La Granica

Fontanile, Piedmont, Italy Book from Book from £149 per night

Two self-catering cottages on a rustic Piedmontese farmstead with vineyard and swimming pool
Enfolded in the gentle Monferrato hills, this is the dolce vita: two houses in a peaceful valley near Fontanile, surrounded by fields of vines, a glittering pool and Piedmont’s real food and fine wines… It’s the stuff long hazy summers are made of. Thankfully for us, owners Karen and Mark Langley chose to share this haven with others, so you too can now enjoy a slice of rural escapism.

Both houses have been kept small and homely, but there is nothing homespun about them. The interior of the 4-Bedroom Villa is lined with oak and brick, teak and slate, the odd wall of luscious wallpaper. The rooms are furnished with sleek Milan-designer furniture, mood lighting, a touch of Japanese modernism, a bit of crystal bling, a nod towards carbon-neutrality. Next, the 2-Bedroom Cottage arrived, this is a simpler hideaway, but no less welcoming. In one of Piedmont’s most beautiful corners, La Granica feels like the middle of nowhere, but it’s actually an easy drive from Alba, Asti and Acqui Terme, and walking distance from a wine cantina.

Highs

  • The 4-Bedroom Villa has gorgeous suite-like rooms with lots of light, teak floors and dashes of colour
  • A smaller 2-Bedroom Cottage with a handy twin room for kids
    The houses share access to the grounds and swimming pool, but retain a sense of privacy
  • Good green credentials: spring-fed water supply, solar-powered energy and a chlorine-free pool
  • Great location in Piedmont’s wine-and-food heart - an easy drive from Alba, Asti and Acqui Terme

Lows

  • Previously a B&B and we're yet to experience the new self-catering set up
  • You have your own kitchen, but you'll have to drive to reach restaurant and food shops
  • Smokers should be aware: no lighting up on site

Best time to go

In this “enogastronomic” region, there seems to be a feast or a food festival every other week from spring until autumn, celebrating just about everything from asparagus to chickpeas and hazelnuts. Visit in May for fine weather and Piedmont wine festivals; the local village, Fontanile, holds a small one in June. In autumn, come for the wine harvest and truffle season (the Alba truffle festival takes place in October/November).

Our top tips

Local towns and villages worth a look include: Nizza Monferrato (10 mins), good for restaurants, shopping and mooching around; the hilltop village of Mombaruzzo (5 mins), home to the Amaretti biscuit, the Berta Grappa distillery and an excellent Cantina Sociale; and Canelli (15 mins) for cobbled streets and more cantinas.

Great for...

Family
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 4 + 1 cottage for 2-4
  • Self-catering (drive to restaurants)
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 27 Oct 2018 - 17 May 2019
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Red

Rooms

La Granica has a large 4-Bedroom Villa and a simpler 2-Bedroom Cottage. Both enjoy full access to the peaceful grounds and cooling swimming pool.

The 4-Bedroom Villa has a semi-professional grade kitchen (a hangover from the house’s B&B days), a dining room, a library and a covered outdoor terrace. On the first floor, the generous bedrooms are all slightly different, with high sloping ceilings, exposed timbers and polished teak floors. We loved our sunny, twin-aspect Aubergine room with its simple four-poster bed and shuttered French windows opening onto a small balcony overlooking the vineyard. Next door, the Red has a mahogany sleigh bed and two balconies. Sage is the smallest room, but still charming. Amber is the only room without a balcony. Fabulous ensuite wet-rooms are lined with limestone, sculpted basins, chrome taps and luxury towels.

The 2-Bedroom Cottage next door is a little more traditional and a little less glamorous. It’s a available for holidays or short breaks. Part of the original 300-year-old building, the cottage is a cosy, family-friendly option with a kitchen-diner (microwave, fridge, washing machine), a living room, a double bedroom with four-poster, a twin room and family bathroom.

Features include:

  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Internet access
  • Radio
  • Satellite TV
  • Terrace
  • TV

Eating

Each house has a kitchen for self-catering, perfect for lazy lunches and easy suppers. You could easily whip up a bowl of pasta or a Piedmont ploughman’s (with Gorgonzola cheese and Prosciutto). The 4-Bedroom Villas has a sunny separate dining room and comfy sofas on the shaded outdoor terrace.

