is crossed by narrow and winding streets, overlooked by ancient Baroque houses and palaces with arcaded courtyards and wrought iron balconies. On the central square is the Community building, with a large portico. The town is dominated by the Sacro Monte di Orta, about 400 meters of altitude, included by UNESCO in the list of its World Heritage Sites.
Small yet rich in historical evidence, the Island of San Giulio retains a mysterious and particular charm that makes it truly unique. You will reach it in a few minutes of navigation. In the center stands the imposing bulk of the Benedictine monastery "Mater Ecclesiae", where the cloistered nuns spend their day in prayer and in the long and complex restoration of precious fabrics.
Pilgrims have been coming here for centuries to visit the splendid Romanesque church of San Giulio, dedicated to the first evangelizer of Cusio. The saint's body rests in the crypt, built in the Baroque period, in a sumptuous silver and crystal case. Of particular value are the early medieval finds preserved in the adjacent local museum. Leaving the basilica, it is impossible not to walk along the circular path that surrounds the island, getting lost among the ancient houses of the canons transformed over the centuries into elegant private residences and surrounded by small, seductive flower gardens.
In the late afternoon, after an abundant hour on the road (about 80 km) you will reach the Biellese area.
You will overnight at IL RELAIS SANTO STEFANO in Sandigliano (hotel and location variations are possible depending on actual availability during the season).
DAY 5 - CANDELO
After breakfast with your car you will reach Candelo (about 6 km far) where you will meet the guide who will take you to discover the Ricetto di Candelo. Walking through its cobbled streets is like breathing history, it is like “going up and down” through the Middle Ages to discover moments linked to peasant culture, it is like getting lost in the magic of a unique place. The center of the town consists of a group of buildings of mostly fourteenth-century origin, fortified by a circle of herringbone pebbles, which served as agricultural storage and refuge for the population in case of danger. Pseudo-pentagonal in plan, with five road axes intersected by two orthogonal streets, it has corners protected by circular towers; access is through a tower door with a pointed arch. On the square in front of the entrance is the Palazzo del Principe, a sort of three-storey strong house with a keep, built at the end of the fifteenth century. Canestrelli, very thin, irregularly shaped sweets, typical of this area, also date back to medieval times.
In the afternoon, passing by Turin, you will reach Pinerolo where you will overnight at the HOTEL BARRAGE 4 * (hotel and location variations are possible depending on actual availability during the season)
DAY 6 – USSEAUX AND THE PINEROLESE
After breakfast with your car you will climb up to the 1,400 meters of Usseaux. A welcoming alpine village in the Alta Val Chisone, Usseaux is part of three natural parks and preserves elements of the typical Alpine architecture and the traditional "patouà" language, a variant of the Oc language.
Murals and sundials enrich the town and will guide you towards the characteristic Piazza del Sole. The peasant tradition lives on in the fountains, wash houses, mills and ovens; imposing, in the capital, the church of San Pietro; in the hamlet of Balboutet there is the church of San Bartolomeo, rebuilt in the mid-nineteenth century on the remains of an ancient church.
Not to be missed:
- a visit to the villages and mills;
- excursions in the mountains and on the Assietta road;
- tastings of the Violets cheese, the Plaisentif accompanied by local bread.
At lunch you cannot miss a stop in one of the typical restaurants where you can enjoy an excellent mountain menu.
In the afternoon you will reach Saluzzo (about 70 km away). Along the way we recommend a stop at the Staffarda Abbey, an impressive abbey complex founded in the 12th century in Romanesque style that includes the church, monastic buildings and nine farmhouses. Founded between 1122 and 1138 on the territory of the ancient Marquisate of Saluzzo, the Benedictine Cistercian Abbey reached in a few decades a considerable economic importance as a place of collection, processing and exchange of the products of the surrounding countryside, made fertile by the monks with extensive and complex remediation works. Of the abbey complex, the Church is particularly appreciated, with the Polyptych by Pascale Oddone and the sixteenth-century wooden group of the Crucifixion, the Cloister, the Refectory, with traces of a painting depicting "The Last Supper", the Chapter Room, the Guest House; the other buildings make up the so-called "concentric" of Staffarda, that is the village, which still retains the historic architectural structures functional to agricultural activity, such as the covered market on the square in front of the Abbey and the farmhouses.
