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
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!
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