Business to business, in previous working life speech, or for us in now in MH world, Bra to Barolo. Well actually it was C 2 B, as we left the coast of Finale Ligure (all sets of keys firmly intact and hanging where they should) as we headed off on the Monday in thunder, lightning and heavy rain for an inland town called Cuneo. Why, you might ask, but for us it was why not. We had eventually done a bit of planning (aka arguing) and had sort of decided on a route, Covid allowing still aiming northward towards France, via the lovely northern area of Italy known as Piedmont famed for its wine, amongst other things.
Cuneo, caught our attention as ever via LP and its signature rum filled chocolates. The main square Piazza Galimberti is gargantuan, think way bigger than Trafalgar Square and think way less people, but none the less just as impressive with its Napoleonic avenues running of each corner full of the usual and not so usual much loved Italian designer shops, and as we are also surrounded by the Maritime Alps many very high class ski and trekking outfitters.
Ah, could we feel another pair of shoes coming on board. There was a myriad of sunglass shops as ever, really how many pairs of sunglasses do you need – well to be honest I have 5 pairs with us at the moment. I started with three, because they are like scarfs and socks- they tend to get lost, and after David trod on a pair of mine that he of course had to replace. Then the must have pair of 50’s style ones brought in Greece, I now have five pairs, two of which are worn most of the time, the third occasionally, as they catch my hair and slid down my nose in the heat and the other two are for “best”. So yes, perhaps there is a need for so many sunglasses or indeed opticians.
The sosta (or Aire) in Cuneo was an absolute delight- secure, water, dump and electricity all for €5, plus on the edge of the most delight park, which seemed to circle most of the town and the well-marked cycle paths flowed into other equally delightful small villages, all with more than their fair share of gelateria’s. Arriving on the Monday in the grey skies we had decided on 2 nights in Cuneo, but after our first foray into the main Piazza and having taken a delightful cycle the next day we decided on three nights. After all, we have the time and there were restaurants to be tried. Piedmont is actually well renowned for its abundance of very high-class restaurants and Cuneo is up there with them, having in one side road some three Michelin starred restaurants, two of which are 2020 listed. But, as you know we are budget conscious, so we ignored those and decided on Bove’s, a Piedmont/ Brooklyn lookalike that serves up Piedmont cruda (raw minced beef) and high quality steaks and of recent times good quality burgers.
It is number 5 in the Trip Advisor hit parade, so we didn’t go too far wrong and the food was delicious as we sat outside, with a lovely local red recommended by our boy- child waiter, looking at all the other posh people going into the Michelin restaurants on that road. We did feel ever so sorry for the man and his restaurant right opposite us, as he had no-one in and Bove’s was rammed in and outside. “How terribly sad” we both said to each other (we do occasionally talk!) he has no one in there and no real menu either, just him sat outside saying Bonjourno to people as they passed. So sad were we, that we nearly decided on a second dinner with him, when five people turned up and started chatting to him on his doorstep, obviously with a view to going in and eating there. Uhm, I thought -either brave or knowing and then a cent dropped when one of them said something, something “Christian” “Pull up TP again David” (K) there is a restaurant here in this town that is famed for, where everything is done by Christian. The serving, the drinks, the wines, the food, the entertainment. Another party of five arrived and were seated, another party of two turned away, after all there is only so much a Christian can do. The restaurant that was so empty and looked so sad was suddenly full enough and is apparently number three in the town’s restaurant hit parade. Never judge a book………….
We left Cuneo on the Thursday after two lovely cycles, some lovely dinners and Aperitivo with a bag of the famed rum chocolates and another pair of shoes- for David, not me, a pair of walking shoes for his yet to do camino and time for him to walk them in.
When is a Bra not a Bra? When it’s a small town in Piedmont and famed not for its supportive qualities, but for being where the Slow Food Movement first took root in 1986 and its something of a gastronomic pilgrimage site. There is the Universita di Science Gastronomiche, where you can take a three year course in gastronomy and food management. There is also the Osteria del Boccondivino, which on the first floor houses the HQ’s of the Slow Food Movement and where in the ground floor courtyard you can also eat, and we did just that on the Thursday lunchtime.
As we keep mentioning, the one good thing about Covid is the lack of people, and the ability to be able to get in places and here again was the case. It was a busy restaurant, but not rammed and so at 2pm we were both seated in the delightful courtyard, handed the menu’s and served by another delightful boy-child waiter, who again did know his wines and steered us to a locally sourced Riesling- no oil or petrol undertones with this one. David started with a lovely meat trio, consisting of the raw mince, sausage and a cold cut ham,
followed by veal slow cooked in a Barolo, yum yum. Slightly over our daily budget and after having done a small essential shop in Penny Market we needed cheap and cheerful lodging for the night. B2B, was our course and so after a quick phone call we made our way to a vineyard in Barolo.
Arriving at about 6pm that evening, full and hot, the sight of a small swimming pool was a delight, but hang back at €5 a go would we get full value that evening, No said I, go have shower, that’s free. And so we parked Buster as close as we could to the hedge at the edge of the swimming pool, giving our fridge the shadow it much needed as well as plugging into electricity.
Franco Molino vineyard was an absolute delight and as well as having rooms, they also allow a few motorhomes to park up. The downside is that there is little or no shadow (our new speak for shade) but other then that it’s a gem. It’s €5 for everything to us motorhomers, including the parking. €5 for a swim, €5 for breakfast each.
Simple, easy and extremely good value, especially the breakfast as we sat out on the terrace with the other roomie’s who had paid I guess a lot more than €5 for the privilege (plus we did have the use of a shower and toilet). Then The Mistake, on that lovely hot 38 degree day was the circular walk of about 12k, via the lovely Barolo vineyard lookout town of La Morra to Barolo and back.
Twelve kilometers in 38 degree’s through undulating, if not downright steep vineyards was not a good idea. The good idea had been that we would be winetasting, and therefore shouldn’t drive or cycle, but never in my life have I ever wanted a glass of water over a glass of wine so much in my life. I think we only managed two glasses of Barolo on the tour until we got back to Buster and collapsed by the pool, crying out for a cold beer and cold white wine-thankfully brought to us by the lovely owner of said estate.
The next day, Saturday after a lovely full value €5 by the pool morning, we sadly left Franco Molino’s and made the 20 minute drive to the supposedly, most beautiful hilltop village in this part of Italy- Neive. After parking up on the sosta (no swimming pool to be seen) and paying our €20 for two nights and walking into the town, we realized as ever, we had made a mistake. Not sure why we ever do it, especially when there’s usually no discount for more nights, we paid ahead. After parking up and walking into the Yes delightful, most amazingly pretty town No, we realized we had as ever overegged the pud. The sun was unrelenting and after a small tasting of the village’s four legendary wines- Dolcetto d’Alba, Barbaresco, Moscato and Barbera d’Alba we heading back to Buster opening all doors, windows and shading as much as we could before eating pork chops, potatoes and green beans-all home cooked and I would say living up to the Slow Food Movements requirements, including mint sauce and Bisto powder (not granules!).
We are now parked up, having forgone the one days parking, in the hills on another vineyard. The views are stunning over the vineyards, grapes and many other equally beautiful hill top villages, the sound of silence deafening and if I was a writer I would come here to scribe, but I’m not -it’s blog day Sunday and here I am under the influence of a lovely bottle of the local Asti (who could tell!!) admiring the view and taking in the sun and the peace, before David makes a Slow Movement Chicken curry.
Next week looking for Knickers and/or Pants and there’s a glacier melting on route!!