Hotel Cantine Ascheri, Bra
A must for wine and food lovers, the Hotel Cantine Ascheri is a minimalist hotel in the centre of Bra, one of the most important Piedmontese locations for wine and gastronomy and the international headquarters of the Slow Food movement. Situated close to the neighbouring Barolo and Barbaresco villages, it is an excellent base for exploring this fascinating corner of Italy.
The hotel sits right on top of its historic winery – the Ascheri family have been making wines since 1880 – with views of the barrels below through a glass floor.
Décor throughout the hotel is simple and uncomplicated, with liberal use of steel and glass, modern art, wooden floors and hand-crafted furniture. Bedrooms are contemporary and comfortable, with stylish bathrooms in neutral stone hues.
A lounge bar and roof top terrace provide the perfect spot to sit and sample the hotel’s own wine and there is also a small library.
Food and wine
Breakfast is an excellent buffet with local bread, cheese and meat specialities in addition to several variations on the local Nutella/chocolate theme!
The hotel’s restaurant, the Osteria Murivecchi, where Salsiccia di Bra and Gnocchi al Castelmagno feature on the weekly changing and very reasonable menu, is set within the hotel’s courtyard.
The hotel is a just a short walk to Bra town centre, the home of the Slow Food movement. Rather than supermarkets, the historic centre is home to small, family-run shops displaying organic sausages, handmade chocolates and local farm produce.
For many, Alba is the undisputed gourmet capital of Piedmont. In the heart of the Langhe region, this beautifully preserved medieval town is well worth a visit, not least for its white truffle and chocolates – this is where Ferrero Rocher, Nutella and Gianduia all come from.
From Bra, it is a short and pleasant drive through Alba then Asti, and up to the Monferrato region past vineyards that produce Italy's greatest red wines - Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera - and whites, including Asti Spumante and Moscato. Not surprisingly, the countryside is characterised by vineyard-covered hills with wineries and farms offering wine-tastings and wine routes.
But while the Festival delle Sagre in the autumn transforms Asti into the biggest open-air restaurant in Italy, this region is not just for gourmets. Asti is one of Piedmont’s leading art cities, boasting palazzi, towers and ancient churches, in addition to a stunning Gothic cathedral. This is the birthplace of the 18th century poet and dramatist, Vittorio Alfieri, who lends his name to the triangular shaped Piazza Alfieri, the site of the town’s Palio horse race in September.
Nearby Cuneo is also worth a visit, a city of boulevards lined with arcaded buildings, and of shops and restaurants offering all the local specialities.
Turin (40km) is easily accessible by road or rail in just 45 minutes.
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