B 2 B: Business to Business, in previous working life speech, or for us in now in Motorhome world, Bra to Barolo.
Well actually it was C 2 B, as we left the coast of Finale Ligure and drove off in inauspicious thunder, lightning and heavy rain for an inland town called Cuneo. Why, you might ask? But for us it was more a case of ‘why not?!’. We had eventually done a bit of planning (aka arguing) and had sort of decided on a route, Covid permitting, still aiming northward towards France, via the lovely northern area of Italy known as Piedmont, famed for its wine in particular.
Cuneo - famed for it’s rum chocs
Cuneo, caught our attention, as ever, via Lonely Planet and its reviews of the town’s signature rum filled chocolates. The main square, Piazza Galimberti, is gargantuan - bigger than Trafalgar Square but with far fewer people. None-the-less, it is just as impressive with its Napoleonic avenues 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.
Italy - style and styleBaggy trousers- the elasticated waists will come in handy!Resisted them in Turkey, but finally succumbed
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 delightful park, which seemed to encircle most of the town. The well-marked cycle paths flowed into other equally delightful small villages, all with more than their fair share of gelaterias. I was starting to realise that the elasticated pants purchase was a wise one, after all!
Cuneo - rivalling Trafalgar Square for grandeurCuneo - David and his new Covid-aware bestieCuneo - market day, where the French arrived en-masse
Arriving on the Monday under grey skies we had decided on just two nights in Cuneo, but after our first foray into the main Piazza and having taken a delightful cycle the next day we decided to stay for three nights. After all, we have the time and there were restaurants to be tried. Piedmont is renowned for its abundance of very high-class restaurants and Cuneo is up there with them, having some three Michelin starred restaurants on one street alone, two of which are 2020 listed. Tempting as they were, as you know we are budget conscious, so we ignored the Michelin stars and decided on Bove’s, a Piedmont/ Brooklyn lookalike that serves up Piedmont Cruda (raw minced beef) and high quality steaks and good quality burgers.
Bove’s - our steak dinnerMy God, there’s some wine in this glass!
It is number 5 in the Trip Advisor hit parade, so we didn’t go too far wrong and the food was in fact delicious. We sat outside, with a lovely local red recommended by our boy-child waiter, looking at all the 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, both inside and out! “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 pass.” So sad were we, that we nearly decided on a second dinner with him, when five people turned up and I heard the name Christian mentioned. We know from Trip Advisor that there is a famed restaurant in town 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 Christian can do! The restaurant that previously looked so sad and empty was suddenly a hive of activity, with one probably frazzled and over-stretched Christian at the helm!
We left Cuneo on the Thursday after two lovely bike rides, some lovely dinners and Aperitivo, plus 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.
Cuneo - Cooling my feet. That’s ruined the water supply!Lamb chops a la Buster
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 it’s 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 HQs 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.
Slow Food Movement Snail
As we keep mentioning, the one good thing about Covid is the lack of people, and the ability to be able to get into places and, here again, this was the case. It was a busy restaurant, but not packed, so at 2pm we were both seated in the delightful courtyard, handed the menus and served by another delightful boy-child waiter, who again knew his wines well 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. 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.
Bra - David’s trio of meat startersBra - Yum, slow cooked veal in Barolo
Arriving at about 6pm that evening, full and hot, the sight of a small swimming pool was a delight- but, we discovered, a chargeable extra at €5 each. 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 tasting
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 than that it’s a gem. It’s €5 for everything to us motorhomers, including the parking. €5 for a swim, €5 for breakfast each.
Breakfast on the terrace- a good €5 spend
Simple, easy and extremely good value, especially the breakfast, as we sat out on the terrace with the other roomies 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.
Barolo view -just stunningBarolo chapel- designed by LeWitt & Tremlett. Looks like a jumper my mum knitted for me, long agoAfter 12k walk in 38 degrees, wine or water???
Twelve kilometres in 38 degree heat, 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, 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 realised as ever, we had made a mistake. Not sure why we ever do it, especially when there’s usually no discount for more nights, but we paid ahead. After parking up and walking into the delightful, most amazingly pretty town, we realised we had overegged the pud. As lovely as it was, one night would suffice. 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 headed back to Buster, opening all doors and 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!).
Barolo - a very pretty townNeive - sunset over the vinesMy kingdom for a grapeUhm, might have had a couple of these!It’s blog day, Karen hard at work!!
We parked up, having forgone the second day, in the hills on another vineyard. The views over the vineyards and other equally beautiful hill top villages were stunning, the sound of silence deafening. I succumb to a lovely bottle of the local Asti, admiring the view and taking in the sun and the peace, before David makes a Slow Movement Chicken curry.