Day 7: Mondovì – Barolo

Distance: 45.7 km

Time: 2 hours 27 minutes

Average speed: 18.7 kph


Cumulative distance: 346.37 km

Cumulative time: 16 hours 43 minutes


Word of the day: ‘verde’ (vair-day) – green


The pasta and porcini mushroom sauce we’d purchased at the salumeria were absolutely delicious. We’d been out to a ridiculously picturesque square for an aperitivo first (with accompanying lovely crostini), then enjoyed our spoils back at the apartment, with a bottle of Dolcetta, the grapes grown in Dogliani, the wine bottled in Sciolli, just outside Mondovì.

This morning we packed up and headed out, taking breakfast at a café first, brioche cioccolati and cappuccino, good fuel for the climb out of Mondovì. It was a little uninteresting at first, but soon enough we reached Vicoforte, a place several people had recommended for a visit. The main attraction is the sanctuary, an elliptical dome with square towers at each corner. It seemed huge, but it’s clearly a reverse Tardis, it seemed much smaller on the inside. Every inch was frescoed, with some amazing trompe-l’oeil at the top of the dome. We didn’t go right in, there were signs asking for respect in behaviour and dress, and since we were fully Lycra’d, it seemed inappropriate. Outside was an extensive Saturday market, not food but plants and other greenery.

Climbing back on, we completed the climb, and then looking back the way we’d come spotted Mondovì alta, specifically the clock tower we’d visited yesterday afternoon. It looked incredible, all terracotta, perched on top of the hillside.

The descent was fabulous, kilometre after kilometre, shallow enough to let the tandem run. The first vineyards appeared, and we passed the slopes of Dogliani, the source of last night’s wine. We crossed the Tanaro river repeatedly, quite the meander, with steep chalky cliffs outside its many curves.

All too soon the valley run was done, and we faced the final climb, just 7km to Barolo, but a big ridge to conquer first. There were signs to bars and restaurants at Monchiero, and we’d planned to have lunch, but everywhere was closed. It’s the day of the Festa Nazionale today, so probably not surprising. We ate a quick cereal bar to fuel for the climb, and then crawled up. It was horribly hot, but the scenery was incredible, beautiful rolling hills in every direction, every possible inch planted with vines.

It was green. All green. As far as the eye could see.

Neither of us could really remember where the end of the climbing was, nor whether Barolo was a hilltop town, but eventually we spotted it in a bowl below, and glided down to arrive at Hotel Barolo, where we’ll spend two nights, and tomorrow, the Captain’s birthday. A quick shower and lunch, and we felt like a milestone had been reached, with the arrival of the first rest day, tomorrow (and hence no blog).

I’m writing this by the pool, looking out over endless vineyards, whose grapes this year will make Barolo wine to be enjoyed not yet, but in years to come. We were here in 2006, just at harvest time. Maybe we’ll have some wine from that vintage tonight.

Here’s today’s track