Last Tuesday I went to Serravalle Scrivia for the presentation of the new tourism promotion project #ThinkSerravalle. I know, I know... this article has been a bit delayed! But between the writing of my sparkling wine guide, a splendid wine shop to be finished in Japan (I can't wait to show it to you!) and commitments around Italy to follow up on important projects with my clients, I have had a really busy week... I will make it up to you by organising #ThinkSerravalle with a beautiful article! ?

Let's start with the basics: I was contacted by the PR Isobar Communications for an invitation to the Press Conference dedicated to a new way of communicating the Gavi territory, #ThinkSerravalle indeed, which, since it also has a strong wine tourism connotation, also required the presence of a wine blogger 'on the ball' with the throngs of journalists who had filled the room of the wonderful wine cellar Villa Sparina. I would now like to take this opportunity to congratulate Isobar Communications for its impeccable organisation of communications, characterised by a timeliness and meticulousness that is truly rare in the world of wine.

Together with other journalists, I left from Milano Cadorna on a big prehistoric bus that arrived after a good 1 hour, replacing the small and very very cool one we were supposed to use instead. Patience, on the way back I was very comfortable thanks to Marco, a really professional and nice driver who drove a beautiful Mercedes just for me... no, wait! Also in the back were two very nice journalists from The Press that were lost in the McArthurGlen Serravalle Designer Outlet shopping and that we had to wait for over half an hour before returning to Milan!!! ?

#ThinkSerravalle/1: Libarna Archaeological Area

#thinkserravalle archaeological area libarna

First stop on our Gavi tour to experience first-hand the fantastic experiences of #ThinkSerravalle. I was an epic sleeper because I had not slept at all the night before as I had been with Davide in one of the most exclusive clubs in Milan, the 1930 Secret Bar and we were back in Brescia shortly after one in the morning. In the morning, to be at Milano Cadorna on time, I left at dawn... and waiting an hour for the replacement bus standing in the cold was not a good start to the day, although it was certainly nobody's fault and breakdowns, alas, do happen! However in thearchaeological area of Libarna an exquisite snack of the historic Baci di Libarna and an apricot nectar so thick, tasty and good that I must call this Zerbo farm to ask if it sends! The Baci di Libarna then, really, are the best biscuits I have eaten in my 32 years of life... and I hope I can 'bribe' someone to get the recipe! ?

#thinkserravalle archaeological area libarna

Along provincial road 35 'dei Giovi', between Arquata Scrivia and Serravalle Scrivia in the province of Alessandria, the remains of the ancient Roman city of Libarna emerge. The amphitheatre, theatre, two residential quarters and some urban streets are visible, while the thermal baths, uric gates and forum have been re-interred after archaeological excavations. The origin of the city dates back to the tracing of the Via Postumia around 148 BC, which connected Genoa with Aquileia. The rediscovery of the city occurred on the occasion of the Turin-Genoa royal road around 1820.

I must say that observing and walking among the remains of an ancient Roman city had a certain effect on me. I tiptoed into their dwellings, so well defined around the cardinal maximus. I imagined their lives, in the ancient splendour of Rome, watching a tragedy and eating Baci di Libarna lying on a comfortable bed on the mosaic floor of my Triclinium. By the way, did you know that these delicious biscuits are also the recovery of an ancient recipe?

#thinkserravalle archaeological area libarna

Then I won't tell you the joy of knowing that since 2012, studies have been underway to transform the former cellar house within the archaeological area of Libarna into a museum and visitors' centre, with funding from the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities deriving from Lotto revenue. Well done! I know, it will only be a small part of all the revenue stolen from ignorant Italians unable to bet on the only game they really have a chance of winning. The Lotto then is just the tip of the iceberg of a country fleeced by gambling. But I'm glad all the same. ?

"We are a country of mathematical illiterates, where a lot of people admit that they understand nothing about mathematics, without feeling the sense of shame or discomfort that they would show if they said they could not read or write. Scientific thinking, in Italy, is not seen as a tool for navigating reality. Except, of course, by those who design and make money from the game, who know a lot about mathematics."

Marco Verani, Professor of Mathematics at the Politecnico di Milano

Mathematics is not an opinion. That is also why I love it very much, or not at all.

