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Il Papavero is a delightfully rustic apartment in a stunning location amid forest and hazel groves. If you like backwoods tranquillity and don't need too many mod cons, you can't really get better than this place for the money. Apart from distant agricultural machinery or bonfires, you barely see or hear another human; it's mostly lizards, buzzards, woodpeckers & all sorts of insects (purple emperors?).
Our only caution is that it is so remote: crow-flight distances are deceptive here as the roads are so tiny and tortuous, and as you'll have hired a car to get here, you presumably won't be planning to sit here all day – though it is tempting just to enjoy the quiet and the changing light across the valley. The road this place is on wasn't marked on any map we could find, and you sort of get used to that driving around the Langhe. Get yourself a really good map before you come here, is our advice. That said, driving here is part of the fun. Just expect to spend a lot of your day doing it.
On the subject of driving, Joanne's directions to get here are good, though directions from Alba would be a useful addition as we hired our car there, having got the train from Turin. If you do the same, the new Hertz office is much closer to Mussotto station than to Alba; but get your return ticket before you leave, because there's no ticket office at Mussotto. And if you need to gather your nerve before driving through Alba, we recommend Bar Bun a few yards from Hertz – with parking – for lunch or a chinotto. There's also a handy supermarket on the road out of Alba to stock up for your stay.
It's reassuring to know that Joanne is on hand to deal with any problems. On our first night the water supply ran out (owing to exceptional circumstances, but bear in mind that this is the sort of place where that sort of thing can happen). Despite, we think, being out of the country, Joanne answered her phone and made sure the supply was restored by the following lunchtime. Generally the facilities were good: plentiful solar hot water, comfortable bed, nice linen. Even a couple of decent wine glasses.
All in all, we'd probably rate this place at four-and-a-half stars if that were possible.
There is something magical about driving up winding Italian roads and turning into a mysterious drive. This is what you experience when you first enter the tree lined entrance of Casa Colina. And then there it is,this lovely pale yellow farmhouse oozing rustic character and charm. It's a welcoming house with lots of interesting nooks and crannies including a hayloft. The house has been decorated and furnished sympathetically yet with all the mod cons you need. The bedrooms are cool and spacious with such very comfortable beds. The modern shower rooms are a welcoming bonus. The grounds are stunning, with the swimming pool taking pride of place. To swim in this pool taking in the breathtaking views of surrounding hills must be one of the best things about our stay here.
The nearby towns are a short drive away and full of friendly bars and lovely restaurants. There are also many traditional local Casa's which offer wine tasting with platters of tasty food.
The owners of the property went out of their way to make our stay extremely pleasant. We had an amazing time at Casa Colina and can't wait to return.