The Langhe is a series of ridges that stretch north-south (Langhe literally means ‘strips of land’ – imagine ancient fingers of land that stretch up from the Ligurian Coast) and are spaced by deep valleys.
This means there are few lateral links from West to East and as a result, despite the fact that our destination was less than 50kms away as the crow flies, the drive was more than 100kms.
Visiting the thermal spas of Acqui Terme has been on our ‘to-do’ list since we first began to research places to live during our 12 months, and came across an article on a slow-food website extolling its virtues.
The thermal spas were first recorded more than 2150 years ago by the Romans, but were discovered well before then. At some point in the 2nd Century BC the Romans established a trading centre called Acqui Statielli, and the ancient baths were built sometime thereafter. The Thermal Spa achieved some degree of fame through the Roman Empire (Pliny the Elder references them in his writings) but that is possibly enough history for this post!
It is a pretty town but, on a day that was 3 degrees at midday, we were more interested in the thermal spring itself. The water bubbles to the surface in the centre of the old town (in Piazza Bollente if you are inclined to visit) and is framed by a little pavilion designed by Giovanni Ceruti in 1870.
The water flows at 500L per minute and at a temperature of 75 degrees, and is said to have all sorts of healing properties. I hadn’t thought about the fact that it is a sulfur spring when, following the lead of a couple of other visitors, I took a sip. Acqui Terme is well worth a visit, but I’d recommend skipping the taste test – just dip your hand in the spring to test its properties!
From Acqui Terme we drove across country (Karen has shown an inclination toward finding the smallest and most random goat tracks and insisting that we follow them) to Novi Ligure.
The town has an interesting history resulting from its position at the confluence of the trading routes between the Ligurian Coast and the Po Valley.
It is also home to the Museo dei Campionissimi or the ‘Champions of Champions of the Pedal’, which was the reason for our visit. The Museum is dedicated to two great Italian riders that were from the area, Fausto Coppi and Constant Girandengo.
Between them, the Palmares of these two (indulge me here…) include 2 Tour de France victories, 7 Giro d’Italias and 9 Milan-San Remo wins.
There is also an interesting display that shows the development of the bike from Leonardo da Vinci’s original sketch to the bikes used today. For me it was a buzz and the boys and Jo were very accommodating of my geeky enthusiasm!
And for completeness we do note that the Italians do Outlet Villages exceptionally well!