|This is the LITTLE village where Ivana's Inn is located|
|A window of one of the apartments from the|
front of the building
|Our sitting/dining area|
|The view from the balcony|
|Andrew and his favorite wine maker - Stephania|
from Stroppiana vineyards (and Ivana's sister!)
|The oak barrels at Stroppiana|
|He looks right at home with the big barrels huh?!|
|Touring around the Piedmont region - La Morra Italy|
|View from La Morra|
|Emma and Adam enjoying the view|
|We couldn't find lunch in LaMorra so we opted for|
dessert instead! - cannoli - yum!
|The gorgeous landscape of Piedmont Italy|
|We found some lunch! Pizza - in Italy!|
|The kids decided that it's the best pizza they've ever eaten!|
|Erbaluna Winery-LaMorra Italy|
|Very interesting cellar with a special story told below|
|We had a wonderful tasting!|
|Nathan enjoyed it too!|
|More of the Piedmont landscape|
|Gelato anyone??? :) - Alba Italy|
|Cattedrale di San Lorenzo - Just after the funeral of |
Pietro Ferraro (47 yrs.) - CEO of the Ferrero Group Holding Co.,
Producer of Nutella and Tic Tacs
|The world headquarters of Ferrero Corp.|
|A beautiful statue in a church in Alba Italy|
|Andy asked the nice folks at Rolex if they could fix the|
band on his $5.00 watch that he bought at the Arles
Market - unfortunately, they didn't have the right part.
Our visit to the Piedmont region of Italy was pretty special. The decision to go to Piedmont was based on our meeting a wine maker, Stephania Stroppiana, who came to Canton in November to help market her wines around the U.S. When Andy told her that we would be in France for six months and would try to stop by her winery, she suggested that we stay at her sister's "Inn" if we do make the trip. So, because all of the places we checked on our route to Tuscany were booked due to the school holidays, we decided to go the one hour out of our way and visit Stephania and her sister, Ivana. The reservation was made and Andrew e-mailed Stephania to let her know that indeed, we were coming to Piedmont!
Due to all of our stops along the way, we didn't make it to our destination until 11:00 pm on Wednesday April 26. Ivana's Inn is tucked in the tiny little village of Monforte D'Alba - population = less than 100! We were able to follow the directions that Andrew was given until we were just outside the village - at that point, we decided to call for help. By some miracle, between the broken cell phone reception in the mountains, Ivana's broken English and our lack of Italian we were able to communicate that we were, in fact, close, but didn't know where to go from where we were. Ivana said that she would come and find us to lead us in, however, after about 20 minutes and no sign of Ivana, we called back - and it was good that we did! Ivana couldn't find us so we changed locations and she sent her husband to find us, which he did, and led us to the beautiful Inn. Ivana greeted us, showed us to our "apartments" (bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, sitting/dining room/ balcony) - the kids had one and Andrew and I had our own - The place was wonderful, we enjoyed everything about it!
On Thursday, Andrew walked into town to get some breakfast for everyone - he returned with a couple of yogurts, some rolls and fruit --- and amazingly, espresso in a dixie cup for me! The town only had about 6 buildings so he was very limited but did find a small grocery store. We are so used to boulangeries in France that I guess we assumed that they would be in Monforte D'Alba as well - no such luck! After preparing for the day and collecting the kids, we were off to Stroppiana Winery for a visit with Stephania.
We found Stroppiana with very little difficulty between 10:00 and 10:30 am and were greeted by Stephania's 17 year old son Leonardo and her mother in law. When Stephania came around the corner and hugs were given all around! We were taken to a simple and comfortable tasting room where we found a long wooden table with bottles of wine, glasses and a large bowl of hazelnuts. After visiting for a little while and learning about Stephania's family, the bottles were opened and the tasting began! The kids were very patient and after a few minutes, were offered Chocolate! Stephania walked over to a large closet and grabbed several large bars, opened them up, cracked them apart, and the kids were smiling! Stephania told us that Leonardo may be visiting the states and helping Claudia (their representative in the U.S.) with marketing - we told him that if he comes to Canton, he has a place to stay and tour guides :) -- We visited with Stephania and Leonardo for about an hour and then Stephania arranged another tasting for us at Erbaluna Winery, down the road in La Morra, at 2:30. On our way out, Stephania's husband and daughter arrived, we were introduced, pictures were taken and we were off!
Our original plan to visit Bra Italy was nixed after Stephania and Leonardo explained that there really isn't anything there - so, although Emma and I were excited to have our picture taken in Bra, we opted to not visit the town. We did, however, take a pix in front of a "Bra" sign. Upon Stephania and Ivana's suggestion, we stopped in the town of La Morra for a look around and some lunch. Unfortunately, a lot of the restaurants were closed so we got some canoli to hold us until we found something more "lunchlike", which we did in the next little town, Garibaldi - pizza :) They were delicious and hit the spot.
Erbaluna winery is in a beautitul setting on a hillside with vineyards all around in La Morra Italy. The lady who conducted the tasting was informative, fun and explained the reason for all of he dusty wine bottles in the pictures above: Whenever a new child is born into the family, a case or two of wine from that year is saved until that child's 18th birthday at which time, at the celebration, the wine is opened and enjoyed! What a fantastic tradition! The wine was great, Nathan enjoyed it too - we liked everything we tasted, bought several bottles, met some German folks outside who where heading in for a tasting as well, and were on our way once more. (and today I discovered that Erbaluna wine is available at Astor Wine shop in NYC! - I stumbled upon that bit of info. when researching the town that the winery is actually in for this post-Astor ships to North Canton!)
Next stop: Alba Italy. Stephania and Ivana suggested that we visit Alba and both warned us to NOT go until later in the afternoon due to the funeral of the CEO of the Ferrero Corp., maker of Nutella. When we arrived, many of the stores were closed and 99% of the shop/restaurant windows held a photograph of a gentleman who we assumed, must be running for some kind of public office. Soon, however, we realized that it was the CEO who had died - the town loved him which was evidenced not only by the number of photographs, but also by the number of bleachers/speakers etc.... that were being dismantled and loaded into trucks from the funeral mass which was held in the church (pix above) with the crowd spilling into the square outside. When we arrived home I checked the internet and found that Pietro Ferraro had died suddenly while biking in Capetown South Africa.
The kids enjoyed some gelato and we did enjoy walking around Alba for awhile, then headed back to the Inn to relax before a wonderful dinner at a beautiful little restaurant which was tucked down a hill, around a corner, behind some vines - I really don't know how people find these restaurants! The restaurant was a suggestion from Ivana again, and I'm glad that we went - dinner was delicious! The next day we were driving to Tuscany and making some stops along the way.