Overnight at the ANTICO PODERE PROPANO (hotel and location variations are possible depending on actual availability during the season)
DAY 7 - OSTANA AND THE MARQUISATE OF SALUZZO
After breakfast, going up the Po Valley you will reach the areas where the head of the homonymous river is located. On your own you can visit Ostana, the smallest of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Ostana is a sort of enchanted world to be discovered. A small town of scattered hamlets, it enjoys a sunny and panoramic position on the Monviso group. Named for the first time in 1322 (when Manfredo IV di Saluzzo invested the Marquis Manfredino and Oddone del Carretto also in the fiefdom of Austane, to pay off a debt of 9 thousand Genoese lire), it is an alpine corner of Occitania that invites slow walks. The best way to find out is in fact walking through its villages, a tour that takes four hours and requires the use of snowshoes in winter.
In the afternoon you will return to Saluzzo, capital for over four centuries, from 1142 to 1548, of the marquisate to which it gave its name. Saluzzo is a city with a fascinating history. Among its scenic streets, palaces and churches preserve real artistic relics, produced in a long period in which in these lands the autumn of the Middle Ages was intertwined with the explosion of Renaissance art. A real cocktail of cultures in a place that for centuries has been an important crossroads of men, goods and ideas.
For dinner we have booked you a table at the pub of the Brewery della Granda. With a Piedmontese breed meat burger combined with one of their delicious craft beers you will end this fantastic day in the best possible way.
Overnight at the ANTICO PODERE PROPANO (hotel and location variations are possible depending on actual availability during the season)
DAY 8 – CHIANALE AND THE VARAITA VALLEY
After breakfast, another day another valley, to be visited completely independently in order to dedicate yourself to the activities you prefer. You will go up with your car to the border between Piedmont and France. A village of Occitan culture awaits you with a slate heart, with slate roofs, stones and houses with ancient beams. Sheltered in a very strategic position that keeps it safe from the dangers of avalanches, in Chianale you can breathe the magical scent of the Alps. The fairytale touch is given by the larches resting in the snow next to houses heated by fireplaces. The Provencal culture of the troubadours still lives in the area, there is the largest Cimbri forest in Europe. And there is the Chemin Royal which led all the way to France. No war in the village. The Catholic church and the Calvinist temple looked upon each other in peace.
Chianale is a fraction of the municipality of Pontechianale in the province of Cuneo. The town closes the Alta Val Varaita with its lake surrounded by woods and pine forests. Going up, you arrive at the beautiful village of Chianale, all in stone located at 1,800 meters high which is located on the ancient Chemin Royal, the salt road also went straight to France. Along a very steep climb (which can only be done in summer) you can reach the Colle dell’Agnello at 2,748 meters and from below you reach the Queyras region.
On your way back we recommend stopping by at:
- SAMPEYRE, a village famous for the Baìo, a traditional Occitan festival that takes place every five years,
- MELLE, a town famous for the production of typical cow cheeses (the Tumin del Mel) and a compulsory stop to taste the hay-flavored ice cream of the small "Fioca" laboratory,
- BROSSASCO one of the major production centers of Rustic Furniture,
- PIASCO seat of the famous Victor Salvi harp factory which houses in addition to the production workshops also a beautiful museum dedicated to this noble instrument.
At the end of the day you will reach Bra, the capital of cheese and slow food.
The overnight is provided at HOTEL CANTINE ASCHERI 4 * (hotel and location variations are possible depending on actual availability during the season).
DAY 9 - MONFORTE D'ALBA AND THE TRUFFLE
After breakfast early in the morning you will reach the truffle ground where Piercarlo and his Tabui (in Piedmontese this word indicates the truffle hunter's faithful dog) await you. Going through the woods in search of truffles, be it black or white, is undoubtedly one of the most exciting and intense experiences that the Langhe area can offer.
