Cuneo was amazing. This is the town where Lisa’s grandmother Onorina was born. She lived here for a while before moving to the United States. Since before Lisa and I were married, we had a picture of the square in Cuneo hanging on our wall at home; it is a permanent fixture.
Seeing this place for the first time in person leaves me with the simple impression that his place is magical. Sitting in front of the Alps, the scenery is picturesque. the town was built up in a sensible way, well preserved and well laid out. The people are kind and happy. The food is the quintessential Piemonte food: delicate and delicious. The wines are fantastic. It is beautiful.
One of the things I wanted to do was take a picture of the square that matches the one we have at home. I would need a rig to do that as the angle from the street isn’t quite right. I did a passable job and got one with my four Marinis in the picture. Perhaps when we get home, we’ll enlarge this one and put it on the wall too.
The hotel at which we stayed offered free bike borrowing. I have to admit this is one of the most interesting and wonderful benefits I've experienced at a hotel. The bikes weren't in great shape, but they did the job just fine. Not everyone was up for a bike ride, but Zoe desperately wanted to go. Despite my foot killing me, I saddled up and we biked a few miles around town. We went up through the square and stopped by the Cuneo train station, then took the route along the edge of town back toward the square (and hotel). We thought about biking over the bridge, but the sidewalk there was tight and we didn't want to have to navigate pedestrians during our attempt. Zoe and I both haven't ridden a bike in a while. No helmets ('cause that ain't a thing in Italy for commuter bikes) and no accidents.
One of the things Cuneo is known for (though I didn't know before we showed up) is the Cuneesi Al Rhum. I have never before experienced such a fantastic infusion of flavor (particularly the mouth feel of alcohol) that is accomplished by this magical creation. It was created in Cuneo by Andrea Arione some time in the early twentieth century. It is a custard infused with rum coated in chocolate.
We bought a bag from one shop, but I did have an original at Arione and it was better. The upside of the bag we bought is that it had a large variety of Cuneesi, both alcoholic and non. The grappa one is a marvel unto itself. The grappa sensation shot up through my nasal passages while I was savoring it; so true to form.
This things are amazing. If you ever find yourself in Cuneo, it would be a travesty to miss an original Cuneesi Al Rhum at Caffè Pasticceria Arione. Just do it.
Zoe had a chocolate (non-alcoholic) Cuneesi at the caffè. Several times since, the kids have bit into one of the Cuneesi we bought and been quite unpleasantly surprised that they selected an alcoholic one. Lisa doesn't seem to like the alcoholic ones either. I suppose they are bit intense for her.
Zoe also had a hot chocolate at Arione's and it was beyond decadent.
We went to the restaurant in Hotel Palazzo Lovera. There I had the most delicate and delicious veal ravioli I can ever remember having. It came out lightly coated in a browned butter sauce and I immediately thought it was under-sauced. I finished the rather petite portion (by America standards) completely satisfied, mind blown and slightly depressed in knowing that I'm unlikely to have a ravioli on parallel until I one day return to Italy.
I can also highly recommend Osteria Senza Fretta Di Daniela E Marco. We went there for dinner and had a wonderful experience. I had risotto with spinach pesto and anchovies; I found it fantastic, but I think that the taste was a bit pungent for Zoe who also ordered it. I shall make some homemade risotto soon that is less quirky to show her she likes risotto. I followed my Primi with a Secondi of Rabbit rolled in herbs. Paired with fantastic wine, the dinner was one I shall remember for quite some time.
Also, if you have a beautiful daughter turning eleven years old, hug her hard in the middle of the square. Gianna turned eleven years old today. It's been pretty surreal watching all of them grow up and Gianna has always seemed so much younger and older than her age almost simultaneously. She is a wonderful conundrum.
Visit the square at dusk, it is beautiful at all hours... just another picture for the sake of pictures. I cannot get over how beautiful the square is. During the daylight you can see the snowcapped mountains in the background which is almost impossible to capture in a photo unless you have an elevated perspective on the square. The human eye is truly magical.