Intro to slow travel & to Acqui Terme

October 1, 2010

Charming apartment balcony with trompe l’oeil window above balcony in Acqui Terme

“What cities are you seeing on this trip?”

It’s only natural to ask that of someone traveling thousands of miles to another country. Touring is the most common way to travel. And on our June trip to Ireland and Scotland, we toured. It was our first time in both countries and we were in a different city every few days.

But not this trip. We’re staying put here in Acqui Terme, a city in northern Italy, the Piedmont region, known for its hot sulphur springs.
The water at this steamy little pavilion at the center of town bubbles up at 75 degrees C.

And of course, Italian men like to gather –where else but at the center of town to talk. Last night we saw two people filling jerrycans with the steaming, smelly water that’s believed to have healing powers.

Here’s how we found this place: I met Diana (our host here at the B&B) online on a slow-travel message board in 2005, when I was preparing for a month-long stay in Rome.

Slow travel means staying put for a while, a chance to connect more closely to the people and place. It’s quite different from sightseeing. If it’s your first trip or two to Italy, you probably don’t want to stay in one place like this. But if you’ve seen the major cities and “sights,” you might want to settle into a small town and experience Italy a little more deeply. To “slow travel.”

We love ambling around Acqui Terme.
Town is definitely a place for bicycles and lots of locals of all ages use them to get around.

Apartments can be modern, like the ones above. Love them!

Or a bit more traditional. The apartment buildings always look so interesting and different from what we see in the U.S. I just got my first clothesline so I love seeing clothes hanging to dry.

If you look closely at and around the buildings, you can see all sorts of neat design features. Like this, below.

And even the streets have cute little landscaped corners.

We have several favorite little restaurants and cafes in town. Here are two we stumbled across last year:
We ate here last night. I had a nice little dish of tagliatelle with carne. M. had ravioli with olive oil. The home-made pasta was melt-in-our-mouths good. We both had a salad of bitter greens. Yum.

The trattoria below was closed, even though their sign said that they should have been open. No sign of explanation. But then, things like this happen all the time–it’s Italy. Shops and restaurants open on their own time, which isn’t necessarily posted.

So this visit, like last year’s, is a slow-travel visit. Instead of speeding around from one sight to another, we’re sitting on the terrace, listening to bees. Taking a walk down a country road.We can think about how many eons this way of life has survived. We can imagine what it’s like to live here. We can look at the sky, the hills and we can relax.

If we’re in the mood, we can go down to the old town and walk around. Stop in a prosecco bar to revive ourselves. Like this one.

Or window-shop. Once, we ran across a concert in the square.

Last year we connected with this lovely place and this year it feels like our second home.

Ciao! til later

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