On our 22nd trip to Piemonte, we chose to stay in Barolo for the first time (all the previous times had been in Barbaresco area). We are loving the proliferation of lodging choices in the area, particularly the agriturismo options. The concept of "roughing it" should be forgotten when choosing to stay in an agriturismo.
But, like fabphil, we too thought the presence of the two roads to Barolo in such close proximity to the place would be a buzz kill. I'm extremely sensitive to street noise and thought "what was I thinking when I booked?" I knew about the road noise. Those thoughts lasted about 6 hours. For the rest of our four nights, it just became background noise. For the noise, I suspect some might think I should give Il Gioco dell'Orca only 4 stars, but that wouldn't be fair given the incredible warm welcome and comfy accommodations Rafaella provides. Besides, every time I told a local friend where we were staying, they responded with a resounding confirmation that we'd chosen a great place to stay.
We arrived on a warm day in June just a few weeks after three months of unusually persistent rain ended. The mosquitoes were out in full force, so we simply plugged an "anti-zanzarra" thingie in the plug and all was good.
When we walked into the dining room, we could see owner Rafaella hard at work needing dough for bread. I was sure we'd met before given the warmth of her welcome, but soon learned Rafaella has the personality and spirit owners and operators of agriturismo should (and usually do) have. So we were warmly welcomed, told we could use the kitchen as needed (which was great to store some goodies such as cheese and salumi we had nightly for dinner after a day of pigging out).
We later sat in the salon and enjoyed sipping Rafaella's father's wine with Bernese mountain dog, Chablis, and the cat providing fun companionship. The walls are decorated with intriguing old photographs.
Breakfast outside on the terrace was delightful. About 6 or so homemade jams and marmalades are provided along with bread, cheese, yoghurt, salami, juice, coffee and other of the usual suspects at an Italian breakfast (cakes, etc.). Eggs were offered, but we were stuffing ourselves with the goodies.
Although the road is a source of aggravation, it is also a great asset to get around fast to the other side of the Langhe. It takes only 20 minutes to get to Barbaresco from Il Gioco. The straight shot on the road that opens onto the autostrade with an exit at Neive is great. Alba is a quick trip, too. There is a BigStore in Castiglione Falletto, but also great options for local products in Barolo and on the main road to Castiglione Falletto before you reach the BigStore.
Barolo is a nice 25 minute hike on the less-travelled Barolo road from which you enter the agriturismo. We stayed on the road since the walking path is also used by tractors and the dust stirred up by them a mess. So after a day or night pigging out at any of the area's fabulous restaurants, a brisk hike to Barolo and up and down the village's cobblestone streets is a good exercise.
By the way, despite it being hot (in the 80s during the day) our room was pleasant and cool day and night.
All in all, Rafaella and her parents provide a wonderful place to make camp on your adventures in Piemonte. So bring your earplugs if you must and just kick back and enjoy the warmth and family atmosphere of Il Gioco dell'Oca.
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