Asti - An Autumn by the Sea - CycleBlaze

October 23, 2018

Asti

We got an early start to the day, with a 7:30 self serve breakfast at our apartment.  An hour later, we walked back over the cathedral for a second look.  It was virtually empty this morning, giving us all the time we wanted to slowly look around and up. 

We checked out from our room at 10, and were startled walking down the stairsby the family preceding us.  “I think it’s the girl from dinner!”, says he.  No, says she; but as occasionally happens, he’s right and she’s wrong.  The mother of the family turns around, smiles, and confirms my identification.  This is a delightful surprise - I almost mentioned this family in yesterday’s entry, but it didn’t seem quite worth noting.  We were both charmed by the girl, wandering around the dining area and giving us a friendly glance from time to time.  I had wanted to take her photo, but it felt too intrusive then.  The parents are open and friendly, speak English fairly fluently, and we have a nice chat before going our separate ways.  They’re from Bologna, on vacation, on their way to Dijon.

After they leave, a lone woman bicycles slowly by, carefully looking up at the buildings behind us.  She circles back a minute later, and then asks if we were guests here.  She is considering staying here for Christmas, and is wondering how it would be.  We’re happy to give her an excellent recommendation.

What a photogenic family! It’s too bad the daughter is camera shy this morning, but she was much more outgoing at dinner last night. She must not be a morning person.
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The best view of Casale Monferrato’s tower. I didn’t notice it last night because it was in the shadows then.
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Dawn breaks on the piazza.
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In the Casale Monferrato Cathedral
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In the Casale Monferrato Cathedral
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In the Casale Monferrato Cathedral
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In the Casale Monferrato Cathedral
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In the Casale Monferrato Cathedral
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Yesterday’s ride was one of the easiest of the tour, but today’s is one of the best.  After a flat mile or two biking south out of Casale, we break free of town and enter some of the most attractive cycling terrain imaginable.   This is Lower Monferrato, the northern part of the Monferrato district that forms this part of the Piemonte.  For the next twenty miles we roll across a series of ridges, rising up to colorful villages and then dropping back into the valley again.  The roads are quiet, the weather is phenomenal (How many more incredible late  fall days like this can there be? ).  Everything is beautiful, but above all it’s the patchwork of cultivated fields, some freshly plowed, others still green.  We make slow progress, stopping often to admire views too stunning to just roll past.

At Vignale Monferrato, one of a string of ridgetop villages, we stop for lunch, sitting on a stone wall in the sun and eating our usual bread, meat and cheese repast.  After that we pick up the pace and bike straight through to Asti, arriving there about 3:30.

Lower Monferrato is a fantastic region for cycling. We passed views like this all morning long.
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This is such an attractive time to be here, with the fields all freshly plowed.
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Tell me this farmer doesn’t have an artistic soul. I imagine him looking across his land at the end of the day and thinking of Van Gogh.
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In Monferrato
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Vignale Monferrato, I think. We biked through a series of three or four ridgetop villages in a row, and I’ve gotten them confused a bit.
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One for Steve, who’s a bit put out that there are so few cow and food photos in the blog. I’ll start doing what I can to address the cow/chow deficit, but these were the only cows we saw all day.
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In Monferrato. The Pennine Alps are still visible through the haze beyond the village. A sign at an earlier viewpoint said that on a clear day you can see Montarosa and the Matterhorn from here.
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In Monferrato
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In our room, we wait around until 5, when the staff comes on duty who will take our laundry.  We’re here two nights, and this is a good opportunity for getting the wash done.  After that we walk off to see some sights and look for dinner, and quickly become frustrated.  We’re a bit out of the center, and didn’t really research the town.  We start by walking toward the cathedral, assuming that it will be at the center of things as is usually the case.  It’s not though, and is hard to get to by foot from this direction - it’s not pedestrian friendly, traffic is pretty bad, it’s not really enjoyable; and we lose our way a bit.  For the first time in awhile, I’m concluding that I don’t really care for this place.

As it turns out though, I’ve been unfair.  Asti is just a bit too big and spread out to land in without a plan.  We eventually find our bearings, find the pedestrian zone, find a terrific spot for dinner.  We’ll do better tomorrow, and we’ll do. Bit more advance research before stepping out the door in larger towns.

We didn’t find the Asti cathedral until late in the day, when it was mostly in the shadows. It’s a beautiful and unusual brick structure erected in the fourteen hundreds, described as Piedmontese Gothic. We should swing by earlier in the day to get a better look.
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Among other things, the cathedral impresses for its scale. It feels huge, especially in this late in the day unlit state.
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The walls and ceiling of the cathedral look completely covered in frescoes, though it’s hard to make them out in the dim twilight.
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I’m often surprised by how well my camera does in in low light conditions. Shot without a flash, this gives us a better look at the tapestry-like murals than we could make out with the naked eye.
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In the Asti Cathedral
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It took us some time to find this place, but Osteria Il Podesta was a lovely spot for dinner.
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Our starter, tricolor gnochetti with ham, was almost too pretty to eat.
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The second: duck, with a blueberry reduction. Very welcome, because we’ve just been reading that blueberries are a super fruit, high in antioxidants. We’re eating health food!
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One more for the Cycle 365 Vinouring quest. How appropriate: a Barbera d’Asti, in Asti.
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Moon shot!
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Jacquie GaudetAnd the round shape of the moon is repeated in the clock and the bike racks. Nice!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetWell, naturally I noticed that; else why bother taking the photo? Perceptive of you to spot that though.
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1 month ago

Ride stats today: 36 miles, 2,400’

Today's ride: 36 miles (58 km)
Total: 1,856 miles (2,987 km)

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