Down to Valle Varaita; A Somewhat Successful Road Trip

Melle Italy Piemonte

Lately, every trip I have tried to take has not turned out how I had hoped. So no surprise after a road trip across the region to Valle Varaita, everywhere I wanted to visit last Friday was closed.

Melle Officina

I had made the trip down to Melle to visit Fioca Gelateria, who I had first met at Salone del Gusto, where they prepared Hay flavored gelato (more incredible than it sounds!). Along with their amazing gelato, I was intrigued by their story. The gelateria, together with a craft brewery was started by young locals who wanted to bring life to their small mountain town. Many small towns all over Italy have been suffering from both depopulation and the problems of an aging population, the younger generations continue to leave for larger cities with more opportunities. Due to this many of these towns are completely disappearing, together with all their heritage.  Before the gelateria, they first started a craft brewery in the area, Officina Antagonisti, in 2012 by Enrico Ponza and Fabio Chicco Ferrua. Though I have yet to try their beer, I already love their motto:

Tutti ti dicono di stare con i piedi per terra, di non sognare a occhi aperti e di vivere la vita con razionalità. Prima sei troppo giovane per farlo e poi sei troppo vecchio per cambiare tutto.

Ti sei mai chiesto perché? Perché se tutti smettessimo di voler navigare in acque tranquille, il mondo sarebbe finalmente pieno di pirati.

Noi siamo gli antieroi.

Noi siamo gli anticonformisti.

Noi siamo gli antipatici.

Noi siamo gli Antagonisti.

Everyone tells you to stay on the ground, not to daydream and to live life rationally.

First, you’re too young to do it and then you’re too old to change everything.

Have you ever wondered why? Because if we all stopped wanting to sail in calm waters, the world would finally be full of pirates.

We are the anti-heroes.

We are the nonconformists.

We are the mean ones.

We are the Antagonists.


Being in the area I also wanted to visit REIS, a restaurant in Frassino, where they serve local cuisine, with ingredients from their own land. the restaurant is an ex-agritourism and is also headed by young chefs and owners, with the same idea of valorizing their territory and the flavors it offers.

Sadly all these were closed. So instead my road trip took a turn and I took the chance to stop at a handful of small towns between Torino and Melle.


Right before Melle, I was drawn by a huge brick church that could be seen against the backdrop of the mountains from the road. So I took a quick stop to explore Venasca.  The church I saw was Maria Assunta, dating back to 1750.

Leaving Venasca and driving back down from the mountains I passed winding roads of orchards filled with Piedmont’s many apple varieties. It was the most beautiful drive, looking out the window, above the apple trees were the low foothills before the snow-topped Monviso and the surrounding mountains.


Through the drive, I passed through the old cities of Piasco and Verzuolo, both of which for lack of parking I didn’t stop in, and instead chose to lunch at the one road town of Falicetto.

Falicetto offered a beautiful small restaurant that was a part of their one hotel, La Vecchia Trattoria del Castello. When I walked in for lunch, I took a look around and realized, I was the only girl. The beautiful sunlit room with linen-dressed tables was filled with all local men coming straight from the orchards. It was a fantastic environment to see them all talking, the waiters and chef all knew every client and would often stop by to talk to them.


I sat down by the window had a delicious Tortino of potato and pancetta, topped with a crema di funghi from local mushrooms, paired with the best Barbera I have ever had from Da Vietti. The meal, ambiance, and prices of La Vecchia Trattoria were incredible and I definitely will be heading back. Though there is nothing much in Falicetto, a dinner and a night at the hotel of La Vecchia Trattoria are definitely worth a visit.

It isn’t often I get to take a little adventure on my own,  and I really loved this one, though it may not have turned out how I hoped. The perfect autumn adventure, I loved the opportunity to explore a new area of Piemonte.

Leave a Reply