Cycling in Piedmont: Day Five. Welcome to Gavi and a Farinata Lunch

The fifth day of the trip took us from Cremolino to Gavi, a village and a beautiful wine region. We said arrivederci to Casa Margherita and started out on a 33.5- mile ride that took us through more rolling hills with vineyards.

The ride, of course, was every adjective I’ve used to this point: tough, challenging climbs among spectacular scenery. And we lucked out again with a sunny day. It even got pretty warm. That one rainy day was just a distant memory. “There was a rainy day?” someone said.

I’d never been to the Gavi region. As wine regions go, it’s as picturesque as the rest of Piedmont. But it still had its own charm and beauty. There were cypress trees, lush greenery, grapevines and even red and orange autumn leaves, especially as we got closer to our hotel, Villa Sparina. What a beautiful place.  

After our morning coffee stop, we made our way to Il Banco in Novi Ligure, a restaurant/bar where we were treated to the local specialty of farinata. It’s like a pancake made of chickpea flour.  It’s baked in a wood fire oven in a really really big, wide pan.

I asked Cristiano if I could make it at home. He laughed and said I would need one of those big pans!

How to make farinata. (Thank you Susan for the video)

I have since researched some recipes and yes, you can make it in a cast iron skillet and then put it in your oven. It’s a pretty simple recipe: chickpea flour, water, olive oil. So first, I need to find chickpea flour. And then I would need to purchase the skillet. (Can I substitute a pizza pan?) I’ll make it once and then the chickpea flour will go next to the semolina flour (used for grissini attempt) and the jar of fennel seeds (taralli attempt) in the corner of my cabinet I like to call, “Ingredients for Italian bread things Jan tried to make.” 

We also ate focaccia with stracchino cheese. This is delicious, delicious, delicious. I’ve only had it once before during a trip to the Cinque Terre in Liguria.

And then our waiter asks us what we’d like for lunch. Some of us ordered a small pizza. Others got a mixed salad, which was the better choice. By the time we were ready to go, we were so full of carbs that the afternoon’s long ride was welcomed. We had seven miles to go, the last two were on a street in the middle of vineyards.  

That evening we had dinner in Gavi, the village. Gavi is known for Cortese di Gavi, a dry white wine, produced in the area. You may also see it labeled “Gavi di Gavi.”

The town was buzzing. There were lots of people out and about. We had a four-course dinner at the Cantine del Gavi and toured the wine cellar, which housed some Barolos from the 1930s that were likely not ever going to be opened.

And then we headed back to our posh, wonderful Villa and, unfortunately, had to ponder how the next day was our last day to ride.

Next: Enjoying beautiful Gavi and a visit to the Fausto Coppi museum.

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