Oh my. Things are not as close in Piedmont as they seem on the map. We spent A LOT of time in the car and I have to give our kiddo kudos as she was very patient. Gelato bribes are very helpful 🙂
We stayed near Acqui Terme in a lovely hotel called Villa Scati (we recommend it if you’re in the area). Picture above is of the hotel, not the houses! We had a list of about 10 houses to see in 3 days but when you have to drive 20+ minutes to get to each one, it makes it a bit more of a process.
We saw all sorts of houses. Several were listed as “minor refurbishments” which, in one case, meant missing a floor. Not the tile, the whole floor. Minor? Not my definition. We also some beautiful houses with gorgeous views, apple orchards, hazelnut groves, and slightly larger price tags.
What we quickly realized is that no matter what type of property you are looking at, there was always some work to be done. We didn’t want to be house-poor and get stuck mid-project compromising on what we really wanted due to cost or putting things that needed to be done on hold, waiting for the “right” time. After a lot of deliberation and debate, we made the decision that we would rather our house be something we could shape over time. A place that needed some love and maybe a lot of elbow grease, but a place that had good bones, great neighbors and a location that suited weekend visits. And we wanted all this in a house that was habitable as is. Of course. No problem.
We also discovered that Alba, conveniently, was having a truffle festival the weekend we were there. As it was only a short (40 minute) drive away, we through we would experience some truffles while in the area. Truth be told, I had never used or even held a truffle up to this point in my life. I had them in different dishes but never experienced them on their own. We figured we would buy a couple – why not? We found some cute small ones and paid 10 EUR for 3 truffles. They look like small knobby mud clumps (or poos as my daughter noted). Not very attractive but highly sought after, kinda like the Quentin Tarantino of pasta toppings. Since we were travelling I wasn’t headed home directly to cook something so needed something firm to carry them in so they wouldn’t squish or crumble or whatever they did. So I put them in my sunglasses case. Then we went to the airport and boarded the plane. As we sat there on a pretty warm plane in the afternoon sun, there was this smell. Kind of earthy, kind of mushroom-y, definitely stinky. Yep – my truffles emanating this stink from my bag beneath the seat in front of me. Good lord. Luckily, they turned the air on in the place and it faded, a bit. At least I could blame it on the truffles! I had to google what to do with these bad boys once we got back to London. The internet says you can keep them in rice to reduce moisture and all sorts of other reasons so we did that. A week or two later when we decided it was time to truffle, we found out this was not the best way to keep truffles. They had disintegrated from the inside out – not pretty. 10 EUR lesson learned. But you know I’m going to try again the next time the truffle festival comes around 🙂