Planning your trip - some ideas

On the Local Area page, there are plenty of ideas for activities and experiences to make a truly memorable trip to Piemonte. See below for ideas for days out. In addition, there are a few of our personal recommendations with links.

 

Recommended day trips;

 

Things to do in Turin

Reached in one hour by car, Turin (Torino) nestled next to the magnificent Alps is the second largest city in Italy and an amazing place to visit for it’s museums, architecture, restaurants, shops and markets. A few of the recommended destinations are;

 

  • Duomo di San Giovanni Battista – a vast and highly important 15th century cathedral containing the Turin Shroud.
  • Il Polo Reale Torino – a huge and magnificent visitor complex of historical buildings containing the Galleria Sabauda – Italy’s foremost collection of Savoyard art, the Royal Palace, Royal Armoury, Royal Library with hundreds of drawings by Leonardo Da Vinci and the Archaeological Museum with it’s collection of Roman artefacts, all set in magnificent formal gardens. With one-ticket entry to all areas, this amazing cultural experience could take a day on it’s own.
  • Castello di Rivoli – a large and beautiful museum of contemporary art set just outside the centre of Turin in a restored 11th century castle with a collection to rival any in Europe.
  • Museo Egizio – said to be the largest Egyptian collection in the world, the Turin Egyptian Museum is well worth a visit, and contains an entire Tomb among the many thousands of exhibits.
  • Museo dell’automobile – as the car manufacturing capital of Italy, Turin had to have a major automobile museum. This one has hundreds of exhibits for the petrol-head, dating from the 18th century to the present day.
  • Mole Antonelliana and National Cinema Museum - the skyline of Turin is dominated by the square-domed roof of the Mole Antonelliana, which has a glass lift that whisks you to the top for an amazing view of the city in 85 seconds. At the same time you can enjoy visiting the National Cinema Museum, which is housed in the same building and takes an interactive (including in English language) look at the history of cinema.
  • Reggia di Venaria – Almost unheard of outside Italy, this is the spectacular Italian answer to the palace of Versailles and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Built in the 17th century by the Savoy King, this huge palace and gardens has been painstakingly restored and if you love either palatial buildings or stunning formal gardens then this is for you. A great place to take a picnic too.
  • Markets – the Mercato di Porta Palazzo is a huge daily food, clothes and general goods market, open every morning until 1.30 and Saturday all day. Behind the Porta Palazzo is the Balon, an antiques and flea market open every Saturday, and the Gran Balon (much bigger) every second Sunday of the month. There is also an excellent designer clothes market for genuine bargains every morning at the Mercato Della Crocetta (see more below).
  • Restaurants – Tripadvisor lists nearly 3000 restaurants in Turin, so you will have plenty of choice. The Slow Food Movement is very strong in this area so high quality ingredients, locally sourced and cooked to perfection are the order of the day.
  • Eataly – in celebration of the Slow Food movement, this emporium of Italian delicacies is both a food shopping and eating experience – all made by small artisan producers and a must for Foodies and just anyone who likes to eat.
  • Chocolate – Turin is the true home of Italian chocolate, in particular the local velvety speciality, Gianduiotto, made with local hazelnuts. In fact Turin is the home of Ferrero Rocher and Nutella brands, but the real high quality chocaholic’s delight is to be found at cafes like Al Bicerin on Piazza Consolata (Bicerin is the local chocolate drink, melted chocolate, coffee and cream) and Guido Gobino near the Museo Egizio.
  • Sacra di San Michele – This 11th century monastery set high on a mountain top at the edge of the Alps is a spectacular place to visit and provided the inspiration for Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose.
  • Football fans may like to visit the Juventus Stadium where you can take a tour of the stadium and museum.
  • Designer Shopping – For bargains from the likes of Armani, Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, Gianfranco Ferrè, Gucci, Loro Piana, Prada and Valentino the market at Mercato Della Crocetta (mornings, 8.00am -2.00pm) is worth exploring and for the more expensive version the Via Roma houses all the top Italian designer stores.

