It’s no secret that I love a bit of wellness just as much as I enjoy a gorgeous glass of wine or two. What’s life without a little balance hey? When I get to spend a weekend combing both wellness and wine in a gorgeous luxury hotel in Italy, I could not be happier.
Last month, I was invited to the Relais Sant’uffizio luxury hotel in the North of Italy, an area I had not yet explored. Nestled amongst 16th century gardens and rolling vineyards of Monferrato, this area is one of the most important wine regions in Italy.
After a comfortable 90 minute drive from Milan airport, we were welcomed with open arms and warm smiles. The hotel that once use to be a Monastery dates back to over 500 years ago. In the newly renovated and restored hotel, guests can choose from 54 rooms ranging from 48 square meters of romance in the honeymoon suite or from the more modern style rooms.
On arrival I immediately switched into holiday mode. The open space and fresh air is something I crave desperately living in the thick of London, and the endless green hills had me gazing into the distance. Here are a few highlights of visiting the Relais Sant’uffizio and the surrounding areas:
After a delicious introduction to the hotel’s cuisine in their restaurant, we were ready to explore the immediate area with a guided tour on bike. And don’t worry if you’re not up for the exercise. The tour comes with e-bikes, which help with the undulating hills that hug the hotels perimeter. I’m an outdoorsy girl at heart, so I loved exploring the surrounding towns on bike. Wind in my hair and a child like sense of adventure, we were off!
After an adventurous afternoon, it was time to unwind in the hotel’s wellness spa. In the method of monastic practice of many centuries ago, the spa menu has an extensive collection of delightful treatments on offer. The spa area faces onto the wooded parklands and gardens, making it the ideal place to daydream and unwind.
I opted for a Ayurveda massage which aims to rebalance mind and body through the four Natural levels (Water, Earth, Fire and Air). My therapist was professional and experienced and left me feeling utterly relaxed. The panoramic sauna was also my favourite during the stay, as you had a view out into the gardens. Also on offer is the Turkish bath, Mediterranean bath and ice waterfall – with the later being a little too bit cold for my liking (I am a total chicken when it comes to the cold).
Private yoga classes can be organised through the hotel’s reception that is serviced by a range of local yoga instructors. You can practice outside on the terrace (if weather permits) or inside if it’s a little cooler. Please give at least 24 hours notice to be able to secure your class. I happened to be teaching during this trip but the space we got to practice in was equal parts relaxing and invigorating.
After visiting Italy over 15+ times, I’m pleasantly surprised that vegetarian and gluten free options are appearing more frequently on menus presented. I’m not 100% veg or gluten free, but I do look for these healthier options when dining out so frequently during blogging trips. I’m happy to say that Relais Sant’uffizio have taken a considerable effort in offering multiple options for all vegans, vegetarians and gluten sensitive diners. The waiters and chefs are more than happy to change any meal on the menu to suit your dietary needs.
Not too far from the hotel lies a town that overflows with the expensive yet delicious delicacy of the truffle. Before visiting Alba, I’d never seen truffles in their original form. They come in white or black and are found buy the truffle hunters and their dogs.
Not as sexy too at as they are to eat, but my eyes balked at the price of 4000 euros per kilogram when they were being weighed up at Tartufi Morra (the oldest truffle broker in town). You can purchase your own and bring to any restaurant in town (strange but true) and the chef will add them to your dish for a small fee. I was a little overwhelmed with the smell of all the truffles in one place, but I can’t resist a sprinkle of truffles on just about everything. Especially truffle cheese!
Another little wonder north of Relais Saint’uffizio is the UNESCO listed town of Sacro Monte di Crea. Tourists are drawn to area to climb up to the Cappella Il Paradiso. A steady walk up to the top of the mountain reveals a gorgeous chapel dating back to the 16th century. On the journey up to the ruins of the castle, you will pass the 7 chapels before reaching the top (should only take 10 minutes at the most). The panoramic view and stillness at the top is a place to rest, breath and take in the surroundings.
Probably one of my favourite parts of the visit to Piemonte was the tour of Tenuta Tengalia winery. Owned and run by German born Sabine Ehrmann, the winery slogan is “wine is love” and love is what Sabine has for this region. The winery covers over 30 hectares of cultivated vineyards that produce over 120,000 bottles per year. Our group were treated to a private tour of the winery that continued onto a wine tasting in their oversized dining room.
We tasted the local cheeses and preserves as we were guided glass by glass by Sabine herself. Although I LOVED every wine, my two favourites would have to be the Eden Rose and the Barbera d’art Giorgio Tengalia. If only I could have sneaked a few bottles in my carry on luggage!! The Eden Rose was light and fruity and would be my choice for a summer wine. The Barbera d’art Giorgio Tengalia was nicknamed the “Sunday Wine” which was rich and deep and perfect to pair with a Sunday roast.
After visiting the Relais Saint’uffizio and the areas around Pietmonte, it stirred me to keep exploring Italy year after year. This area is decadently filled with culture, great food and amazing wine. The hotel is your ideal base for a cheeky wine filled weekend away and the perfect opportunity to unwind after the exploring the neighbouring areas. Just make sure you pack your active gear to be able to enjoy the truffle, pasta and wine each day. I know a morning workout helps me make room for more of that delicious truffle risotto!
For more information about the hotel you can visit the Relais Saint’uffizio website. Now I think I need a glass of Barbera d’art Giorgio Tengalia. It is Sunday after all!