Although we love being in Gabiano, it’s also great to get out and explore the surrounding area, there are a number of really lovely towns within an hour of us, including Asti and Vercelli, both of which we’ve visited on previous trips.
For this visit however as time was limited, we decided not to travel too far, so this lead us to enjoy a day time wander in Moncalvo, and dinner one evening in Crescentino, towns which are less than 30 minutes from us.
Gelato and Flowers in Moncalvo
Moncalvo is somewhat larger than Gabiano, it has a population of around 3,300, compared to Gabiano’s 1,200. It’s somewhere that we’ve returned to a few times, mainly because it is home to what is probably our favourite restaurant in the region, a delightful Italian (what else!) called Corona Reale (Real Crown), which also happens to be the #1 restaurant in Moncalvo according to Trip Adviser. In fact, when I told Mel that I was going to mention Corona Reale in the blog, her exact words were “It’s the best in the world for me” – praise indeed! Sadly though, because this was a rare day time visit, we weren’t able to take advantage of the delicious pasta.
We were joined on our excursion by our friend Maria, and after parking the car near the town centre (for free!), we began our exploration, walking down the narrow streets before emerging in the central area, Piazza Garibaldi.
The Piazza is a large square of shops, cafes, restaurants, and the theatre shown in the first picture above. It is a place where the locals come to sit and chat, and generally enjoy life, in a way that Italians seem to do best.
As it was another very warm day, and we were in need of refreshment, so what better way than to stop for a delicious Gelato, or Ice Cream (although many Italians would say that Gelato is far superior to Ice Cream, and who am I to argue!).
In addition to enjoying a sunny walk around the town, we did have another motive to come to Moncalvo, that was was to visit another friend of our’s, Cristina, who owns a flower shop in the town. Maria and I had worked with Cristina a couple of years earlier in The Congo, so it was really nice to catch up with her again in her native Italy.
Cristina’s shop is called ‘Monfleur’ (My Flower), and is located in a very lovely building not far from Piazza Garibaldi, so we headed down that way after being refreshed by our Gelato stop.
I mentioned in my previous post about how wonderful the balconies were in all the places we visited, and the one adorning this building was no exception – it just adds so much character to what is already a very lovely property.
We couldn’t help but notice the delightful wording that features on the store window, ‘Ho sempre, e sempre, bisogno di fiori.’ – flower lovers and romantics will relate to this – I always, and always, need flowers.
We ventured inside to say hello, and whilst the girls chatted, I tried my best to capture a few floral type photos – a little different to the buildings and landscapes that I typically take.
After some Italian chat, it was time to head back to the car and home, but very near to Cristina’s shop was a really interesting street that I couldn’t resist taking a picture of. Vicolo XXVII Gennaio – literally Alley 27th January. The street sign also declares ‘Giorno Della Memoria Auschwitz 1945’ ; In memory of Auschwitz 1945 – 27th January being International Holocaust Remembrance Day. A picturesque street, and a sombre note to end an enjoyable visit.
Pizza, Shutters and Balconies in Crescentino
For our last night of the trip, it was Pizza time! We drove to nearby Crescentino to try out a new pizzeria, and take an evening walk (ok, take a few more photos!), our destination was Il Portico, in the town’s Piazza.
When we arrived the place was really quiet, so we had no problems getting a table, however, by the time we left around an hour later, there was barely a seat to be had, seems we started a trend!
Although Il Portico offered a menu containing a range of pasta dishes, we both chose the pizza, I love my pizza, and it always tastes better in Italy IMHO.
I was very unadventurous, and predictably picked prosciutto e funghi, (ham and mushroom), whereas Mel chose something with artichokes and olives, sooo not my taste! However, we both found the food to be delicious, as was the carafe of chilled house red that we selected.
By the time we had finished our pizzas, we were both rather full, but when the waitress came over and described the deserts in her broken English, how could we resist? Profiteroles for me, and Lemon Cheesecake (with merengue) for Mel. Both were enjoyed immensely.
After all that wonderful food, the planned walk was essential, so we headed out into the warm evening, and wandered the relatively quiet streets of the town.
As with the other places we had visited, I was very much enchanted by the age and style of many of the town’s buildings, and the wonderful doors, shutters and of course balconies that we saw – these are a few shots from the walk:
We returned home, stopping only to capture a couple of shots of the Castello di Gabiano and it’s wonderful vineyards, as the sun was starting to fade.
Another visit was drawing to a close, and we left with the hope that we will be back again in the very near future. Gabiano and the entire region is so idyllic, so peaceful, that every moment spent there is one to treasure. We feel so lucky to have found this wonderful place.
Il Portio’s facebook page can be found here