These past three weeks we’ve taken something of a holiday – a staycation if you will – as we’ve welcomed a constant succession of visitors, all eager to get stuck into the Piemonte way of life. And what kind of hosts would we be if we didn’t join them?
We’ve eaten at some of our favourite restaurants – Locanda Fontanazza in La Morra and L’Angolo di Rosina in Novello to name but two – tasted outstanding wines with Osvaldo Viberti and Stra, skied among muddy fields at Sauze d’Oulx and Bardonecchia, walked and cycled through the vineyards, played a lot of golf and stayed up late talking rubbish and drinking grappa one too many times.
If there’s one thing guaranteed to make you fall even more in love with where you live it’s showing eager visitors around and listening to them rhapsodise about how much they’ve enjoyed it. And if there’s one thing guaranteed to break you, it’s staying up late drinking grappa one too many times. But the less said about that the better.
The highlights are too many to mention, but a particular standout was a wine tasting with Osvaldo Viberti. We’ve been trying to visit Osvaldo and his wife, Carla, for almost two years, ever since we fell in love with their Nebbiolo at a restaurant in La Morra, but for various reasons it’s never quite worked out.
Finally though, we made it. And it was worth the wait. Osvaldo welcomed us and our wine-loving Australian friends into their home and proceeded to open eight bottles for us to taste, including three sublime Barolos. Our friends, more used to visiting large Australian wineries, were blown away by the opportunity to sit down with the winemaker himself, in his home, and chat for several hours. The wine spoke for itself, but Osvaldo is a charming, interesting man and a wonderful host.
Now we’re finally back to just the three and a half of us (Otto’s the half, in case you were wondering) we’ve been getting stuck into the renovations again. This week plaster is being liberally sprayed over every available centimetre of wall, while next week the cement will go down to make the floors. It’s progressing nicely and really starting to look like a home now.
The progress is leading me into a bit of a personal conflict though… As I alluded to earlier, it’s been a very warm, sunny winter so far. This means plaster and cement are able to dry very quickly, which is obviously great news for us. But it also means no snow in the mountains. For someone who spends the whole of spring, summer and autumn looking forward to winter this is really quite upsetting. Every evening I sit down and study various snow forecasts and weather models, praying that something might head our way. And then I remember that we really don’t want that. But I do. But we don’t. But… you get the picture.