#ThinkSerravalle/2: Villa Sparina Resort & Press Conference

#thinkserravalle villa sparina wine cellars

The second stop was in the wonderful wine cellars of Villa Sparinaset up for the press conference of #ThinkSerravalle. Villa Sparina is a lot, but a lot, of stuff. Set in the scenic Monterotondo vineyards, it is an 18th-century farmhouse complex of great external charm, but it is in the extraordinary historic cellars that it is at its best. And then they were really good with the set-up they prepared to enchant us journalists, lighting part of the rooms only with the help of candelabras and lanterns with small candles.

#thinkserravalle villa sparina cellars 1

Founded around 1970, the Villa Sparina wine cellar is owned by the Moccagatta family and has around 100 hectares (70 of which are cultivated with native vines) in the heart of Gavi and Monferrato.

#thinkserravalle villa sparina cellars 2

What's more, I discovered that since the late 1990s they have been separately vinifying a small cru of Cortese dating back to 1945 and making it the heart of their production, a Gavi called Monterotondo, which I did not have the pleasure of tasting on this day.

#thinkserravalle press conference

In the presence of Alberto Carbone, Mayor of Serravalle Scrivia, Antonella Parigi, Piedmont Region Councillor for Culture and Tourism, Giovanni Ferraris, Piedmont Region Councillor for Sport, the Prefect of Alessandriaall the partners in the initiative told a more or less attentive crowd of journalists about a project that does indeed have several commendable points. Except for one really boring speech that alas lasted several minutes, I heard the interesting points of view of the Piedmont Region's Councillor for Culture and Tourism, Antonella Parigi. And I saw in this heterogeneous group of representatives from art, culture, shopping, sport, and food and wine the desire to offer visitors to Gavi a multifaceted offer based on sound principles of collaboration and enhancement of resources.

#thinkserravalle villa sparina sparkling wine

God forbid the journalist who, according to him, knew how to recognise good food and good wine and who did nothing but complain from Milano Cadorna about every sacrosanct thing: I couldn't take it any more. I remember the meaning of his words: 'if they could sparkle shit they would do that too'. Well I didn't mind this classic method sparkling wine from Villa Sparina made from pure Cortese grapes and aged for over 60 months on the lees. I would need to re-taste it calmly and with concentration to get a precise idea, but these catastrophic tones I did not really understand. On the contrary, as a sommelier, taster and editor of the most complete sparkling wine guide in Italy (complete I don't mean in terms of the number of labels included, but in terms of regional variety), which will be available to the public directly on this website from 6 November 2017, I really appreciate those who innovate the tradition of classic method sparkling wines by choosing 'unconventional' grape varieties. And, around Italy, I have discovered some unbelievable gems in regions historically unthinkable for sparkling wine! Curious? One more month of patience! ?

#thinkserravalle villa sparina resort

The aperitif was really tasty thanks to the overall good quality of the dishes. Mention of honour for the schiacciate di pane (bread crumbs) that used to be made to tell when the oven was hot: delicious and just right with salt.

#thinkserravalle villa sparina resort

The risotto, on the other hand, didn't excite me because the chef probably had missed the onion! However, my very jealous spitzino Paco certainly appreciated his idea of limiting the kisses I would exchange with Davide in the evening at home because of my vaguely heavy breath!!! ?

#ThinkSerravalle/3: Forte di Gavi


At the Fortress of Gavi I fell in love. I mean, can you see them? They are the heart of theOrder of the Knights of Raviolo and Cortese di Gavi, in memory of the Marquisate of Gavi (1070-1202) during which filled pasta was invented at the Raviolo inn on the road from Genoa to the Po Valley (which, not surprisingly, is rich in filled pasta!). The centrepiece of life in the Order of the Knights of Raviolo are the two chapters, during which new knights are appointed, one at the end of spring and one after the Rosary, according to the ancient Gavi custom of glorifying the famous ravioli.

The enthronement ritual follows that of the Marquis of Gavi with their vassals and valvassors. The medieval broad and short sword descends first on the shoulders, symbols of strength and sentiment, and then on the head of the neophyte as if to augur wisdom. The Order's aims are to exalt and propagandise: a) the ravioli that originated here during the 12th century Marquisate of Gavib) Cortese wine, which in the Gavi area reaches the highest expression of goodness and finesse(c) what is valuable in local gastronomy, also with a view to safeguarding it.

How can you not love them? However, I would also like the recipe for Raviolo di Gavi eh! ?

