We found a place that time forgot. A place that is heart achingly beautiful. A place with gently rolling hills covered in vines and topped with perfectly preserved villages with winding streets, cobblestone piazzas, and grand old churches that ring out the hour. In the mornings while grandmas make pastas after visiting the farmers markets with their roller bags, the grandpas do what Italian grandpas do best, sip espresso at the cafe and argue, probably about the color of the sky, until everyone is beckoned home by the smells of garlic wafting from the open windows. 
The roads are winding and un-trafficked. It is a very easy place to drive if you rent a car. Unlike some other places in Italy, it’s super calm and not intimidating. No Roman style roundabouts twelve swirling honking cars deep here. The little village of Vignale Monferrato is located an hour and change from airports in Milan, Turin, and Genoa. Milan (MXP) is the closest. If you would like to arrive by train from elsewhere in Italy, the two closest stations are in Alessandria and Asti. The Piemonte region is famous for wine, truffles, and is the birthplace of the SLOW food movement, so the snack game is very strong. 


The fun begins in 

Join us from May 23 through May 26, 2024

for

Art, Culture, Fun and Food and of course... Wine!

How to get here

Best airports to fly into

Turin (TRN)
Milan Malpensa (MXP)
Milan Linate (LIN)
Genoa City Airport (GOA)

All airports are about an hour's drive away and serviced by multiple alliances via Amsterdam, Paris, London, Frankfurt, Madrid. At the moment it seems tickets are cheaper into Turin than they are into Malpensa and even cheaper into Linate. 


Best (closest) train stations

Alessandria
Asti

The best way to explore the area and really get around, is by rental car.


Prices are pretty low, full coverage is usually included in Europe.

The website happycar.de has great rates. BUT, use the translator in your browser, not the English version of the site, as they immediately raise the prices otherwise for English speakers.

Driving in this zone is very easy. Lots of small roads, but hardly any traffic.

Also, make sure to get an International Drivers license at your local AAA office. They cost about $20. Some rental agencies demand one... so better have it!

Lodging 

Come for the afternoon, or stay for a while. There are some wonderful affordable hotels in the area. 

These are just a few options. There are so so many beautiful places to eat and stay at in the area! Everything from tiny bed and breakfasts, to farm stays, to swanky wine estates. 

La Locanda della Rocca di Camagna

https://www.laroccadicamagna.com/la-locanda/

Via Matteotti, 27
15030 Camagna Monferrato ( AL)
Tel/Fax Cell. +39 339 – 17 53 128
E-Mail: info@laroccadicamagna.com

Only a few rooms here, well priced and very typical decor for the area.
The beautiful village of Camagna is only a few miles from Vignale.

La Bordona - Il Gioiello del Monferrato

https://goo.gl/maps/TLG2UhamTperNb5y7?coh=178572&entry=tt

Str. Bordona, 20

Tel: +39 331-9442881

e-mail: velentini.verusca@gmail.com

Il Mongetto

https://www.mongetto.it/

romantic accommodations in an old villa with hand-painted ceilings in the village run by Carlo, a bearded winemaker and his trusty pup Buba (pronounced Boo-buh). 

doubles around 90€ and include breakfast. 

La Roca Vineyards

http://www.laroccaitalia.com/

2 large accommodations that sleep 4 or 7 if you are a group 100€.

Ca Dell'ebbro

https://www.cadellebbro.it/

Modern hotel with a pool on the grounds of a winery just outside of town. Will require driving to events.

 clienti@cantina-hicetnunc.it 
+39 0142 670165

Intersegna agritourismo 

https://www.intersenga.com

For a stay on an upscale organic farm with a pool at the foot of the village.

I Castagnoni

https://www.icastagnoni.it/en/resort-rooms-monferrato/

Romantic Spa hotel with beautiful gardens a 15 minute drive from Vignale.

Ariotto Village

https://www.ariotto.it/ENG/index.php

A larger property that allows pets. It is about a 15 minute drive from Vignale and has a variety of different room configurations to suit any size group.

B&B Antico Borgo

http://anticoborgo-bb.it

Located within a short walk of restaurants, the pharmacy, small bodega, and the coffee bar in the village of Vignale

Locanda degli Ultimi

https://maps.app.goo.gl/yowkcG3dvzf5hFan7?g_st=ic

Wonderful little hotel run by a winemaking family that are known for making outrageously good food. Just outside of town, maybe a ten or 15 minute walk on a country road. 

