Our 4-days full immersion into Piemonte Region (in the North-West side of Italy, Turin is the major city), started in Vercelli, 50 minutes away from Milan. Piemonte is called Piedmont in English, but we prefer to call it in the original Italian way.
We started at Di Lab Café
, a place that is a mix between a café, a restaurant and a laboratory where the food is all made gluten free. You could think there is not much flavour into gluten free food: wrong! You should try these specialties!! They look but also taste amazing!
Our exploration of Piemonte continued towards the countryside of Vercelli, in a magic place where Acquerello Rice is made, at Tenuta Torrone della Colombara.
MariaNava welcomed us in a very warm and friendly way. She and her family are managing the production and the whole "tenuta" / farm.
She immediately showed us her true passion for rice production and for how much this magic place is well preserved years after years for many purposes, first of all for education.
The farm is really a huge construction made of many different buildings that in the past used to host farmers families, like in a little village, and the "mondine", the women who used to come from different parts of Italy to work during the harvesting months from April till September each year. They were all women. A true example of emancipation for those years.
In the following pictures you can see how their school, their houses, their kitchens and bedrooms looked like. Everything is preserved as it was around 1950s. It's not a museum, it's real! And it's very touching.
Very proud of our mondine of those years! Beautiful strong women who first aspired to independency!
Three years ago Riso Acquerello got the patent to be the exclusive producer of their very special type of rice: it's a half way between white rice (complete of germ & surrounding film) and brown rice (where the germs and all fibres are removed).
The advantage of white rice
is that it cooks earlier while the advantage of brown one is that it preserves all the fibres and it's healthier. Thanks to Riso Acquerello you can cook the rice as fast as white one, preserving all their benefits and fibres. It's the ONLY RICE in the world who has these characteristics!
Time to celebrate the great afternoon together with MariaNava and the great group of people who work to produce Riso Acquerello and to make of this place a really magic one, where time seems to have stopped and where education for food and production has priority.
The first day ends with the pleasure of meeting Chef Angelo Silvestro from Da Balin Restaurant
who shows us how Riso Acquerello can be cooked in 2 ways: with different types of tomato and slices of ricotta over, and with pumpkins and nuts. Delicious!!
Restaurant Balin is another special place, made with the heart of an entire family working there with their true passion for the land where they live and the local products.
We spend the night staying at Borgo Ramezzana
, a beautiful country house totally renewed with very beautiful rooms with a view over the rice fields around. Biella
is our second destination, where we explore the pretty clean and bourgeoise city center. There is a down side Biella and a upper side Biella (oldest center up on the hill where you can get by car or by cable railways like in Lisbon or Bergamo).
Biella territory pays lot of attention to the promotion of local businesses and ideas. We had the pleasure to see a lot of shops in the center selling local made artisanal products. Thanks-Thx
concept store is one of those who collects the most fashionable ones. Mosca Gastronomia
shop is mandatory for the local food lovers: it's a huge shop selling all the possible specialties of the territory of a very high quality. It's a sort of Eataly predecessor.
We stopped by Caffè Del Teatro
, a very old cafè in the center, where we could experience the production of the delicious brioches and cakes prepared for us.
We had lunch at Matteo Caffè e Cucina
, elegant small restaurant next to the renewed square where the main Cathedral is located.
In the afternoon we visited the oldest part of Biella up on the hill: the view is really great from there.
Biella and its territory is famous for the production of cachemire and wool. There is a district of wool production and one of the most famous textiles producers in the area is Piacenza 1733
, that we visited.
Since 1733, Piacenza produces textiles for the biggest haute couture and fashion companies. Their biggest clients are Valentino, Dior, Luis Vuitton, Chanel etc... It was really impressive and educational to see the whole textiles production processes since the raw materials to finished product.
And now comes the best part of our days in Piedmont: sleeping in this hidden villa in Pollone, Villa La Vittoria
, managed by an adorable couple of locals who totally renewed the villa few years ago and brought it back to its old amenities.
There are no words to describe the taste, elegance and beauty of details at this villa, we leave you watching the pictures and we invite you to just go and stay there for one night.
One of the most romantic places we've ever been!
The following day we moved to Novara
, closest to Milan, a beautiful city with a lot of history. The cathedral is majestic, outside and inside, with one the highest towers in Europe that can be climbed till the upper point and have a spectacular view of the city.
Among the food specialties of the city, there are Camporelli
, simple traditional biscuits born there since 1852.
The main old shopping streets are the following: Corso Cavour, Corso Italia and Via Fratelli Rossetti, where you can also find the beautiful square Piazza dei Martiri della Libertà.
We had the pleasure to go visiting two family-driven businesses in the country-side of Novara, one focusing on the rice production (Cascina Canta
) and another one in the meat production (Cascina La Fontana Fratelli Ferrari
). It was great to see where the really good products of our Made In Italy come from, with the passions of the families driving them.
We suggest to stay at Hotel Cavour
, a simple and clean 4* Hotel in front of the train station and 5 minutes walking from the center.
We are looking forward to come back to Piedmont land, there is so much to experience and visit!
Thanks for having us and...see you soon!