Canonica di Corteranzo? This is the kind of place that, after you leave, you hope remains undiscovered, unspoiled and – until you return again – untouched by the passing of time. My wife and I spent several early summer days here for our 30th anniversary and it was, perhaps, the most romantic and sensual time we have ever spent together. The Monferrato area of the Piedmont region in Northern Italy is ablaze with fields of sunflowers at this time of year; the vineyards that cover the hillsides are already heavy-laden with grapes, and flowers are abloom in myriad window boxes. It is a pristine and nearly magical kind of beauty that is best enjoyed slowly like the food and wine that is produced here.
If that were enough – food, wine and beauty – then the Canonica would be an extraordinary place to stay. But Emma and Gabrielle Calvo have infused their hilltop villa with such warmth and charm that even today, as we remember the time we spent there, we practically pinch ourselves to prove that it was not just a dream.
The rooms are large and pleasant. Breakfast is a simple yet elegant affair. Relaxing by the pool that overlooks the villages and vineyards below makes leaving Corteranzo for day trips a difficult decision. But the sights of Turin, Genoa, Milan – even the lovely villages of the Italian Alps – beckon and each is less than a two hour drive away. When you return, there is wine to drink on the rooftop terrace and a gourmet dinner only a stones throw away at the wonderful Ristirante Cascina Martini.
We did manage somehow to leave the Canonica for good and spent several more days at a boutique hotel in Bellagio with a great view of Lake Como; we finished our trip with three nights in a five star hotel on the swank Via della Spiga in Milan. The entire trip was wonderful but, truth be told, if we did it again we’d spend our whole time at the Canonica. It is just that magical of a kind of place.
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