Villa Morneto

http://villamorneto.it

Located amidst the vines with a pool only a few minute drive to Vignale.

Tenuta Montemagno

http://tenutamontemagno.it

A wine estate a 10 minute drive from Vignale and near the village of Montemagno which has a beautiful castle. 

Hotel Victoria Torino

http://hotelvictoria-torino.com

This is an hour drive from Vignale, so not exactly local, but if you are flying in and out of Turin (“Torino” in Italian) or you want to explore the area more, please stay here. This hotel is AMAZING. In a great location to see all the sites on foot. AND THE SPA.  Torino is an incredible city. 

 

 

 

 

What to do

If you want to stay for awhile (and we think you should) there is so much to do!

Favorite restaurants

Osteria della Luna

+39 339 809 9809

https://maps.app.goo.gl/QnfbNW2Pz1w67oEB7?g_st=ic

On the edge of the village, in a giant vaulted brick structure, you will find this lovely little Osteria. They offer a great selection of beer, somewhat unusual for the area, as well as burgers and really amazing seasonal pasta and bruschetta. 

Trattoria Vineria Serenella Le Tre Lasagne

+39 0142 933412

https://maps.app.goo.gl/e6vkmSAeJkbhVzrA9?g_st=ic

This is in the heart of the village just off the main piazza. The wine list here is other worldly. If you like steak, do not hesitate. Be brave and order it sangue, and slather it in the course salt and olive oil they bring. Next door there is a fabulous little shop to pick up some loot. 

La Rocca di Camagna

+39 0142 925138

https://maps.app.goo.gl/47FzVDMAQMjLWxHA6?g_st=ic

One of our latest finds. A magical restaurant just around the corner from one of the most outrageously adorned churches in the area. Amazing authentic regional cuisine at a great price. 

PIATTOPIANO

+39 392 223 4000

https://maps.app.goo.gl/5EdDgqi3btvNHNkE9?g_st=ic

Ultimate hospitality from a husband and wife team who offer a refined take on Piemontese cuisine in a beautiful garden. Amazing wine list. Go here and feel beautiful and well taken care of. 

Ristorante Mister Barbera di Altavilla

+39 0142 926179

https://maps.app.goo.gl/YDJV9FBbEzPRa2et9?g_st=ic

Simple heartfelt lunches from a daily menu written on a chalkboard that will make your soul sing. 

Academia Ristorante

+39 0142 452269

https://maps.app.goo.gl/1YEreGHriXWfRRu5A?g_st=ic

One of the most striking entrances to a restaurants we have seen!

 

Wineries

If you imbibe, wine tasting in this region is a must. Bigger cantinas will sometimes offer tours in English, but don’t let a lack of italian stop you from going wine tasting. Some experiences will be very swanky and sleek and others will be in a dusty cantina just off the production facility. Some places will offer snacks when you reserve to go along with the wine tasting, say yes! Most villages have what are called a Cantina Sociale, which can be a great opportunity to find ultra regional delights. Barbera, Dolcetto, Grignolino, Ruché and Bonarda are the common reds from the area and their most common whites will be Cortese, Chardonnay and Asti Spumante. 

Tenuta La Tenaglia Srl

+39 0142 940252

https://maps.app.goo.gl/6W9v5QA9PQ45KRf7A?g_st=ic

Beautiful tasting room. Quite likely there will be English (and maybe even German) speaking staff here. 

Ferraris Agricola

+39 0141 292202

https://maps.app.goo.gl/6dAWAUvDVWuqwWp19?g_st=ic

Azienda Agricola Gatto Pierfrancesco

+39 0141 292149

https://maps.app.goo.gl/RMF3v1RyC6KVDBEW8?g_st=ic

A very rustic and heartfelt tasting experience. They made a wine for Bonny Doon back in the day! 

