Wednesday, November 26, 2014

On the hills of Trezzo Tinella

Over the week in Piedmont, we stayed in a lovely house on the hills at Trezzo Tinella, a small commune not far away from Neive and Barbaresco in Langhe. It's not the first time we chose not to stay in a regular hotel but went for a short-term rental option - we did that 2 years ago in Tuscany, and with websites like AirBnB getting more popular and into mainstream it's easier now to find more information about such accommodations.

Piedmont was quite a wide area to cover, but we figured since we were coming mainly for the White Truffles Fair in Alba, we may as well base in its proximity. And at the end after looking through scores of websites, checking out pictures and reviews and a few emails exchanged with the landlord, we settled for this 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom property about 20 minutes away from Alba.

Our host/landlord Giovanna retired and bought this house and the nearby vineyards, remodeled the house and turned that into 3 separate units - 2 of which were up for short-term rental (for travelers like us), and she stayed in the remaining one with 2 dogs. Prior to our trip, she was very helpful in passing all useful information including directions and options for preparing our house (the bed configuration, whether we want her to provide food ingredients for cooking etc). She also offered recommendations to restaurants around the area, and helped us to book for a truffle hunting tour which we enjoyed tremendously (more on that later in a separate post). Most restaurants here don't have email, and many people don't speak English, so her assistance in getting things sorted out for us was much appreciated. And turned out we loved all her suggestions.

From Milan it's a good 2 hours drive once you get past the downtown traffic. We picked up the car after lunch and managed to reach the house in the evening, just before the sun completely set. Giovanna was already expecting us as we arrived and unloaded our luggage, and she's very patient in explaining everything inside the house. Turned out we were her first group of visitors from Asia! We stayed in the bigger unit of the two, with two ensuite bedrooms upstairs each with a balcony opening up to the vineyard, plus another bedroom on the ground floor. It also came with a well-equipped kitchen with a good set of cooking appliances and utensils, a cozy living room with dining table, a fireplace, built-in oven and washing machine. We decided not to take up Giovanna's offer of pre-stocking the fridge with breakfast items, but it's something worth considering if you want to save time from buying your own grocery. Both floors have separate heating and we found that very useful - at the time we were there by night it does get quite cold. Bathrooms were simple but clean, and the beds were comfortable - Giovanna did take good care of the property and made sure everything's in order.

She also kept a website which provided all the useful information about the property - and we found that the photos and video shown on the site pretty much reflected the reality - you know, sometimes pictures can be deceiving. So that did give us additional peace of mind before we came. And we loved playing with her 2 dogs which were friendly and cute!

Location could be a little remote for some - don't even consider the place if you are not planning to drive, and even if you do, the last kilometer from the main road to the house could be a challenge for some, especially in the dark, with narrow and winding paths past the steep slopes and vineyards without any street lights. And the GPS inside our rental car didn't quite point to the right spot, so for the first few times we almost got lost - so be careful. But the view from the house was spectacular with the vineyards and beautiful Langhe hills right from our windows. Around the house there's barbecue facilities for the warmer weather, and there's also a little garden where Giovanna grew her own vegetables and fruits. She even left us a big basket of ripe apples as a welcome present, along with 2 wines from a nearby winery.

But overall it's a lovely place that we won't hesitate to recommend to anyone making a stop in the area. Now I still dream about the gorgeous sunset view with light beaming through the multi-colored autumn leaves at the vineyard with the beautiful landscape in the backdrop - the very view that left us a great, and lasting first impression of the place on the day of our arrival.

Web: www.cascinabricchetto.it

(This is the part of the Journey to Piedmont series, a writing project capturing our recent travel experiences to the region)

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