Posted by: Debra Kolkka | May 4, 2023

Piemonte in spring

My previous visits to Piemonte have been in autumn. I was keen to see the Langhe district, famous for its wine and food, in spring. We based ourselves in Alba (see previous post) and visited several towns in the hills surrounding the town.

We began our first day of exploring in nearby Bra where we went many years ago, part of a Slow Food event.  Bra is the birthplace of the Slow Food movement which has spread widely since its inception. Carlo Petrini took the Piemonte passion for the land and the wine and food it produces and introduced it to the world.

The architecture in Bra is a mix of Renaissance, Baroque and more recent styles.

We wanted to have our morning coffee at the oldest cafe in town, Antico Caffe Boglione, but we found it closed.

We did not go hungry, there was an excellent pasticceria and cafe nearby, on the corner of the street.

We didn’t stay long in Bra as many things were not open. I was sorely tempted by this Karl Lagerfeld sponge holder. I think I can live without it, just.

From Bra we went on to Cherasco, only 9 kilometres away. The street and footpath on the edge of town are lined with plane trees in their spring coats…Viale dei Platani. It reminded me of Lucca.

Cherasco was built in the 13th century on the site of a Roman fortress. Now it is a pretty town with interesting architecture.

We walked in through one of the old entrances.

There was a market in town in the morning.

The tiny town is famous for snails and chocolate making, an odd mix. Thankfully we didn’t find chocolate covered snails, but we did try both.

We came upon this wonderful chocolate shop soon after arriving in town and bought a fine selection.

We had booked for lunch in a recommended restaurant, Osteria della Rosa Rossa.

The food was excellent. I admit to eating snails and, as much as I hate to say it, frog, both of which were delicious. Snails are bred in this area to eat and their slime is used in speciality creams…more on that later. First lunch.

We tracked down a place to buy snail skin care products. We went into the pharmacy to find a woman holding court while her stoic husband stood mute beside her. We waited for 10 minutes for her to stop talking to the assistant about Napoleonic wars and her ideas for increasing tourism in the town.

We went off looking for somewhere else but after 15 minutes gave up and returned to the pharmacy where she was still going and her husband was still looking on. I made my way past them to the counter and tried to look interested in the products, but this achieved nothing. I eventually stood between the woman and the assistant, but it was another 10 minutes before the assistant interrupted the conversation to serve me.

I left the shop with 3 products and the woman resumed her conversation. I wanted to kick her in the shins on the way out.

Just in case you were wondering, the slime is collected in a way that does not harm the snail. The slime (lovely word) is said to be rich in antioxidants, collagen, elastin, peptides and vitamins. I will let you know if my skin is rejuvenated.

We left town laden with chocolates and snail skin care.

Next stop was La Morra, which I particularly liked on my last visit. We parked the car at the bottom of the hill and walked up, past the church with the old campanile, to the piazza which overlooks the countryside below.



Almost nothing was open in town so we moved on to Barolo. Very little was happening here, but Jim found Marchesi di Barolo, a winery in the centre of town. I was content to check out the shop in front and take a wander through the town. It is covered in my post from 2019 when it was more alive…Autumn in Piemonte

Marchesi di Barolo.

Barolo castle.

We began the next day at the Grinzane Cavour castle. It is the only castle in the area, there are many, that is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It dates back to the 12th or 13th century.

We walked past the church on the way up to the castle.

It is extremely well kept. There is a terrace around the bottom of the castle that is lined with story boards of the grape vines growing below the castle.

There are wonderful views from the castle.

You can do tours inside the castle but we opted to look at the huge cellar full of goodies.

Then it was upstairs for coffee in the gorgeous cafe.

We had to drag ourselves away from this heavenly spot to go to another one, Serralunga d’Alba, with a medieval castle of its own.


The castle was not open, but the views from the grounds are excellent.

Next stop was Fontanafredda, a historic property that once belonged to Vittorio Emanuele II. His son started the business in 1878. Today Fontanafredda belongs to the association Vino Libero, a group of 12 wine producers and 1 distillery. The property is stunning. It is possible to stay at Fontanafredda in 3 types of accommodation.


The sales area is excellent.

There is an adjacent restaurant.

Pasta was made while we watched.

Lunch seemed like a good idea.

There were 2 wineries we particularly wanted to visit, Glicine, in Neive and Vietti in Castiglione Falletto. Glicine was closed and the assistant at Vietti sent us to the shop in town, pity.

Here is the post I wrote about these special wineries…Two excellent wineries in the Langhe district

Spring is lovely in Piemonte as it is all over Italy. I did prefer my autumn visit. The autumn colours are divine and the misty days make the scenery even more beautiful. The towns are actually more lively in autumn with the truffle festivals and other fun events. I will return in October in future. http://Autumn in Piemonte


  1. Thank you Debra, for this excellent tour of parts of Piemonte. Lovely photos and interesting narration.

    • It is a beautiful area and the towns are quite close together making it easy to see a lot of them.

  2. How lucky are you to be living in Italy & to be able to spend time exploring all these wonderful places. Loved all the photos but some made me extremely hungry. PS Hope the snail skin care products were worth the wait & your determination to get attention.

    • The reason we bought our apartment here 20 years ago is so we can spend lots of time exploring Italy. Australia is so far away! I think I have the best of both worlds.

  3. What an incredible tour you have given us!! AND now I am thinking of snails crawling about the restaurant with little trays of chocolates! Oh Debra! This was lovely.

    • We had a fun visit to Piemonte. I think the highlight was coffee in that gorgeous castle.

  4. I never thought someone would have the idea of incorporating snail’s slime into the local cuisine. But since I love snails, I wouldn’t mind trying the slime.

    • The slime is used in skin care, which I am yet to try. The poor snails were delicious.

      • Ahh okay then. I thought it was also used in food.

  5. So many lovely villages to visit … you may need another lifetime to get through them Deb.

    • Yes, too many to see in one lifetime. Another problem is that I like to revisit places I really like.

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