May in Piemonte – Castles, Cycling and Cherries

We apologise for the dearth of communications of late, but as we are drawing near to the end of our time in Monforte (purtroppo!!), life has been a little hectic.

Monforte Cherries

In short, over the past month we visited a couple of castles, dodged hail in Saluzzo, watched ‘il Giro’ as it passed Monforte (just doing our bit to create cycling fans out of Master T and Master S), ate Gelati in a dozen different towns, picked the first cherries of the summer, had Grandpa M come to visit and I rode up a mountain…Just your regular, garden variety month in Piemonte!!

To bring you up to speed, we thought we would give you a quick rundown on some of the highlights.

i Castelli dei Piemonte

Racconigi Castle

Piemonte is littered with castles and palaces that were formerly the Savoy’s (Italy’s royal family until they were run out of town in the 1940s).

The Court of Savoy resided in Turin for four centuries and the Royal Family built copious amounts of Summer Residences and Hunting Palaces, plus the odd Castle or two for the various in-laws and mistresses.

The French Court of Versailles influenced most of the architecture and the palaces and grounds are simply spectacular. We visited a few over the past six weeks but for us the highlight was the Castle of Racconigi.

Racconigi was one of the Savoy’s official residences and was being lived in when the family was exiled from Italy in 1946.

il Giro d’Italia

Some of the rooms have been left as they were when the family went into exile, while a considerable amount of effort has gone into restoring other parts of the castle with original furniture from previous periods.

Walking through the bedrooms, kids playroom and dining rooms gave a great sense of what castle life was like. The highlight for us though was the castle’s kitchen with its very own Pasticceria, Macelleria and Panetteria.

Sadly, we weren’t able to take photos inside the castle so you will have to take our word that it is well worth a visit if you are passing through.

il Giro d’Italia

Rider Presentation – Cherasco

In the same way that July in France is all about ‘Le Tour’, May in Italy is all about ‘il Giro’. This year, stage 13 of the Giro passed by the bottom of the Monforte hill and then, joy of joys, stage 14 started in Cherasco.

Given we would have travelled hundreds of kilometres to experience the Giro first hand, having two stages within 10 minutes of home was brilliant.

Seeing the organised chaos of the rider presentations and being within touching distance of Basso, Simoni, Cunego and Cavendish should hopefully go some way towards converting Master T and Master S to the religion of road cycling!

il Nonno Arriva

Piazza San Carlo

Finally, to cap off the month, Grandpa M arrived for a perfectly timed visit. Master T had spent the past six months planning a treasure hunt throughout Monforte for Grandpa’s arrival, and it was a special treat for all of us to be able to combine his first tour of our town with Master T’s very carefully planned route.

Three adults and two children in the little Clio was marginally tight but we still managed to visit Torino for a coffee in Piazza San Carlo, Bossolasco for a hot chocolate, Elio Grasso for a tour and some wine tasting, and La Morra for the spectacular view and some awesome Venchi gelati. Grandpa also crewed in the support vehicle (again, the reliable little Clio) as I rode up Colle dell’Agnello – currently one of my top five contenders for ‘Highlight of the Year’!

This was enough for a small taste of life in Piemonte and it was fantastic to be able to share our part of the world with Dad. In all, another adventure filled month in the Langhe.

Colle dell’Agnello

Colle dell’Agnello

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