A Walk in Nizza

Exploring history, food, and culture between the Belbo river and the vineyard hills of Monferrato

September 20, 2016
by Dave

Not your usual coffee: Bavareisa, Bicerin and Marocchino

Everybody knows Italy is the place to be if you like coffee. Italian tradition offers dozens of different variations on the common espresso. In Piedmont, three are typical – and here’s some information, and a few recipes.
Of the three, the most famous is called bicerin (sometimes written Bicerìn), and is closely connected with the other two.

jarmoluk / Pixabay

The Bicerin (pronounced [bitʃeˈriŋ] in Piedmontese dialect, literally “small glass”) is a historical hot drink served in Piedmontese bars and cafés.
The drink was first mentioned in Torino e i Torinesi, a book by Alberto Viriglio, published in 1898. In 2001, the drink was recognised as traditional Piedmontese drink, its new status published in the official literatuire of the regional council. Continue Reading →

September 13, 2016
by Dave

Hiking, first steps and common sense (a Guest Post)

While I like walking in the hills and enjoy the peace and tranquillity, I cannot call myself an expert, or a veteran of hiking.
guest-post-iconFor this reason, when I decided I’d like to do a basic introduction to one of the best ways to enjoy the countryside, I asked my friend Gianluca Santini for a guest post. Gianluca is an old friend, and he writes one of the best Italian blogs about hiking and walking in nature, Un Passo alla Volta, and its title, One Step at a Time nicely illustrates Gianluca’s attitude towards hiking. And you should check it out, using a translating service if necessary: it features a wealth of information and some wonderful itineraries in beautiful Sardinia (and other places too!)
Gianluca’s been so kind, he wrote a nice piece intended for anyone that was ever interested in hiking but maybe got a little wary, as it might seem much more complicated and daunting and expensive than it seems.
But it’s not, and here’s Gianluca’s post.
Enjoy! Continue Reading →

September 8, 2016
by Dave

Buy great travel books for cheap and help the National Parks Service

Here is just a quick heads-up for the opportunity to both bring home a lot of great books, and to help the National Parks Service on its 100th Anniversary.

The fine folks of Humble Bundle have teamed up with Lonely Planet to offer up to 17 travel books and guides for a tiny tiny offer.
For one buck, you get five great titles – and then you can upgrade.


Follow this link, and check out this offer.
There are still a few days before it closes.

September 6, 2016
by Dave

Italy in the Fall: practical advice

In the first part of this post, we’ve seen a few good reasons to visit the Italian countryside in the fall. And as some have pointed out in the comments, a long permanence in the countryside – in any season – might not be the ideal choice for everybody.
And of course it’s all right: some of us are urban animals, and love to visit strange new cities, and do a lot of street photography, or go shopping, or hit the night spots.
Some of us are not.
The Italian countryside in the fall is ideal for long walks, for enjoying the contact with Nature, and for hearty dinners in dimly-lit local taverns.

stevepb / Pixabay

stevepb / Pixabay

So, let’s check some practical issues. Continue Reading →

September 2, 2016
by Dave

Food: a Recipe Collection and a Newsletter

It can become an obsession, and hereabouts it is the focal point of events and celebrations. Food culture goes hand in hand with wine culture in Monferrato as anywhere else, and the Barbera vineyards of the Nizza territory and the Belbo Valley have a long tradition of good, hearty food.
So we put together a small booklet to give you an idea of what you could find on our table for a Sunday family lunch. Nothing really fancy, nothing too complicated: some appetizers, a first course, a second course, a selection of cheeses, a dessert.
And some suggestions about the wines to go with that.

Enjoy the local food: download A Simple Lunch in Monferrato

To download A Simple Lunch in Monferrato, click on the image below.
You will be asked to join our occasional Newsletter – we thought we might need a fast and non-intrusive way to stay in touch with our readers and share the news that do not fit on the blog.

It will be a low-intensity newsletter – we won’t flood your mailbox. And it goes without saying – but we will say it anyway – that we hate spam just as you do, and we won’t be selling your data.

So, join our Newsletter, and enjoy your food!



September 1, 2016
by Dave

The land is dreary: fighting off countryside depression

Commenting on the post about planning a weekend in the countryside, The Walking Map (great blog, check it out), said:

Bringing a book is an obvious one, but I love the suggestion about using public transit. My blog focuses on that, but I still think the country is boring. It’s nice to drive through and take a few pics, but the isolation is too much for me.

It’s too much for me, too, sometimes: the weekends can be particularly hard, as far as I am concerned.

Skitterphoto / Pixabay

This comes, probably, from the fact that I grew up in a big industrial city – Turin – but also spent time in London and Paris. Such places are always alive with people, events, lights, noise. Growing up in such places, crowd and bustle become normal.
Then you move to the country, and all of a sudden there is only silence.
The people are nice but guarded, and if you come from outside, you are just that, an outsider. Continue Reading →

August 30, 2016
by Dave

Visiting Italy? Learn the language, for free!

When traveling, a little linguistic knowledge can take you a long way.

discussing bananas

The **Open University**, through MOOC platform **Futurelearn** offers a **free** basic course in Italian.

Italian for Beginners 1: Meeting, Greeting and Eating

As described on the course site, this 4 weeks online course will let you

  • order snacks and drinks in a café;
  • greet people and introduce yourself and others;
  • talk about where you live and where you come from;
  • talk about the languages you speak;
  • talk about what you do.

Not bad, right?
The course starts on September the 5th, it is completely free, and it’s highly recommended.

For the uninitiated, MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course – you will be learning Italian together with thousands of other students: you’ll be able to compare notes, make new friends and who knows, get some ideas for future trips.


August 30, 2016
by Dave

Plotting the perfect countryside weekend – part 1

Many say that the countryside is a nice place to visit, but living there is hell – and having spent a few years here in the wine hills of the Monferrato, sometimes I feel like I’d agree.
Country living has a lot of positive elements: slow rhythms, quiet, healthy food, physical activity, the fact that one is a few steps away from the fast urban life- off the web, cell phone turned off…
And yet, each and every positive trait of country living can become a problem: boredom, the sense of isolation, the lack of hi-tech…
It is really all just a matter of finding one’s bearings, and yet, it can be heavy.

country girl

But a weekend once in a while?
Ah, that’s something else altogether.
So, while I plan not one, but two great weekends here in Monferrato, and get ready to share them with you, here’s a few general thoughts on countryside weekends.
And before we start – I’d be happy to read your countryside weekend tips… the comments are open! Continue Reading →