Azienda vitivinicola Pastorello Mario

+39 333 463 4060

https://maps.app.goo.gl/HkGf4bf3UsJD1m7G6?g_st=ic

Accornero Vineyards

One of the oldest and most respected wineries in the region. Tastings available Monday through Saturday and can be booked online

http://accornerovini.it

Mazzetti D'Altavilla 

+39 0142 926147

https://maps.app.goo.gl/MgNs4zRVPSU4TWQ89?g_st=ic

In the the neighboring village of Altavilla there is a distillery, should you desire a slightly stronger tipple. They offer tastings and tours and they also have a restaurant that offers pairings with each course.

Barolo is an hour drive. The tiny village is like a Disneyland for wine. The drive is stunning and the area is fun to see, but definitely has a more commercial feel than the rest of the area. 

We have often shipped wine back to California and it’s usually no problem. Grappa and his higher grade friends can’t be shipped, but a bottle or two can usually be tucked safely in a suitcase. 

Optional Activities

Infernòts are a unique and amazing curiosity of this area. They are wine cellars dug by hand out of the soft stone by farmers during the winters. A museum dedicated to the craft is here: 

Truffle Hunting:

https://tartufaioperungiorno.com/en/program-and-regulation/

 

Ecomuseum of Stone County

+39 0142 488161

https://maps.app.goo.gl/ps46PerQmQse3y2QA?g_st=ic

 

Airbnb Experiences

There are a number of activities with locals that you can book through Airbnb. Everything from Pasta making, to hiking, to wine tasting.

 

Quad tours & E-bike rentals

Piemonte Quad Avventura

+39 348 646 6515

https://maps.app.goo.gl/bwmzxuJyjfZnY2H48?g_st=ic

 

Hiking & cycling 

There are numerous parks and trails in the area. You can do strolls from village to village or do some serious treks. Cycling in Italy is serious business, so if spandex is your thing, you have found your paradise. 

 

 Special Reserve of Sacro Monte di Crea

+39 0141 927120

https://maps.app.goo.gl/zaRsJbkgzLpk65YJ9?g_st=ic

If you are feeling spiritual or are simply just a fan of beautiful old churches, the Sacred Mount of Crea might be of interest. “The Sacred Mountains” were created in the late 1400’s as a safer alternative for the pilgrims that wanted to travel to the Holy Land. The series of mounts are a unique ensemble of chapels and votive altars representing Jesus’ Life and Passion that people can travel between in a meditative journey, or simply to admire the incredible art and experience this UNESCO site.

 

Golf 

Golf Club Margara

+39 0131 778555

https://maps.app.goo.gl/X54jx7tykjx3RZdZ9?g_st=ic

Things to know about Monferrato

 

Restaurants

Italians LOVE for you to make reservations. They often buy food and staff for the number of people they have on the books, so it is a good idea to book in advance. Even if you call a few minutes prior to when you want to go, they appreciate it. This area is somewhat rural, so it is a good idea to think about your meals ahead of time. Your hotel is also a great resource for making reservations for you or recommending places. You can also reach out to Heidi if you need help with booking something. Google maps is great for hunting around for restaurants, but we have found that the reviews are generally very off.  We have had much better luck ignoring ratings and instead looking at the pictures. Your eyes know what is delicious. The food quality and wine in this region is very good, we have thrown a dart in the dark many times and left full and completely dazzled.

 

Breakfast: is not a thing in Italy, they tend to have a croissant (called a “brioche” in much of northern Italy) or a cookie and a cappuccino. Milk in coffee = breakfast. Italians believe it is not good for your health to have milk in your coffee after 11am. But a cig with an espresso is LIVING. Most villages have a little coffee bar. Vignale has two, Cafe della Pesa and the Caffetteria.

Lunch: seatings start at noon and go until 2pm. Restaurants are closed between 3 and 7pm. Most shops are as well.  Some bars are still open and serve coffee, drinks, and sometimes a bag of chips, but really pickings are SLIM during this witching hour. 

Aperitivo: The Italian happy hour. Generally between 5-7pm people have a glass of wine, a campari and soda,or a beer and some small nibbles. These can range from robust and outrageous snacks you could mistake as a meal, to just potato chips and peanuts. People often think of tomato as being the quintessential taste of italy, but I think it might more accurately be the salty lays potato chip. Befriend him.

Dinner: seatings are between 7.30-9:30pm. Do not be surprised if the server encourages you to have the last bite of something on the plate. Food is a precious resource and they are also very invested in you enjoying your food and will worry that you didn’t like what they made. Do not be shy about having the last bite of anything! 

