So Much to See, Never Enough Time
Pinerolo is the “big” town at the mouth of Val Chisone and the closest train station which is about 1o miles from Bella Baita. Val Chisone, Germanasca and Pellice are sometimes referred to as the Pinerolo valleys.
This charming town really comes to life on market days when farmers and vendors bring their produce and wares to the center of town that makes for a large lovely open air market. The tradition has been carrying on, year round, for over 1,000 years. We are spoiled for choice with all the varieties of cheese from this famous dairy producing area. You’ll find what’s in season and fashion, as well as much to drool over, sample and puzzle about.
Market days are Wednesdays and Saturdays, 7 am till 12:30 - 1pm ish.
Town center has covered arcades that makes shopping in the many and varied smart shops pleasant even if the weather is less than ideal. You’ll find a variety of delicious places to eat and drink a coffee with a fresh pastry or chocolate or an aperitivo with snacks if you like as well and even a bookstore, Volare, stocked with English books, free internet access and indoor cafe.
The main church, San Donato, in the center of the old town is a lovely old gothic style church with blue ceiling and stars and murals recently refurbished. San Maurizio at the top of town is worth the short walk up past the original Senate building form the time of when Torino was the capitol of Italy, to the top of town for a good view of where the alps meet the plains, with Monviso peak, impressively looming in the distance.
There is an interesting free museum commemorating Pinerolo’s history as having been the original home of the Italian Calvary and school and a variety of small museums of history and science.
It also has its very own “Eataly” store. If you are not familiar with this store, it is a chain born in Torino that focuses on genuine specialties of Italy that are traditional and crafted in the “Slow Food” tradition whose organisation was born in Bra, Piedmont.
Pinerolo has an annual celebration every year on the first weekend of October celebrating the Mystery of the "Man in the Iron Mask". He was held in Pinerolo prison for 11 years. This weekend of recreation of his arrival, escorted by the famous musketeers, brings out the period costumes and festivities fitting this mysterious and curious piece of history.
Wine tasting is possible near Pinerolo. at some of wineries that are part of Torino’s wine road. La Strada Reale dei Vini Torinesi.
Outside the Val Chisone
Staffarda Abbey: beautiful abbey on the way towards Saluzzo.
Saluzzo: A charming medieval village to wander around eventually making your way to the top of town for a sweeping view of the plains.
Manta Castle: Just a couple of miles south of Saluzzo, you will discover this small but well restored castle that everyone in the family will enjoy. They have self guided audio players in several languages, including English, making the visit quite enjoyable and not too long.
Monviso: The highest peak in the Cottian range of alps and the headwaters of the Po. It’s popular with the walking and climbing crowd in the summer. Pian del Regina at the ed of the road, is a great place to park the car and have a wander in the mountains and maybe a picnic or a bite to eat at “La Baita della Polenta”.
About 1 hour from Bella Baita
Sacra San Michele: This imposing Gothic-Romanasque abbey which dates back to the 10th century, has long been the symbol of Piedmont and heralds the entrance to the Susa valley. Parts of the movie, “The Name of the Rose” were filmed here.
Avigliana and lakes: A charming village whose smooth surfaced natural lakes lie at the base of Sacra San Michele.
Susa: started out as a Celtic town and then came under the mantle of the Roman Empire. You can still find several Roman monuments, such as an arch, sections of an aqua duct and an amphitheater.
Exilles: A military outpost and once feared prison that held the “Man in the Iron Mask” for a time after his stay in Pinerolo prison, it is am impressive sight up on the hill top.
About 2 hours from Bella Baita
The Langhe wine area: with the well known names of wines from the charming town that gave them their names, Barolo and Barbaresco, to name two.
Alba -Bra: ancient charming towns that gave birth to the Slow Food movement
Pollenzo: Slow Food university and wine bank situated in this Unesco designated town
Monferrato wine region: with various wineries and small towns to ramble through.
And if you fancied a day in France, there is the hill top town of
Briancon, France: beautiful drive up our Chisone valley and into the French alps for a wander about the medieval village and perhaps a well filled crepe for lunch or motor further into the alps over to Col du Lautaret. The Langhe wine area: with the well known names of wines from the charming town that gave them their names, Barolo and Barbaresco, to name two.