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Our home town, the medieval and historic walled city of Asti, which lends it's name to some of the regions finest wines, is a delightful attractive and friendly town with lively outdoor markets, a wonderful selection of shops, museums and impressive old churches.

Every second weekend in September Asti holds the Festival della Sagre, a regional harvest and food fair with a parade depicting traditional farm activities and marks the start of the "Douja D'Or" a weeklong wine tasting festival, and culminates on the third weekend with a medieval pageant through the old walled city and the famous "Palio d’Asti", a bareback horse race around the central Piazza. Although there are other Palios in Italy, Asti's event is the oldest recorded one.

Thirty kilometres south lies Asti's rival city, Alba, another old city with roots going back to Roman times, and as well as being the nearest city for the famous "Barolo" and "Barbaresco" wine-areas, Alba is an important town for the chocolate industry with factories of Rocher and Ferrero (who make "Nutella"). Alba is also internationally famous for “Tartuffi Bianchi” (white truffles) and has a weekend market in October attracting many tourists. However all truffles are found all over the region and almost every town in the Monferrato holds a "tartuffi' festival in autumn. In fact the later in the year the better the truffles get.

Acqui Terme, is another Roman town, and given its natural hot springs, it must have been a favourite for weary legionnaires. The town has two natural "terme" or spa facilities, a huge outdoor swimming pool, a very smart shopping street, and exudes the relaxed feeling of a spa town

The Langhe, Roero and Monferrato regions are sprinkled with hilltop villages each with its own castle, a reminder of the days when Piedmont was the direct route of armies marching between Italy and France, a tradition which started with Hannibal, included Napoleon (his first great victory at Marengo is outside Allesandria) and only ceased with Italian unification under the House of Savoy. Each town has its own beautifully decorated church, and boasts an "enoteca" (wine store) and at least one excellent restaurant. Some towns to visit include Agliano Terme (another spa), Nizza Monferatto (an important market town) Costigliole D'Asti, Moncalvo, Mango, Cocconato, Gavi and many others. Each town holds its own Sagre festival featuring local wine or local delicacy, and there is nearly always a festival somewhere every weekend.

A few hours drive from Asti to the south on the spectacular autostrada through the Apennine Mountains brings you to Genoa and the Liguria region, a long arc of land nestled between the mountains and the sea. Genoa is a historic seaport, once an important and rich republic the rival to Venice for influence in the Mediterranean, and the birthplace of Christopher Columbus. This city, still the biggest seaport in Italy is a fascinating mixture of new Genoa with its wide boulevards and smart buildings and old Genoa, a maze of small streets and alleys, the largest old town center left in Italy, with a real sense of living history.The Ligurian Riviera comprises of two sections, west of Genoa is a string of beach resorts such as Allassio and San Remo, running all the way to the French border and beyond to Monte Carlo and the French Riviera. East of Genoa are more rugged, fishing villages with cliffs dropping into the ocean and famous resorts such as Santa Margherita and Portofino and the world-famous Cinque Terre villages. Drive inland from the beaches and in 20 minutes you are in hillsides with olive groves, vines and old villages looking as if time stopped still.

Drive North from Asti through Allesandria and the rice paddies of the River Po plains, and in an hour you are in the Val D'Aosta, Italy's smallest and most alpine province, it feels like Switzerland. The Aosta valley has been a natural passage through the Alps since Roman times, land marked by historical castles and now it's the on the road leading to the Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc) tunnel with France. Don't miss Lago Maggiore to the east of Aosta, with the gorgeous Isola Bella, an entire island landscaped into a baroque garden adjoining its huge palazzo.

Turin, our nearest big city, combines a modern city known for its auto and film industries with the grace of the former seat of the Royal House of Savoy, who became the Royal family of Italy after the countries' unification in the 19th century.Turin is a charming city with baroque architecture, wonderful piazzas and coffee shops, spacious streets lined with porticos, and with the Alps as a backdrop. There are excellent galleries and museums (including the second largest Egyptian museum in the world, the auto museum of course and a magnificent cinema museum), many palaces and of course the famous and controversial "Shroud of Turin" kept in the Duomo. In our opinion it's a wonderful place to visit, all the better that it doesn't attract as many tourists as Rome, Venice or Florence

And for those with fashion on their minds, we are an hour from Milan, with its designer boutiques as well as a gorgeous Duomo Cathedral, the incredible castle, Da Vinci’s Last Supper mural and the stupendous art gallery.

Ah so many places to see, please don't rush!

 

Site Design by Erin Brewer

(Click to enlarge photos)
Palio Parade
il Palio D'Asti
Casteliglione Tinella
Castellinaldo
San Stefano Belbo
Porto Fino (Liguria)
Isola Bella (Lago Maggiore)
Acqui Terme
Abbazia Vezzolano