Everywhere in Europe they use the 24hr system, so be prepared when they ask you for confirmation of a desired time and say thirteen or twenty, rather than the 1pm or 8pm you requested.

Water is not included! You either order acqua gasata (sparkling) or naturale (still.) Costs anywhere from 1.50 to 3.50 EUR per bottle.
The tap water (acqua di rubinetto) in Vignale is absolutely fine to drink, as it is almost everywhere in Italy, but it isn’t customary to drink it and often not served. Initial question in any restaurant, is usually, if you want still or sparkling for the table, as soon as you sit down.

This is a rural and relaxed setting. Many people dress well for a meal out because it is a pleasure, but you don’t need to feel pressured anywhere you go here to dress a certain way. It will be harvest season and you will see many vineyard workers with purple paws and jeans mixed into the crowd.

Mastercard and Visa are taken most places, Amex is less popular. Whenever possible, especially in smaller family owned establishments, it is very appreciated to pay in cash. Always expect to pay in cash for small things like coffee or at farmers markets.

Groceries

There is a big grocery store called Gulliver’s between Vignale and Alta Villa. They are open from 9am-8pm continuously. EXCEPT on Sunday- when they close at 1pm. If you are arriving on a sunday: buy snacks ahead of time.  Each village also usually has a small bodega (these will also not be open on Sunday afternoons.). Vignale has two, one is attached to Caffetteria and the other is at Piazza Mezzadra, 5. 

ATMs

Intesa Sanpaolo is a bank on the Piazza del Popolo in Vignale that has an ATM. Most post offices (Poste Italiane) also have ATMs. Unicredit is another bank name to look for, when trying to find an ATM. It is generally advised to decline the offered conversion at ATM’s when you withdraw euros as the quoted rate is higher.

Pharmacy

There is a small pharmacy in Vignale at Via Roma, 8. It is open most days from 8:30am-12:30 and from 3:30-7:30pm. It is closed on Sundays and Thursday afternoons.

Be advised that even the most simple things like an Asprin or band aids are NOT sold anywhere else BUT at a pharmacy in Italy. Supermarkets do not sell medications. Be aware that a “Para Farmacia” specializes in alternative and often highly overpriced medications. Only a regular Farmacia sells most brand names you are familiar with. 


Taxi/Uber/Transportation

Non esiste! as the Italians would say. This area is extremely rural and there are no car share services or taxis. While there is a bus that goes to Vignale, it runs on a schedule more suited for getting people to and from work. Fortunately, all the locations we have on our schedule are close by, a brisk 45 minute walk at worst, and since there are so many of you beautiful people all in one place, we think it will all work out. Rental cars at the airports are inexpensive and we do recommend having one. Driving in this part of Italy is easy, especially with Google maps. If there is anybody without transportation, there are "black car" type "driver services", but they are by arrangement only and not inexpensive. Transfers from the train stations in Asti and Alessandria run about 100 EUR, the airports more in the 200-300 EUR range.




About the weather...

The climate in Vignale is probably very comparable to Napa Valley... hence the fabulous wine.

While we are no experts (yet), lets say this:

For those of you who were here in October last year, we think the weather will be about the same... maybe even warmer.
While October was post harvest, everything will be in bloom, growing and green this time of year.


The temperatures in the daytime should get to the high 70s and night time temperatures should be around the 60 degree marks. (that is 13 to 25 celsius) 
In the sun, it might feel significantly warmer, nights might get cooler. Hopefully no rain... but it is springtime, so it should rain in fact, but last May... zero precipitation for the whole month.
So pack accordingly. 

A word maybe for people with allergies. Be aware, it's springtime bloom. Being that this area is full of meadows, hedges, fields and forests, just about any type of pollen known to man will be in the air. Come prepared.

Anybody wanting more weather details, they can be found here... https://www.wunderground.com/history/monthly/it/san-maurizio-canavese/LIMF/date/2022-10

Final note for people that are prone to mosquito bites... "zanzare", as they are called here, can be a huge problem, especially if it rains and moisture levels rise, so do pack your "jungle grade bug repellant" just in case.


See you this fall!