We had three trips planned for the second week of November, each depending on what the weather was going to be like. Either we’d fly to Naples (cheap EasyJet flights out of Nice) and explore the Amalfi Coast, drive east along the Liturgia Coast, or go northeast to Piedmonte in Northern Italy. On Monday morning the weather looked best for Piedmonte so we rented a car, booked the hotel rooms and were off early Tuesday morning. We had already done our homework for all three destinations so we knew what we wanted to see and do.
We chose to drive straight up from Nice on highway D2204, which took us through Sospel, Tende, into Italy and on to Alba, our first hotel stop along the way. This drive is just spectacular, with perhaps a hundred hairpin turns as we made our way over the coastal range. Clear blue skies and the leaves were turning orange, red and yellow making for a spectacular colorful drive. With these types of narrow roads and turn backs, we were glad to be doing it in November and not August; there was hardly anyone else on the road. When we reached Breil-sur-Roya we met up with the train tracks and followed them along the Fiumi Roia river on the D6204 highway that comes up from Vintimiglia. This would be a faster route, taking the A8 first from Nice to Vintimiglia, and then headed up into Northern Italy. However, at this time of the year, with little traffic, D2204 was worth doing.
When passing from France to Italy we had to go through Tende tunnel that is two mile long; straight through a mountain. Coming out the other side, snow was on the ground (no idea why not on the France side), and then we started our climb downwards.
As we arrived into Alba the mountains subsided and we came into a countryside similar to that of Tuscany, with rolling hills and small villages perched on top of them. Our accommodation for the night was at Cascina Barac, a B&B situated in the middle of a vineyard, the family that also owned the B&B. A little difficult to find, especially in the dark, so we were glad we got the GPS option. We were nicely greeted with a glass of Barolo and Chardonnay, from the estate’s cellar (quite nice).
We had a standard room and it was large (for European standards especially), well decorated with in-house music system piped to the rooms, AC and heat, and wall anointed bathrooms. Beautiful views of the countryside from all rooms.
For our second day we toured around the area, starting with Alba. Wonderful town, well-kept, nice stores and plazas. Probably our favorite town in the region of Cuneo. We also visited Acqui, Nizza Monferrato and Asti, but Alba was our favorite, followed by Asti. The area around Alba, especially where Cascina Barac is located, is really picturesque with its rolling hills and coloring vineyards. The hillsides are covered with many different plots of vineyards, each planted in different directions and each at different stages of coloring, so the hills look like a very large quilt.