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Published: October 29th 2007
J's Traditional Dinner
In reading order: small appetizer, cold raw ground veal, ricotta crepe, veal tortelloni, roast beef with polenta and carrots, wine poached pear and cinammon gelato.
As we have mentioned in the past, driving distances in Europe are deceptively short and so our journey from Monaco to Serralunga d'Alba, Italy took nearly 3 hours. We rolled into the tiny town in pitch black darkness, following signs through turn after turn from the highway as the road became smaller and smaller. It was not unlike driving to Gourdes, where we could see lights dotting various hilltops across the blackness. We checked into our B&B and walked next door for a fabulous dinner (see photos).
Once again, we went to sleep anticipating an amazing vista upon awakening, and we were not disappointed. Opening the front door to the house was like stepping into a different life - one of golden light, row upon row of grapes growing, cobblestone streets, and castles near and far. Our hostess runs the house entirely on her own. It used to be a kindergarden, hence the name, Antico Asilo
. Her parents own the building and gave her brother the top floor, where he lives with his family, and Elena the bottom floor which she has transformed into the B&B. There are 4 rooms, each with bathroom, a lovely breakfast room, and a terrace. She
has lovingly restored each room herself - from the painted walls to the bed linens and artwork. It is truly a gem. She prepared a huge breakfast spread for us, the only guests, including cereals, yogurts, sweetbreads, assorted cheeses, meats, and breads.
With a population of only 550, everyone knows everyone in Serralunga d'Alba! There is no school, so children go to the nearby larger towns of Barolo and Alba. There is no high speed internet access in the village. The streets were very quiet during the day, quite peaceful actually. We bid Elena farewell and walked uphill to the castle. This is no Neuschwanstein but a real medieval castle dating back to the 1200s!! A large tour group had just left when we arrived, so we had a private tour from the caretaker, an elderly lady who spoke little English. The castle was inhabited over the years by the army for defense mainly. There is a drawbridge at the entry, an iron gate that comes down, and large bars that can be placed across the door to deter entry by intruders. There is even a false ceiling, a last resort hiding place should the castle be stormed! There
are 3 towers - round, square, and suspended. The top floor was originally uncovered, but now has a wooden roof. The soldiers would keep track of their time there by scratching the days into the stone walls. There are also doodles of shields, etc. throughout the castle. We were impressed at every turn, but especially by the fantastic view of the surrounding hills and valleys from the top. On nearly each visible hill there is another castle or large church. The family who owned this castle owned a total of 15 others in the surrounding area, and used them to defend their land from neighboring families.
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