Asti is one of the most visited provinces in the Piedmont region, in Italy, mostly because of the fabulous wine and the amazing landscapes. But the best thing about spending the holidays in a place such as Asti is, at least for me, the fact that there are other little cities or villages not so far away where you can go for the day and then come back. It’s easier than travelling from city to city – you don’t have to keep packing and re-packing, you’re used to the bed already, and you don’t have to worry about booking a million different hotels.
So here are some things you can do after you’re done exploring Asti:
Go to Barolo, or Barbaresco for wine
If you’ve done your research about Piedmont’s wines you know these villages from the wine they produce. A quick drive (25 minutes to Barbaresco and 35 to Barolo) through magical scenery will find you at the town’s centre – you can either hire a car or book a tour with an agency. If you’re not using an agency, remember you have to book the vineyard tours; try to choose only a few to visit, as the tours are long (usually lasting 2 hours), and you don’t want to rush out on a pleasant day.
Take a trip to the beach
Yep, the beach: Asti is only an hour drive or train journey away from Liguria’s capital, Genoa. A lively seaport, the city is located between mountains, and the shore is composed of several rocky coasts and sandy beaches – and that green Mediterranean Sea that’s simply dreamy. Come take a look at Christopher Columbus’ birthplace and rub shoulders with other tourists as enamored of the city, or, if you’re not into people, go whale watching: the Ligurian Sea is known as the Sanctuary of Cetaceans, and the tours leave – fittingly – from the port near the Aquarium.
Visit Alba for more historical walks
Alba is as old as Asti, and as full of interesting buildings and attractions. The comune is renowned for its truffles, hazelnuts, and – not really surprising – the Ferrero company. The Palazzo Comunale, from the 13th century, houses a 15th Nativity scene by Macrinod’Alba, the churches (most from the 14th century), and the archaeological museum make it a great afternoon in Alba.
Take the waters in AcquiTerme
AcquiTerme is a comune in the province of Alessandria, and it was aptly named by the Romans, who took advantage of the hot sulphur springs to built various baths – AcquiTerme means Thermal Waters. After you enjoy the waters, take a walk around the city: La Bollente, a little pavilion in the centre of the town where the water is naturally at 75ºC, was designed in 1870, and it’s probably one of the “newest” tourist attractions – most churches were built between the 10th and 13th centuries.
There are 3 main golf clubs in Asti: Golf Feudo di Asti, Golf Club Città di Asti, and Golf Club Margara. Feudo di Asti was designed by Graham Cooke with an obvious Scottish influence; the 18 hole par 70 course is over 5,000m in length. Città di Asti is the smallest one, with only 9 holes, so it’s perfect if you don’t have the whole day to dedicate to the sport and just want to wind down a bit. Lastly, Margara is the most famous of the courses, and it was designed by FulvioBani to follow the natural contours of the mountains of the Piedmont. All of the courses have restaurants in site, making it an even more interesting outing.