 

Things to do in Genoa

The great Italian port of Genoa, founded in the 6th century between the mountains and the sea and the birthplace of Christopher Columbus has many attractions for a day trip – it takes about 80 minutes by car (go via Ovada, another lovely town if you have time to stop off) and is well worth the drive. Some suggestions for your visit;

 

  • Centro Storico - Wander around the city centre, the largest in Europe, through cobbled alleyways lined with tall medieval and renaissance buildings, and take in the central square, Piazza de Ferrari.
  • Palazzi dei Rolli – a hint at Genoa’s rich and important past, these palaces (42 of them within a square mile in the City) are the homes of wealthy 16th century Genovese families made available for visiting dignitaries of the time. Named a UNESCO World Heritage site, Via Garibaldi is the location for 21 of these and you can look around the Palazzo Rosso, Palazzo Bianco and Palazzo Tursi all on one entry ticket.
  • At the port - Aquarium and maritime museum – great for a family trip, the Acquario di Genova is one of the larger ones in Europe, with thousands of sea creatures to see. Along the waterfront from here, the maritime museum (Galata Museo del Mare) shows the history of seafaring with many interactive exhibits to enjoy including an ancient galley ship and submarine.
  • These two attractions along with the small but beautiful Biosfera – a glass biosphere suspended over the water, the National Museum of Antarctica and the Renzo Piano-designed Bigo Panoramic lift - where you can get a 360 degree view of Genoa while suspended 40m above the sea, form the Acquariovillage centre built in the 2000s.
  • Cattedrale di San Lorenzo - Duomo di Genova – the central cathedral and a spectacular gothic edifice of black and white marble filled with marble stonework and sculptures.
  • Restaurants and food – the home of pesto, farinata (chick pea tarts), focaccia and a superb array of seafood, Genoa has over 1500 eating places to choose from and the Genovese love their food so quality is generally high with many local dishes to try.

 

A day at the beach

A day at the beach is a great way to add another dimension to your holiday at La Casa Pietra, especially if you have children. The Italian Riviera is only 70 minutes drive away; head for Savona where if you have time you should visit the Sistine Chapel (built by the same Pope as its more famous namesake in Rome), a Rococo-style chapel with a truly stunning interior.

 

From Savona you can reach a number of fine beaches – a favourite is at the village of Noli, a few kilometres west along the coast. Like most Italian beaches there are private and public sides, and most people pay to use the private areas which are clean, well supplied with loungers and umbrellas, have toilet facilities, children’s play equipment and a bar/restaurant.

 

A little further along the coast is Baia dei Saraceni near Varigotti, a small but delightful place with bar/café, and also Varigotti Beach, a little bigger and next to the small town of Varigotti.

 

Other recommended local places to visit

Acqui Terme is a beautiful and historical town 15 minutes away from La Casa Pietra by car. Settled in Roman times around two natural hot springs, Acqui is a very pleasant and interesting place to spend a couple of hours or a whole day. Some of the things to do in Acqui Terme are;

  • The hot spring in the town centre, La Bollente, is open to all and sited in a pretty square where just off the main pedestrianized shopping street. Try the sulphurous waters, which come out at about 75 degrees and are supposed to be good for your health.
  • The 10th century Cattedrale del Duomo is a large and imposing cathedral (lovely and cool inside on a hot day) with a very high quality medieval interior and artworks – the most famous being the triptychof the Madonna di Montserrat (the Annunciation to the Virgin of Montserrat) by the 15th century Spanish painter Bartolomé Bermejo.
  • For signs of the Roman city, visit the Roman Aqueduct (Acquedotto Romano), Roman Baths (La Piscina Romana) the remains of a fountain, theatre, amphitheatre and artisan workshop.
  • The archaeological museum adds more detail and fascinating artefacts to the story of the town, situated just behind the cathedral look for the Museo Archeologico di Acqui Terme.
  • Shopping – Acqui has a lovely central pedestrian shopping street, Corso Italia, but don’t miss out on the little side streets – artisan bakeries, independent shops with home-wares, shoes, designer clothes and jewellery are all waiting to be found. There are a number of supermarkets, from the huge Bennets on the edge of town to smaller ones in the centre. There is a busy and attractive food, clothes and home wares market here on Tuesday and Friday mornings. Fresh pasta, cheeses and meats are all superb here (see above under ‘shopping’).
  • Restaurants – we love Enoteca La Curia on the Via Alla Bollente for a real treat but there are many excellent restaurants in Acqui, try the pretty square Piazza Conciliazione where many have outside seating. Ice cream is also wonderful here – try one of the many Gelaterie after your lunch.

 

Also..

Canelli – the home of Asti Spumante sparkling wine – go on a tour of the huge Contratto cellars for a fascinating insight into the production of this world famous wine.

WWF Oasis Forteta Della Luja – this gorgeous small organic winery 10 minutes away is also a WWF butterfly and orchid sanctuary. Visit here for a walk or tour around the pretty gardens, spectacular views, wine tasting and nature.

Barbaresco – for amazing wine tours.

Alba – a larger town than Acqui Terme or Canelli, nice to visit and do a little shopping in the historical centre, or visit one of the many churches and have some lunch.