woensdag 15 juni 2016

North Italy holiday: Piemonte 14-15 June

Tuesday, 14 June
Wine tasting in Piemonte, a must. We had an appointment at 10 o'clock at Azienda vitivinicola Fernando Principiano in Monteforte d'Alba. The Spanish wife of the owner Fernando (who we also met) received us ever so kindly and we had a pleasant and informative tasting. Although 10 am is rather early for red wine ^-^

the very kind Spanish wife of Fernando explaining

We did some touring around the area and visited some of the lovely little villages. 

Novello: on the left the castle of Novello, which now is a hotel. On the right a lesh posh building.

lunch with local dishes at osteria Belvedere in La Morra, surrounded by of wines.

Wednesday, 15 June

Great day for a hike. So we put on our walking shoes.
Along the road we saw: vineyards, hazelnut orchards, great views, wheat fields, lovely but deserted (holiday?) houses and contemplating landshapes (as the signs indicated ^-^)

it was warm

This evening it's storming here; fierce wind. 
For tomorrow rain is predicted, so we will leave Piemonte and go up north to a place called home.
BUT, slowly coz it's still holiday

maandag 13 juni 2016

North Italy holiday: Piemonte a room with a view: 12-13 June

view from one of the terraces of our penthouse in Piemonte

Sunday, 12 June
We left Verona in the rain and headed to Piemonte with a bypass to Pavia, where we visited the Certosa di Pavia. A bit disappointing coz at the monastery/church we were pushed into a sort of group with a nasty very loud female guide, who only spoke Italian and who kept shouting 'NO pictures', blerghh.

travelling day

Certosa di Pavia 

one gets tired

our house for the coming days QB apartments in Montelupo Albese  

apartment no. 9 the penthouse (we got an upgrade)

QB apartments were designed and built by the owner who is an architect. All ecological friendly and the interior design of the apartment is very modern. Moreover it's brand new (not all finished). We love it here, and therefore decided to stay another night (up to and including Wednesday, 15 June).

In the evening we had a great dinner at trattoria La Coccinella in Serravalle Langhe. Yummie food of the region, loved it. 

The Barolo wine we had at this trattoria we liked both, coz unlike most Barolo wines it hardly has any tannin and also is low in acidity. So we made an appointment and on Tuesday visited this winery :-)

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Monday, 13 June

Shopping in Alba, relaxing, reading in the pool and preparing a home made dinner in our appartment. This is holiday.

zaterdag 11 juni 2016

North Italy holiday: visiting Biondelli 11 June

There are definitely worse ways to spend a rainy Saturday morning: what a wonderful private tour and tasting we had by Joska, the owner of the family-run Biondelli Franciacorta winery. Thanks so much to Lara Mol, of wijnkoperij La Bordelaise wijnen in Leiden, who arranged the appointment with Joska for us.

We arrived at the Biondelli winery at 10 o'clock sharp as communicated by email. It was raining, but who cares. Joska received us and took us to the vineyards and explained a lot about his method of making ecological franciacorta wine. 

Joska is a very analytical and structured person. He does all the work himself: marketing, sales, bookkeeping, working in the vineyards, etc.
Busy guy he is. We were super happy he made time to receive us. 
We tasted the various Biondelli Franciacorta wines and Joska explained about their differences, his ecological method of producing, showed us the wine press, etc. He even produces his own 'sugar', which is added to the wines, coz he doesn't wish to use industrial sugar. 
He has outspoken principles and ideas about making food and wines: why should you keep wine drinkable for 10 years by adding sulphite every 3 months? Nobody expects hamburgers to be eatable for 10 years, do they?

After 2 agreeable hours of pleasant and interesting conversation we left with a bottle of red wine which Joska drinks always with his father and a box of the Biondelli special brand franciacorta 'Premiere Dame'.

We had a lovely lunch in Due Colombre in Borgo Antico, a Michelin star restaurant which Joska had advised us. It was superb! We both had the Due Colombre Classics menu.

we started with a Franciacorta wine of course 

 loved the home made tagliatelle (bottom left picture)

The Menu:

  • Purple Potato...2016
  • Lake Iseo Char Wafer, Flowers and Sprouts 
  • Home Made Tagliatelle, “12 Hours” Rabbit Ragout, Rosemary Oil, Crispy Parmesan Cheese (which was a recipe of the chef's mother)
  • The Due Colombe Oil Beef with Polenta 
  • Acacia Honey Parfait, Caramelized Hazelnuts, Extra Virgin Sebino Olive Oil (surprising how olive oil poured over a dessert fits)

After our sumptuous lunch we drove around the Iseo lake, where it was already busy. One can imagine how crowded this area will be in summer time.
We took a windy road through the mountains which took us quite some time to get back to the highway.

lake Iseo

In the evening we strolled along the river to the Castelvecchio and afterwards had drinks at 'our bar'; Zen lounge cafe. There was a 'silent party' organized on the square. Fun all these coloured headphones.

silent party

Tomorrow we will leave Verona and go to Piemonte, the area of Barolo.

To be continued.

vrijdag 10 juni 2016

North Italy holiday: Verona 9-11 June

detail of a panel of the bronze door 

Thursday 9 June: 
Arrived at our hotel Lenotti Sleep and More in Verona.
After moving the boxes of wine from the car to our hotel room we visited the San Zeno Maggiore, which is an amazing church. Great fresco's (again), phew too many pictures.

our hotel Lenotte Sleep & More in Verona

truly awesome frescos in this church; even in the 16th century graffiti existed (bottom left picture)

fresco's painted on top of existing ones

smiling San Zeno (left)

the bronze door with the panels (left)

Tomorrow we will spend the day in Verona old town, so to be continued

***   ***   ***

Friday 10 June:
A day in Verona

It will be a warm day today. After breakfast we took the bus and visited the Giardino Giusto, a beautiful renaissance garden with great views of the city.

we conquered the maze (right photo)

ponte Pietra

Next stop: 'the Cattedrale' of Verona, which include S Giovanni in Fonte, S. Elena and the Canons' cloister. I was impressed by the octagonal baptismal font, which dated back to the 12th century and is carved out of one marble block. 

the baptismal font 

fresco in the Battistero

Next stop; the Basilica di Sant'Anastasia

The statues on the upper right picture were being renovated, that's why the statue in the middle misses it's cross and looks a bit silly now

Above the famous fresco Saint George and the princess by Pisanello, which is positioned high up on the wall and therefore not easy to see, however, there is a video shown in several languages at ground level that shows/explains it all  

the hunchbacks of the holy water stoup of the S. Anastasia

 Definitely time for lunch after all this culture.
a super lunch/wine at posh restaurant Dante at the piazza dei Signori

piazza Erbe on the right

The famous arena of Verona. As the picture on the right shows they are already preparing for the opera Aida, which will be performed end of June in the arena.

the balcony of  Juliet and part of one of the surrounding walls with grafiti and 'lovers notes'

Our 'last church of the day'  was the San Fermo Maggiore, which exists of a lower and an upper church. The lower church is 1000 yrs old and has impressive fresco's. It was built by Benedictine monks to hold the relics of the saints Fermo and Rustico.

What impressed us in the upper church was a fresco showing the martyrdom of Franciscan monks in India; i.e. they were slaughtered by cutting them in half. Brrr 

top right the fresco of the monks being slaughtered

drinks with bites; our 'dinner'  

to be continued