Saturday 31 May 2008

Festival of the flowers in Piedmont (Italy) - 15th June

For the lucky who are in the Piedmont/Monferrato area on Sunday the 15th of June, you may want to take a trip to Cella Monte, near Casale Monferrato.

Cella is a lovely village with all the houses brought back to the original limestone bricks typical of this part of the world. In June they celebrate the fact that Cella Monte is proud of its flower-displays throughout Spring and Summer, so they have a festival dedicated to it. If you can go, do it because it is definitely worth it with many events organised throughout the day as well as the usual Italian music and food/wine.

Also the wineries and the private "infernot" (cellars excavated in the limestone) of the area are open to the public for visits.

Unfortunately the website of Cella Monte doesn't seem to have a detailed programme of the day, but I can assure you that it would be a lovely experience of the Italian life!

Saturday 24 May 2008

Weather - Rainy May!

Well, we cannot say that May has been the usual self this year!
We are used to lovely weeks of sunshine where people can take strolls in the lovely medieval villages that are scattered around the Monferrato hills.
Last week for example it constantly rained and when it stopped it was very cloudy and miserable.
We feel sorry for all those tourists who came to our Piedmont area on holiday in the past week or so and missed on the usual cheerfulness of blooming flowers and bright skylines. We hope you had a good time anyway and that this gives you a reason for coming back another time, when may be you will be luckier with the weather.

Friday 23 May 2008

La Mandria - Regional Park in Piedmont

North of Turin, near the hunting palace La Venaria Reale, there is a beautiful regional park called La Mandria certainly worth a visit, especially on a beautiful day. La Mandria was created in the 16th century as a hunting reserve for the Savoy family and also was used as a holiday retreat for the King and his Court. There are several buildings that can be visited, including Royal apartments.

We went just for a couple of hours after visiting La Venaria Reale and we did have a relaxing time indeed. Scattered around the grounds there are farms that have been transformed in restaurants, bars and other attractions. One has a bike-hire facilities so for only a few Euros we got a bike each and pedalled around the park. The children absolutely loved it!

We spent a few minutes at the stables where there were two little foals and a few ponies and horses. We fed them straw that was around the paddocks and loughed at the little ones still struggling to stand steadily on their legs!
We ended up having an aperitif at one of the bars, enjoying the sunshine of 6pm. The children asked for some crisps. Since they didn't have any, compliment of the owner, they served us a massive portion of roasted potatoes with rosemary: delicious!
If I'd known it before, I probably would have spent the day at La Mandria, visiting the various buildings throughout the day. It is a much more child friendly environment than La Venaria Reale as you can have a mixture of sight-seeing and free-running!

Wednesday 21 May 2008

Venaria Reale - Turin

"Venaria Reale" is the hunting residence of the Savoy family between the 16th and 18th century. The palace is set in a magnificent park north-East of Turin, at the edge of hills stretching towards the Alps and covered in woodlands.

The palace was used as an army camp and left in disuse for centuries, but it was restored to its original splendour in the new millennium. The interiors of the palace are quite bare and there is no furniture. Instead, the rooms are hosting an exhibition of paintings and rugs mixed with film and photography art that recreates the court life.

We went with our children who found the palace a little bit boring though! The gardens instead have been also restored and it was lovely to stroll around them on a sunny day.

On a practical note, when you reach Venaria you need to follow the indication for the palace that take you to a side entrance. To your right there is a long road with trees either side if it and entering a gate that indicates "La Mandria" park. You need to park along this road. During the week it is free parking, while at weekend there is a fee to pay. You can then walk to the side entrance of the palace or enter from the gardens. Tickets for the gardens and the palace can be bought jointly or separately.

If you intend to have lunch there, it is better if you take your own lunch. We found the cafe in the gardens to have only a limited choice of sandwiches, especially for children. We also had a coffee and ice-cream in a kiosk by the roses archways.

Thursday 15 May 2008

Recycling... the old way: barrels and gates!

Do you know how our elders recycled their old wooden barrels?

This is an old wine press that we have in the cellar of Villa Mimma. It is made of wooden slats kept together by metal ribbons.
The wooden slats were used in the wood-burning aga and fire-stoves in the households while the metal ribbons were used to build gates!

This is the front gate of Villa Mimma and it was made using the metal from old barrels.

I've been to Villa Mimma many many times in my life and it was only last April (08) that my Mum told me this fascinating story. So armed with my camera I went in the cellar hunting for barrels and took some fab pictures of a few samples. Then I moved onto the gate.

Taking a closer look, you can see the holes of the original nails and the battered metal that was straightened to make the gate!

You never stop learning!

Saturday 10 May 2008

ADSL comes to Treville

Fantastic news: ADSL is now available in Treville too! It took years of persuasion but now TIM (Telecom Italian Mobile) has decided to reach this part of the world too with a fast Internet connection.

Villa Mimma has off course signed up for it and we are now investigating a Wi-Fi network solutions to allow our guests to connect to the Internet for free. A few thick walls to bypass but it will be soon available!!! So, watch out for any update!