#hinkserravalle forte di gavi raviolo

The visit to the Fort of Gavi was truly fascinating! Possibly built on a pre-dominant fortification, perhaps on the castle of the French princess Gavia during the Saracen and Hungarian invasions around the 10th century, it was certainly donated to the Republic of Genoa in 1191 along with the nearby village of Gavi, which enlarged it into a Fort. In 1624, Friar Vincenzo Maculani (who later became a Cardinal), in collaboration with the Genoese architect Bartolomeo Bianco, endowed the structure with six impregnable bastions that took advantage of the fort's strategic position, set in the rock on the overhang of the village of Gavi. Conquered once by the Savoy, it was recaptured by the Genoese after just 21 days, never to fall into enemy hands again until it was handed over to Napoleon at the request of Genoa itself. Disarmed in 1859, during the First World War it became a prison camp for Austro-Hungarians, and then a concentration camp for Anglo-American officers during the Second World War. In the time between the two wars, experimental vines were planted in some of the embankments of the Fortress on behalf of the Anti-Filosser Consortium. Today, the Association of Friends of the Fortress of Gavi guided us on a beautiful and friendly visit by Luigi, who betrays an exquisitely Tuscan sympathy, and whom I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart.

#hinkserravalle forte di gavi knights raviolo


#ThinkSerravalle/4: La Raia winery

#hinkserravalle vini la raia

We are almost at the end of our day in the Gavi region trying out the experiences reserved for visitors to Serravalle Scrivia by the #ThinkSerravalle project, and among them is another worthwhile wine stop at the winery The Raia which produces interesting biodynamic wines. Of course, I can't say that I did an in-depth tasting because we were in a hurry, and I admit that I would have liked to have spent half an hour more strolling through the vineyards and half an hour less waiting in the car for the late journalists who had preferred to stroll at the McArthurGlen Serravalle Designer Outlet! Fortunately, the kind Tina Guiducci and Elena Passi read my mind and proceeded to invite me to their winery to taste their wines! I will be happy to accept the invitation as soon as I have finished my sparkling wine guide! In the meantime, I anticipate that the Gavi DOCG Pisé La Raia I loved it! It comes from a Cortese vineyard that is more than 70 years old located 400 metres above sea level and has a very rich nose, including notes of ripe pear and honey.

#ThinkSerravalle/5: McArthurGlen Serravalle Designer Outlet

#thinkserravalle mcarthurglen outlet serravalle

There, I admit I have a limitation as a woman: I am not so much a fashion victim. Of course I adore good taste in clothes, handbags, outerwear, and I really appreciate daring but classy combinations... and I know that every now and then I need a shake up because I admit that when I like an item of clothing and it suits me, I buy several identical pairs... mainly because this way I have one less thing to think about when I wake up and I feel fresher for the things I have to do after breakfast, and also because I save time in front of the wardrobe! So basically the McArthurGlen Serravalle Designer Outlet is not the place for me, but I spent a very pleasant afternoon there with the journalist Bettina Bush of the L'Espresso Groupafter becoming 'travelling companions' in the beautiful black Mercedes E-class provided by the organisation for the day's transfers. Antonello, our driver from Regiardo & Speronihe was really super and pampered us at all times! We had a lot of fun at the outlet and found some really beautiful things, so much so that if I spent another 15 minutes there I risked becoming a compulsive shopper myself, especially a beautiful Pinko blue ruffled down jacket... Bettina Bush also introduced me to a brand I didn't know but which makes some really beautiful and special things! The McArthurGlen Serravalle Designer Outlet is architecturally very beautiful and there are wonderful shops... and I find its role in promoting tourism in the area commendable. #NonSoloShopping 


And finally, the best thing: coming home at 10pm exhausted... after an intense day and with just 3 hours of sleep behind me... and finding dinner ready... and what a dinner! A delicious gorgonzola and walnut risotto that Davide cooked for me! I, however, relaunched with many delicious gifts left by the various places I visited during the day! Special mention for the Giusy's Kisses, as good as you can imagine! I almost call them for the recipe... ?

At this point I'd say you can take a little trip to the official website #ThinkSerravalle by clicking HERE and organise a wonderful weekend in the heart of Gavi!!!



P.S. As always for the photos I thank Universo Foto for the wonderful Sony RX100 M4 which I love... and which I am slowly learning to use with great personal satisfaction! I know that Isobar Communications has made all the photos of the day available to us, and there are also beautiful photos in between... but we are fed up with seeing newspapers and blogs online with photos that are all the same, and we are already fed up with copy-and-paste articles from press releases, aren't we? So I only borrowed one photo of the archaeological area of Libarna and one of the Fortress of Gavi!

sony universe photo

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