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Olmo Gentile: Borgo Vallone

Phone: 014493002

Reviewed by: Janet Z from NY, review #2606

When: May 2009

Warm hospitality in beautiful countryside

View from our room at Borgo Vallone, photo by  Janet Zinn 2009

We spent five wonderful nights at Borgo Vallone in May.

The property itself is a work-in-progress, with all the work being done by the hosts, Natasja and Ed. It's truly a labor of love and it shows. Our room (the purple one) was extremely spacious with windows on three sides, one of which had sweeping views over the valley (see photo). The bed was the most comfortable I've ever slept in! And the deep purple color scheme was very soothing.

However, while the room looked lovely there were some quirks - each minor on its own, but taken as a whole, they added up. Generally we felt the room design gave more thought to aesthetics than to comfort and ease-of-use. There was insufficient reading light, even though there were cool-looking lights over the bed, they were more form than function. There were no nightstands to put down your glasses, book or clock.

The shower was completely open to the room which made it quite chilly to shower--perhaps in summer months this wouldn't be an issue, but in May ... brrrr! The floor was large stone pebbles ... they looked beautiful but were not comfortable to walk on. Thoughtfully, slippers (and nice terrycloth robes) were provided.

We did also have the use of an adjoining, shared sitting room, with a fireplace and a bit more comfortable and well-lit for reading.

Natasja and Ed are wonderful hosts, extremely helpful in planning your days, and genuinely fun and interesting to converse with. One afternoon they invited us to join them and some friends in a visit to a local winemaker, where we had a fabulous wine tasting complete with antipasti. We felt wholly at ease as part of the group and were treated to a really special experience which we never would have had otherwise.

Breakfast was fantastic, with beautiful fresh fruit, the creamiest yogurt, local honeys and jams, fresh baked breads and pastries (all made by Natasja in the wee hours of the morning!), and of course, the fabulous Piedmont cheeses and meats. The cheeses were so fresh you could practically hear the baaa of the sheep (or bleat of the goat, as it were) as you ate. Drizzled with some of the local honey --- heaven!

The location is gorgeous, with wonderful views over a forested valley, and so peaceful, with only the sounds of birdsong to disturb you. We enjoyed walking the road down to the hazelnut fields, birdwatching and looking at the many wildflowers.

But the location is both the upside and the downside to this property. It is very remote, on small local farm roads. It is a good 15-20 minutes just to get to a main road, and other than some very simple, local restaurants, there is nothing nearby. Going to a more upscale dinner meant at least a 30-40 minute drive each way. Acqui Terme is at least 45 minutes and Alba 45-60 minutes (and not easy driving at night). The heart of "Barolo" country is an hour and a half drive.

And these times are if you don't get lost--which you will! A GPS is a must here but in conjunction with a good map. Fortunately, Natasja will give you a great map with all the small roads.

One restaurant we liked very much, which was about a 30 minute (and not too difficult) drive, was Castello di Bubbio (ask Natasja)!

In summary, I do recommend Borgo Vallone, for the beauty of the location and the warmth and generosity of the hosts. If you are looking for a relaxing place "away from it all" there is no better spot; I would think especially in the warm summer months when you could relax by the lovely pool.

However, if this is your first trip to the Piedmont area and you want a convenient place for general touring and fine dining, you might want to choose a more central location.

Reviewed by: Sharon J from TX, review #2591

When: May 2009

Lovely Setting

This was our first visit to the Piemonte area, so we weren't sure what to expect. We arrived at Borgo Vallone very tired from an all night flight from Houston and an over two hour drive from Malpensa. Natasja and her two beautiful yellow Labs greeted us and showed us to our room, which was two bedrooms, one bath.

The rooms were beautifully decorated and very large. The view from our window over the valley was breathtaking. The Borgo is relatively new and everything was spotless and well appointed. The color schemes in the rooms were very soothing.

We enjoyed taking breakfast in the newly completed dining room each morning. There is a beautiful swimming pool with very comfortable lounge chairs. There are also places to eat breakfast outside, which is very nice.

The owners Natasja and Ed are simply wonderful hosts and I don't know how they do all that they do. They are still in the process of completing this lovely piece of property, but never seem too tired to dote on their guests. Natasja actually drove us to and from dinner at nearby restaurants a couple of nights and was always around the property to see if we needed anything. By the time we left, we truly felt like we had known them for a very long time. We paid 210 per night for the two bedrooms.

Every morning after breakfast, Natasja would bring out her maps and ask what we wanted to do that day. She would then proceed to tell us how to get there and what sights we might enjoy. We had a very full three days.

We certainly would recommend this lovely property to anyone, but with a bit of a warning. It is quite remote from most things and I really think a GPS system of some sort is necessary. Natasja does rent out a TomTom [GPS] by the day if you don't have one. There had been a terrible rain storm a week or so before our arrival and many of the small roads had been washed out, which made it even more difficult, but even in the best of times, it's hard finding your way around, especially at night.

I think this property will only improve as the years go by and they finish all the buildings, but it is already stunning.

Reviewed by: lkmaloney from TN, review #2279

When: May 2008

A beautiful and peaceful retreat in the Piemonte with gorgeous views ... a little tricky to find.

This B&B is perfect for people who want to return at the end of the day to somewhere lovely, peaceful and rural(or just stay there all day), but still prefer elegant accommodations.

Natasja & Ed, the owners, have restored the borgo with real taste and attention to detail. The spacious shower with travertine tiles in our bathroom was so wonderful we both had a hard time getting out of it. The view from our large and comfortable room was a picturesque stone ruin with flower boxes on the windows at the back of the property. It looked like a landscape artist's dream for a canvas.

Two friendly Labradors frolic around the property and are happy to see you when you return at the end of the day.

The guesthouse is just four rooms, so there's never a crowd. There is a beautiful gathering room and a dining room where breakfast is served in the morning. It would be hard to exaggerate how bounteous and delicious Natasja's breakfasts are! The unobstructed views out over the valley as you eat breakfast here are glorious.

There is a lovely patio behind the guesthouse and a swimming pool on a level above the patio. Natasja is an interior designer and all the rooms reflect her meticulous standards of design taste. Everything is beautiful! Ed is always at work around the borgo which is a work in progress - they have plans for the remaining buildings on the property.

Making your way to the borgo is not for the unadventurous or directionally challenged (we fall into the latter category). It is in a remote spot and you will need good directions to arrive there. However, the trade off is the peace and beauty of the borgo when you get there. Despite getting lost more than once (bearing in mind that GPS systems were designed for people like us), we didn't hesitate to head out exploring the towns of the Piemonte and go out to dinner returning late at night.

We started to realize that remembering landmarks was the best way to navigate back. "Wait, this is right- there's the field with the cranky farmer who wouldn't wave!" Every time we successfully returned we felt triumphant.

The Piemonte in general is rural and consequently requires a sense of adventure to explore it.

Our room at at Borgo Vallone was E140 a night and we stayed for three nights. Nastaja & Ed are are very hospitable and helpful hosts who will see to your every need!

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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