When I told people I would be going on holiday to Italy in December people looked at me with surprise. They didn’t give me the usual envy stare you so often get when you talk about going on vacation. Instead, I got a “I bet it will rain and you’ll be cold” pity glance.
It did rain on me and I was cold occasionally too, but I didn’t mind the slightest. I went through Milan, Parma, Siena, Florence and Alba without so much a tourist group stepping on my toes. Have you been to the Uffizi galleries? Did you queue much? I didn’t, I walked straight in.
So there you go, it’s a fact that going to Italy during low-season is a swell move. In Alba, however, it was high season for white truffles. And the Italian and I were in the midst of it. We stayed in a wonderfully quiet hotel, complete with its own vineyards and views all the way to the Alps.
Serralunga D’Alba isn’t close to anything however, so we had to reach nearest village, town and city by car to sample anything. Or even better, I forced the Italian to hop on a bike (mind you, this is Tour de France hills) to go for lunch.
Red-faced and panting we entered the local restaurant and was met by laughter. They knew the way back was far worse, as we mostly had been going downhill. I didn’t mind being the crazy blonde on a bike when I had my first bite of homemade spaghetti with truffle shavings. Simple does it.
We went twice to that restaurant, The Italian was infatuated with the truffles. If he ever leaves me, it would be for a bowl of pasta. The Italian drank their locally produced wine, Barolo of course and I tried both an artichoke crepe and the guinea fowl.
The landscape, the quiet villages and the outline of the Alps in the background made me a sound person again. I forgot about the tube and content creation. I drank local wine and walked amongst the vineyard and discovered that Barolo vines like to grow in clay and sand. And I had one of the most memorable meals this year in the form of Egg Cocotte at La Rei, a 1-star Michelin restaurant. It’s a traditional soufflé-like dish made with egg, cream, white truffle and fried bread crumbs, served and stirred as a velvety soup. Unexpected and wonderful is the only way of describing it. The Italian ate the best pasta of his life – spaghetti with king crab, spring onion and chives.
Not a bad end to the run up to Christmas.