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Postcard from Genova

Greetings from Genova! We had a one night visit in Genova and I can already say, it’s a hidden gem.

A vibrant city with so many contradictions, small alleys and big palazzos, historical city of banks and fishermen, so many gastronomical delicacies like pesto sauce, farinata (kind of focaccia made from chickpea flours), everything fritto (!), ligurian olive oil etc…You can smell the sea, feel the sea breeze, walk in the cozy old town, visit beautiful museums and Europe’s largest aquarium, take a boat ride by the sea…

Need to do more exploring in the future, this summer Palazzo Ducale has a Magnum photo agency’s exhibition about Italy, that’s on my list for next visit to Genova!

By car: 1,5 hours drive from Agnes & Albin
By train: 1,5-2 hours from Nizza Monferrato train station (you’ll have to change train once)

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Time for bubbles!

It’s official! Great news! Majority of Italian regions will be ”zona gialla” starting from next monday and Piedmont is one of those regions.

Gialla means yellow and it’s the lowest corona alert stage in Italy. It means that we are slowly returning to normality. I’m not listing all the changes, only those most relevant to us and our guests. So starting from monday:

All shops will be open

Restaurants operating open air can be open for lunch and dinner (4 persons/table or even more if you live together)

Museums open their doors (for weekends you’ll have to reserve your visiting slot)

Movies & theaters & events can start activities, first in open air and with reservation

Sport activity, including training in team, is allowed outdoors, public swimming pools and gyms will open later.

You can move freely from one region to another, if those areas are both in ”zona gialla”. For us this means, we can drive for example to the seaside of Liguria!

Of course many restrictions apply to all of those activities mentioned above (opening hours, limited amount of customers, reservations in advance, keeping always distances…). And there is still a curfew from 22-05 in every region. On the other hand, being home early equals to good night sleep…right?

Now all thumbs up that this will be a start for a new, better era. At least, we can all enjoy this open air season! We are opening a bottle of local Metodo Classico -bubbles (made in champagne method) for these news, for sure! 

Contratto’s For England Rosè seems appropriate, so we can congratulate also them for taking steps back to normality 🙂 Kippis! Per salute!

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Safe travels

Renting a private holiday house from countryside is probably the most safe way to travel and experience the world this summer.

We are happy to welcome you under the italian sun with to most safe way. Wearing a mask in public areas, maintaining a distance for others and sanitazing hands frequently are a new normal here and everyone respects those rules. Also, when entering a shop or restaurant, normally your body temperature is being checked.

Italy has of course it’s own travel restrictions and from these links you can check which applies to you, when entering Italy.

Governments information site for travellers entering to Italy

Governments questionary site, provides same information as the site above, but in more user friendly questionary form.

Situation is changing all the time, as we know, but probably this summer you still need to have certificate for negative test result when entering (wild guess:)) and also when returning home (depending your home country and it’s rules, of course). Good news is that getting a test and certificate here in Italy is easy and affordable. Here in Piedmont you can take use of our pharmacies, which do rapid tests. Book an appointment in advance, go and take a test, you will have results and a certificate for travelling in few minutes. Prices range from 35-40 euros.

Stay safe everyone and hope to see you this summer!

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Holiday house mood

What makes a holiday house? What you can expect when you book your stay at Agnes & Albin?

Agnes & Albin is a private house in a small village. It means we have neighbours, but it means also that you will be in the middle of Italian true life. The house still feels very private and tranquil, it has a big gate and walls surrounding the yard. 

Big pool is a must in a holiday house, and we created one last summer! We are thrilled to open it soon for a new season.

Terraces and different kinds of ”hang out -areas” are also important. Big tables for gatherings, different spots for reading a book in the shade…

I could continue the list forever, but the most important thing maybe is a good mood and good soul. A place where you can relax in your own world. This house has the mood for a holiday, I can tell you!

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Nizza DOCG

Agnes & Albin is perfectly located at the ”monferrato” wine area, which is especially known for Barbera wines and producers of high quality Nizza Docg version. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nizza_DOCG

Our house is surrounded by quality producers such as Olim Bauda, Cantine Brema, Braida, Scarpa etc. Here is a list of some producers https://www.vinorandum.com/appellation/nizza-docg

Besides barbera also great whites are produced in this part of Piedmont and some great vintage bubbles at our bubbly neighbor town Canelli https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canelli

More about those later!