Then, along a scenic road that caresses the Alta Langa area, you will arrive in Monforte d'Alba which you can visit independently. Of Roman origin, Monforte is located in a privileged position on one of the most majestic hills of the Langhe. The village, clinging to sunny slopes, has a medieval layout, with narrow streets that rise towards the square of the Antica Chiesa, where the oratory of Sant’Agostino and the Scarampi palace are located, obtained from the structures of a medieval castle. The main square, shaped like an amphitheater, is a real open-air auditorium. In the late afternoon in about half an hour you will reach Neive.
The overnight stay is foreseen at the COZY SMALL HOTEL AL PALAZZO ROSSO (hotel and location variations are possible depending on the actual availability during the season).
DAY 10 – NEIVE AND THE LANGHE OF BARBARESCO
After breakfast, you will meet a representative of the Tourist Office who will accompany you to discover Neive. A suggestive walk through the alleys of one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Among baroque houses, churches and villas with splendid gardens we will climb up to the castle floor where you can enjoy, climbing the renovated Clock Tower, an unforgettable view of the UNESCO World Heritage areas of Langhe, Roero and Monferrato. A stop at the Museum of the Wild Woman, a tribute to the work of Romano Levi and his sister Lidia who for over sixty years, continuing the tradition of their ancestors, have produced a unique Grappa, embellished by the colorful poetic labels drawn by hand by Romano.
The walk will end with a visit to the historic cellars of the Neive Castle. The visit to the cellars begins in the ancient access, where the centuries-old wine press preserves the historical memory of the work done. This is followed by the entrance to the cellars carved into the rock, where the wines rest at a naturally controlled temperature and in large and small wooden barrels. These are important wines that come from an area appreciated for the production of a great red from Piedmont: Barbaresco. There will be tasting sessions, in the beautiful garden in front of the cellar or in the wine shop.
In the late afternoon, after about an hour drive, you will reach Monferrato.
Overnight at the LOCANDA MARTELLETTI in Cocconato (hotel and location variations are possible depending on actual availability during the season)
DAY 11 - COCCONATO AND THE MONFERRATO OF THE INFERNOT
After breakfast, time at leisure to discover the Borgo. Cocconato is a small but lively village that can boast one of the best preserved and restored historic centers in the Asti area. The town winds from the central and lively Piazza Cavour, animated by cafes, restaurants and shops selling typical products, from which you can go up towards the upper part of the town along via Roma, between ancient houses with balconies with wrought iron railings and carved wooden doors, up to the 15th century Palazzo Comunale, the most significant monument of the locality and a rare example of civil architecture in the Gothic style of Monferrato. The building, with arcades on the ground floor, follows the course of the road and has three floors above ground on the side towards the street and two on the side of the courtyard. Continuing along the cobbled streets climbing uphill, you arrive at the parish church, dedicated to Santa Maria della Consolazione, in a panoramic position over the town and the surrounding hills.
In the early afternoon, leaving the province of Asti to enter the province of Alessandria, in about forty minutes by car, you will reach Rosignano Monferrato. Upon reaching your destination, a visit to a historic winery with its characteristic infernot awaits you, followed by a tasting accompanied by a platter of local products.
Overnight at I CASTAGNONI SMART RESORT in Rosignano Monferrato (variations of hotels and locations are possible depending on actual availability during the season)
DAY 12 – CELLA MONTE
After breakfast, check out and autonomous visit of the Borgo di Cella Monte. Built in sandstone, a reminder of the sea of millions of years ago, this small Piedmontese village lies on the gentle slopes of Monferrato. Cella Monte is located in the province of Alessandria in that part of Piedmont famous all over the world for its excellent vineyards and devotion to wine production. Immersing yourself in its alleys, you may happen to observe shells inside the walls: they are not the work of man, but of nature. Millions of years ago there was the sea here and the Monferrato hills were its archipelagos. As the water withdrew, the sandstone remained, a stone with which the houses of its five hundred inhabitants were built.
The deeper you go into the walk, the more you realize you are walking through an open-air museum, which has remained exactly the same as when it was built: all around, the soft hills on which a group of houses occasionally sprouts, between the wonderful ups and downs of the vineyards that look like an impressionist painting. Lunch in a typical restaurant (drinks not included) and end of services.