If you feel like dining out, head to one of dozens of excellent local restaurants. Karen’s favourites include La Signora in Rosso, an atmospheric enoteca in Nizza Monferrato. Here you can eat and drink in the courtyard during summer or the cellar during cooler months - the wine list is vast. In Acqui Terme, La Curia's specialities include fresh fish from the Ligurian coast.

For a fun food shopping experience, join the hustle and bustle of Asti's Wednesday morning produce market (30-minute drive). It's a great introduction to Piedmont’s foodie culture, at the heart of the famous sparkling-wine town.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Snacks on request
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • If you want to stay close to home, just take a walk through the vineyard up to Fontanile, a small village crowned by a magnificent church dome. There a small local bar-café, lovely views of the hills and vineyards, and on a fine day you can see the snowy peaks of the Alps

  • Explore the beautiful Roman spa town of Acqui Terme (15 mins drive), the Piedmont equivalent of England’s Bath Spa (with piping hot thermal springs). You can book a steamy thermal treatment in the modern spa at the Grand Termes in the Piazza Italia. The town is great for shopping, too and there’s a market on Tuesday mornings

  • Medieval Alba, the centre of the Barolo wine region, is also worth a visit. There are pay-as-you-go bikes for hire in the centre, and in October/November the town hosts an annual 6-week truffle festival

  • Wine buffs should make pilgrimage to the hilltop villages of Barbaresco, Nizza (for Barbera) or Nieve. Closer to home, there is a social cantina at Fontanile, which is open for wine tastings. The largest private winery in the area, Nocetto Michelotti (about 3 mins away), has a state of the art cantina.

  • Longer day trips can take you up to museum-rich Turin, fashion capital of Milan , the Ligurian coast around Genoa (75km) or the stunning Italian Lakes (120km)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Historical sites
  • Horse riding
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Shopping / markets
  • Tennis
  • Traditional cultures

Kids

Children are welcome and will enjoy exploring the acres of vineyards.

Family friendly accommodation:

The 4-Bedroom Villa is all double beds. Extra beds and baby cots are available on request. The 2-Bedroom Cottage has a double and a twin bedroom.

Kid Friendly:

Location

La Granica is tucked down a single-track country lane in southern Piedmont's Monferrato region. The nearest village is Fontanile (2km). The nearest town is Nizza Monferrato (12km).

By Air
The nearest airports are Geneva and Turin (both 1 hour’s drive / 100km), and Milan Malpensa (1hr 30 mins). You can also fly into Bergamo to the east of Milan (1 hr 45 mins).

From the Airport
The best way to get there is to hire a car, as you will need your own transport to explore the region and to visit restaurants.

By Train
There are railway stations at Nizza Moferrato and Mombaruzzo.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.

More on getting to Italy and getting around

Airports:

  • Geneva 100.0 km GVA
  • Turin 100.0 km TRN

Other:

  • Beach 80.0 km
  • Shops 1.0 km
  • Restaurant 3.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

9/10
Room
10/10
Food
10/10
Service
9/10
Value
10/10
Overall

The Italian equivalent of the country getaway, tucked away in a wooded hollow among the vines and rolling hills of the generous Piedmont landscape. Perfect for wine and food lovers and families too. As a young family of four, we appreciated the unfussy style that was still luxurious, a stately old grain barn enhanced by quality modern gear. Beyond a very chic swimming pool, a bucolic scene of Mark and his son lumbering on small tractors among rows of vines whose grapes make their way up the hill to the Cantina at Fontanile to be turned into a very drinkable Barbera, several bottles of which greet you as part of the welcome pack. It's a great spot from which to explore the area, and the atmospheric old market towns of Alba, Asti and Acqui Terme are all within glorious drives. Just as tempting is a day spent hanging out at home or down by the pool, especially when things heat up in the summer. Big airy rooms (including a four-poster), tall ceilings, shuttered balconies, open plan kitchens, shady patios for reclining with a book - they all help to keep things cool and it's great feeling entirely independent. Mark is hugely knowledgeable about the region (and especially about wine) and is sensitive to the needs of individual guests. He even intervened on our behalf to clear up the small matter of a (undeserved) parking ticket. It feels like he and his wife Karen have followed their dreams in coming out here and for however long you stay you too can imagine what it would be like if you left it all behind.

10/10,

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