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Foggy season

Light rain, lots of fog, sunshine every now and then…sounds like very early spring! I’m sure nature is trying to preserve all the water and humidity for the hot summer. We already have a promise of summer, our camelia tree is starting to bloom! 

Long walks are the best things in this season. Air is just so easy to breathe and you can see how the nature is slowly waking up! Foggy villages are also dreamy, like walking in a movie scene. Totally different mood. And then suddenly comes the sun and the fog disappears and you are in a different world!

After walk some comfort food and a good book with glass of wine is recommended. It’s all about the balance.

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Aubergine tomato pasta

We love cooking and especially simple cooking, when all the ingredients can shine on a plate! That’s basic here in Italy and that is one reason I love cooking here so much. Nothing complicated, but simple things with quality ingredients. 

Right now I’m creating our house recipes. Recipes that will be easy to cook in our kitchen or outdoors. Recipes that will be great for entertaining. Recipes with quality ingredients. Lots of veggies, but local meat and frutti di mare, too.

This aubergine tomato pasta ticks the boxes! Easy peasy and super delicious!

Aubergine tomato pasta 
(For 4 eaters)

2 middle sized aubergines (or 1 big)
200 g cherry tomatoes
5 garlic gloves
grated zest of 1 lemon (only the yellow part!)
pinch of peperonchino
1 tbsp capers
pinch of salt
1 dl olive oil

Heat the oven for 200C. Cut aubergines into cubes (about size of a cherry tomato), peel garlic gloves, halve tomatoes. Mix all the ingredients above in an oven pan. Roast in the oven for 40-45 minutes, until everything is well cooked and you have a lovely aroma in your kitchen.

400 g spaghetti

Meanwhile your veggies are cooking in the oven, cook spaghetti al dente as advised in your spaghetti package.

When veggies are done, add:

squeezed juice of 1 lemon
black pepper, freshly ground

Mash veggies with a fork and mix well. There it is, your pasta sauce! (You can add some spaghetti boiling water, if your sauce is too thick) Taste and season with salt if necessary. Mix cooked spaghetti with your sauce in the oven pan. And finally add:

grated parmesan, as much as you like!
(Roasted and chopped hazelnuts or almonds, this is optional, though gives nice crunchy feel!)

Bring pasta pan into table and enjoy with a glass of barbera wine and great conversations.

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New year, new travel plans

We are so happy to set the table for 2021, may it be a good year for everyone.

For us the year 2020 was a year to create Agnes & Albin. Now we really hope this year will be a year to finally share it. We already have some reservations – thank you friends of Agnes & Albin! We are so happy you have thought of us when planning future trips.

Now we have opened our reservation calendar for independent Annex house (sleeps 2 adults + 2 small children) and we are also renting the whole property for private use for limited weeks this summer. 

Annex house reservations via Airbnb https://airbnb.com/h/agnesandalbinatelje

Weeks available for renting the whole property (bookings via email agnesandalbin(at)gmail.com):

26.6-3.7.2021

10-17.7.2021

7-14.8.2021

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Gardening season

This feel so crazy for a finn, but the gardening season is here! Now it’s the moment to cut trees and plant new ones.

We are getting our lawn fixed after the pool construction project and some new plants around the pool. Look, this picture says it all – it will be a green summer next year!

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Figs everywhere

Oh my, we have figs this year! This our first year to harvest figs and we are excited.

We love figs and now we are enjoying them everyday. These sweet treats go so well with yogurt in the morning or with cheeses in the evening, pure love! The best experience is to grab a sweet ripe fig straight from the tree for a snack while you are lounging in the pool – the best kind of natural luxury.

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Ready, steady, swim!

Our pool and it’s surrounding stone pavements are finally ready and we couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

Pool itself feels like an oasis now when we are living the hot summer months. But the thing that makes me most happy is the use of local stone and recycled bricks in the sun deck and walls. With the use of local and old materials it feels like this pool has always been here. It blends with the house beautifully.

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Simple things

Simple & Good – that’s my cooking philosophy. It’s a food philosophy extremely easy to follow here in Italy, where everyone seem to eat what is in season (=at it’s best).

I have noticed that you hardly see ingredients in shops / supermarkets that aren’t in season. Not to mention the outdoor food markets. For example it’s hard to find an avocado when it’s not in season. And that is only a very good thing. Right now the stone fruit season is starting. Don’t you just love the sweet taste of really ripe stone fruits! Apricots are my favourite at the moment.