Got a long weekend you’re looking to fill? Take the road less travelled – sometimes quite literally – by paying a visit to the home of May's Bordiga Occitan Gin! Pietro Bordiga’s superbly beautiful and woefully undiscovered home region of Piedmont is the perfect place for a getaway. Here’s how to spend three fabulous days in this wonderful spot.
You can fly direct to Turin – or Torino as it’s known in Italian – so make Piedmont’s capital city your first stop.
When you land, grab a cab at the airport and speed straight to your hotel. Grand Hotel Sieta is a Turin institution, where the rich and famous congregate to drink cocktails in swish environs. If you’re more downtown than uptown, check out Boston Art Hotel for its amazing modern art collection and eclectic rooms.
With your bags dropped off and your walking shoes laced on, it’s time to check out what this fabulous city has to offer. The first capital of a united Italy, this gorgeous city centre is home to beautiful palaces and eats of power. The most famous is the Palazzo Reale, the gorgeous palace from which the Dukes of Savoy governed northern Italy for generations. Also stop by Turin Cathedral, which houses a holy shroud bearing the image of a man some think is Jesus of Nazareth.
With your history fix satisfied, stroll through Porta Palazzo, Europe’s largest open-air market, before revelling in the slow food movement in one of Turin’s spectacular restaurants. Ristorante Moreno specialises in cooking Piedmont’s world-famous truffles, while Caffè San Carlo, with its marble-topped tables, is an elegant enclave with impeccable attention to detail.
First thing in the morning, hop in the car and hightail it north, towards the border with Switzerland. Here you’ll find Stresa, a beautiful resort on Lake Maggiore.
Stresa has been written about since 998 AD, and in the intervening years served as a popular retreat for Europe’s aristocratic classes. With beautiful lake views and incredible architecture, it’s not hard to see why – and a stay in the gorgeous Grand Hotel des Iles Borromees is an absolute must (especially for any Wes Anderson fans you happen to be travelling with).
Literature fans will also appreciate spending the night at The Grand Hotel. Ernest Hemingway set part of his novel A Fairwell to Arms in the hotel, and spent time himself in the town. Follow in his footsteps and spend the night eating and drinking on the lake’s glimmering shores.
Elva and Cuneo
Now that you’ve experienced the city centre and the lakeside, it’s time to get a feel for the Italian Alps. Get back in the rental and spend the day taking a leisurely drive through the mountains, making the five hour trek to the little town of Elva.
On the Alpine slopes surrounding this idyllic town, the aromatic herbs used in Bordiga’s Occitan Gin are gathered. You should arrive in the early or mid-afternoon, so have a little wander around and absorb the beautiful atmosphere. If you’re up for a little more driving, head an hour and a half to the south and stop by Cuneo, where you can visit the Bordiga distillery.
Find yourself back in central Turin for your final night, where you can toast a beautiful journey with ice-cold Prosecco and aperitivo underneath the glittering chandeliers of Caffè San Carlo. Get a good night’s sleep and head to the airport in the morning.