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Churches above hilltop towns
Churches above hilltop towns

Walking is a way to get from A to B. It’s not my idea of pleasure.

Hubby John says I’d drive to the bathroom if I could!

On a recent trip to the Piemonte region of Italy, I was persuaded (or ruthlessly conned) into joining a Nordic walking trip; you know what I mean, when they stomp along with two sticks as though they’ve forgotten their skis.

We met the guide in a car park and he gave us all a pair of luminous green sticks with straps at the end in case we wanted to fix them to our wrists.

He led us up to a viewing point. Grapevines stretched as far as the eye could see, meandering up and down the sides of the hills like a huge green patchwork.

The Reluctant Hiker.
The Reluctant Hiker.

Small towns perched on top of the hills. Each of them had a church spire sticking up like a candle on a cake.

He pointed to a castle on a hill. ‘We’re just going on a short, easy walk to that castle over there,’ he told us.

I racked my brains, trying to remember what I’d been taught about perspective in my school art class.

Was that a tiny castle a few yards away, or a giant castle in another land, possibly owned by an ogre with a pet dragon?

Well there were a lot of vines in front of it, so I wasn’t feeling very optimistic, or very happy. And it was hot!

We started off down the hill, passing a class of schoolchildren who were playing on swings and roundabouts. I wonder what the lesson was?

Rows of vines.
Rows of vines.

They all giggled and stared. Oh dear, not a very good start!

Then off we went down the road, clip-clopping along like a row of giant praying mantis (praying mantises? Praying manti?)

All the local dogs popped out onto their balconies and bravely barked at us as we passed.

None of their owners told them to shut up, so there was quite a chorus after 10 minutes or so.

Something that I learnt very quickly was that Nordic Torture Walkers never complain. They never say, ‘God, I’m shattered! I need to stop for a rest.’

Instead, they point at something with one of their sticks and say things like, ’Ooh look, a fig tree,’ or, ‘Wow, potatoes!’

Small ciabot
Small ciabot

Then they carefully examine the tree/plant until they’ve recovered.

Taking photos is a good ruse too. I’ve used that one myself.

We turned left and walked along between the vines. Everyone had gone quiet and it was really peaceful.

Suddenly I was in the lead. Which way should I go?

‘Right!’ called the guide, waving a stick at me.

I obediently turned right.

Right? But the castle was on my left. And not only that, but it was exactly the same size as when we’d started! We weren’t any nearer to it!

Where were the others? They were carefully examining the tiny bunches of grapes and taking photos of them.

Yeah right, you can’t fool me, you Nordic Torture Walkers!

We stopped outside a ciabot, which is a hut for the vineyard workers to rest in.

Isn’t that a nice word, ciabot.

The home stretch.
The home stretch.

Then off we plodded again, back through the vines.

The castle was directly in front of us. It didn’t look any bigger to me.

Were we actually going towards it, or walking round it?

The main road was a few yards up the hill, but, oh no, not for we valiant Nordic Torture Walkers! We had to stagger along the rough terrain, using our sticks to keep our balance.

We slid down a sandy bank and the guide pointed with his stick at a rusty grille.

‘That’s for irrigating the grapes,’ he told us.

Everyone stared, fascinated.

Whoopee, a rusty grille! I mean, who cares?

Finally we skidded down one last sandy hill and there was the castle looming over the houses!

Let me explain something, Dear Foreign Readers.

At last!
At last!

A few years ago, the British Government passed a law, banning the use of mobile phones while driving.

Well, in Italy the reverse seems to apply.

Every driver that passed us had their phone glued to their faces. And they all stared at us.

I don’t know the Italian for Twits, but they definitely said something and then laughed!

We stopped in a car park at the base of the castle and Roberto, the trip organiser, pounced on me.

‘There we are, you can do it Lyn. You finished first!’

‘I didn’t say I couldn’t do it. I said I didn’t want to,’ I replied.

‘We’re all going on a short hike up the mountain this afternoon. Why don’t you come with us?’ Roberto persisted, ‘You’ll really enjoy it!’

‘I’d rather bash myself over the head with a Nordic Walking Stick,’ I muttered.


If you enjoy strange masochistic pastimes like hiking, biking, white water rafting, etc, plus normal activities like wine slurping, cheese munching, and sampling locally-made products, contact Roberto Maggioni.


MAGGIONI Tourist Marketing

Dietrich-Bonhoeffer-Str. 3 – 10407 Berlin


T     +49  (0)30  44044398

F     +49  (0)30  42088582

M   +49  (0)160  7858666




He’ll organise a great trip for you, away from the normal tourist areas. In fact, on some of the hikes, you won’t see another person for days.

But don’t bother inviting me!


Tourism authorities

Ente Turismo Alba Bra Langhe Roero

Piazza Risorgimento 2

12051 Alba (CN) Italy

Ph +39 0173 362807



Ente Turismo del Cuneese

Via Vittorio Amedeo II, 8°

12100 Cuneo , Italy

Ph. +39 0171 690217





Langhe region

Hotel Cà del Lupo

Via Ballerina,15

12050 Montelupo Albese (CN)

Ph +39 0173 617045



Cuneo region

Hotel Royal Superga

Via Pascal 3

12100 Cuneo

Ph +39 0171 693223






4 Ciance

Via Dronero 8c

Cuneo, Italy

Ph. +39 0171 489027





Piazza Negro, 4

Neive (CN)

Ph +39 0173.677206



Valle Grana – Sambuco


Via Umberto I, 35

Sambuco (CN)

Ph +39 0171 96628




Travel services



Fine Wine Merchant & Advisor
Cycling & Winery Tours in Italy

Corso Piave, 115

12051 Alba (CN) Italy

Ph. +39 333 4960712


Insite – Another Kind of Italy

Fabrizio Bissacco

Ph. +39 334 779 3333



Global Mountain

Via Zuretti 46

12040 Sanfrè (CN)

Ph. +39 366 3571021





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