Monday, 3 November 2014

Ingredients for a weekend in Oltrepo' di Pavese

View from Agriturismo Mondo Antico, Oltrepo Pavese.
We combined these ingredients for a relaxing autumn weekend in the wine growing region of the Oltrepo' Pavese.
Image from HERE
One large scoop of local knowledge.
"Explore the hills and countryside below Pavia for some great local wines," said the lady from the Vigevano tourist office.  That was the plan.

Add a Fiat 500
Although we like to catch trains, sometimes hiring a car is necessary.  Our car of choice is the Italian favourite, the Cinque-Cento.  This one was an automatic, a rare thing in Italy.  Stefano was surprised to discover that it wasn't bad at all, even on the hills.
Add a portion of famous churches or monasteries.
We added both.
Certosa is a tiny town with a big reputation located just outside Pavia.  It is famous for one thing, an incredibly ornate Gothic/Renaissance style church which has a monastery attached.  The Cistercian order of monks still live in the monastery and conduct tours of their 'home'.  Every half an hour one of the monks gathers the crowd of visitors waiting patiently at the gates inside the church.  There are rare tours in English, but we chose to practice our Italian listening comprehension skills. Always up for a challenge to add a little spice to the recipe.

Once again we learned about the famous Visconti family who were the original owners of the Certosa complex.  The interior and exterior of the church are equally ornate and fascinating, but even more interesting was the tour of the lovely gardens and the monks' cells built around a huge courtyard for contemplation and prayer.  While we didn't catch all the monk's jokes, we understood that life must have been relatively comfortable as each 'cell' was comprised of a couple of rooms with its own courtyard, where the monks grew food, in addition to working the common land and spending much of their time in solitary prayer.

Lastly add the essential ingredient - A great agriturismo.
Agriturismi are definitely our preferred form of accommodation in Italy.
 In our experience, these uniquely Italian 'farm stays' offer lovely rooms, great fresh food usually grown on the farm, delicious wine, again usually produced on site, and charming hosts.  
Guilianna and Lucrezia our hosts at Mondo Antico
We stayed for just one night at Agriturismo Mondo Antico about 30 minutes drive from the lovely university town of Pavia.  Like many agriturismos, Mondo Antico has its own restaurant, perfect for dining in after a day of driving and sightseeing.  
Guilianna was our friendly hostess and her daughter, Lucrezia assisted her mother in the dining room.  The highlight of dinner was Guilianna's risotto. Simply made with just cream, butter, rice and parmesan but it was cooked to perfection.  Delicious. 

Stefano filled the boot of our little car with a box, or two, of the family's wine after Lucrezia took us on a tour of their vineyard. Wine making is her father's passion. 

Finish with the secret ingredient

We woke to a cool misty morning. The area is famous for fog and mist during winter and autumn. To us it added the flourishing touch of atmosphere to our autumn weekend. However, Lucrezia reminded us that the mist isn't quite as exotic when it settles in for weeks at a time, especially not when she is commuting to university in Pavia.

Grazie mille Guilianna e Lucrezia per la tua generosita. Speriamo tornare nella primavera per un altre fine settimana. 

Prossima volta a Grossio e Bormio con mia sorella. Ci vediamo. 

Certosa can easily be reached by train.  CLICK HERE for more details.
For more information about Mondo Antico Agriturismo CLICK HERE and for reviews of this lovely agriturismo CLICK HERE.


  1. One more thing to add to our list when we return ...

    1. Yes indeed, and we'd recommend hiring a Fiat 500.

  2. You'll have to turn your blog posts into a book Jen. Would be a great guide to Italy! Another lovely place and post!

    1. Very kind Therese. Still so many places to explore and so much wine to taste!

  3. What a beautiful part of Italy for a weekend escape. I love the green lush rolling hills and that church in Certosa. Italy is definitely on my bucket list within the next year or two.