Blog I Good Travel

holiday in Italy

Italian flair, good food, magnificent views: Cascine Crema

Our guest author Anja Dilk is visiting Cascine Crema and reports about her wonderful stay.

Urs swings out, the ax penetrates deeply into the wood. Afterwards it's pizza night. The stone oven at the edge of the pool takes three hours and fifty kilograms of wood to become as hot as purgatory. Enough time to open the long tables, spread out the tablecloths, lay out the marble slabs, rolling pins, pizza boards and the many small balls of dough that Susan kneaded in the morning.

18.30:15 p.m. The oven is glowing, the first XNUMX guests stroll in from their apartments with trays full of pizza toppings, wine, olives and bread. “So,” says Susan, sprinkles a little flour on the marble slab, grabs a ball, waller, waller, sauce on it, toppings on top, off to the thin pizza board. “Then you go to Urs at the oven, okay?”

It smells of laurel hedges, tomato sauce and crispy dough. The sky behind the pool glows purple, and the view stretches far over the hilly landscape of Piedmont. The guests toast each other with red wine, Susan smiles. “Lovely, isn’t it?”

Pizza dough
Make your own pizza
Accommodation with pizza oven

Visiting friends

The Casino Crema in Piedmont is like a second home. Individually handmade instead of off-the-shelf furnishings, welcomed by hosts instead of hotel managers: Urs and Susan von Arx. “We don’t want to be service workers, we want to be friendly holiday companions,” says Susan. Sometimes she organizes joint trips to the nearby sea, sometimes a quick visit to the winemaker. Whether it's the weekly pizza evening or the eight-course meal by the pool, cooked by a local chef friend, Susan and Urs are always at the table with a repertoire of exciting stories about the region in their luggage.

5 course menu
5 course menu by the pool

Emigrate to the World Heritage Site of Piedmont

The Swiss couple bought the farm in 2002. She is a strategic planner at an advertising agency, he Project manager in an IT company. When the children came, They decided: We want to have more time for the family. But reduce working hours in expensive Switzerland? Hardly possible. “We’re moving to Piedmont,” decided Urs and Susan. They had had a holiday home there since 1994, enthusiastic about the good food, the great landscape, and a region that is nowhere near as crowded as Tuscany and is still a world heritage site. “Piedmont is a 6 in the lottery,” says Susan. “We were sure: There is a demand for nice accommodation here.” In 2003, Susan and Urs packed their bags and emigrated with their two small daughters.

Six kilometers above the town of Cortemilla lies the old farm, a group of natural stone houses surrounded by vineyards, woods and hazelnut plantations. In the early 2000s, cousins, the old heirs to their family's decaying farm, lived where three dozen people once lived in a thriving economic community. They heat with wood stoves and make their living largely from the small field behind the house. At least there is already electricity.

Cascine crema
Cascine crema

Susan and Urs turn stables and utility rooms into holiday apartments. Today they are still called after their original purpose: Casa Coniglio, the former rabbit hutch, Casa Fienile, the old barn or Casa Seta, the silk spinning mill. The expansion will take a good ten years. The family worked and lived their way from house to house. As soon as one was finished, it was rented out. The money earned is immediately reinvested in the next renovation. 

Holiday apartment in Piedmont

Sometimes industrial look, sometimes rustic, sometimes classic

Lunchtime at Cascine Crema. At the pool a couple is dozing under the white awnings, lifeguard Paolo has retreated into the shade of the bar, most of the guests are chilling in the cool interior of the stone houses. Your interior is a dream of good style and sustainability. Urs and Susan used what could be used. Urs carves tables and window sills from the old chestnut floors, the old stone roofs are turned into forecourts, and the roofs are restored using only local wood. Local craftsmen are hired, a pool is dug, and a photovoltaic system is installed that produces more electricity than the farm consumes. Susan browses through classified ads and drives around the country, collecting furniture and accessories from the region with a keen eye for design and the right mix of old and new, cool and rough. Sometimes industrial look, sometimes rustic, sometimes classic. The mighty pool table from the bankruptcy of an old Swiss luxury hotel is now in the former drying room of the homestead, the hotel dishes are in the kitchen cupboards of the holiday apartments. Urs is building a playhouse for children in the former chicken coop and a laundry room is being built in the goat barn. Urs: “Crafts are the driving force of my life.” Susan: “Holidays in the Maldives would be a horror for him.”

Upcycling furniture

About the love of being hosts

Today the couple lives in Alba, a picturesque town 35 kilometers away. The daughters have long since grown up and, in addition to their jobs and studies, are taking on the administration of the rental from Switzerland. Urs organizes the change of guests on Saturdays, checks technology, repairs where necessary, shows the new arrivals the apartment, pool, sports field, trampoline and opens the creaking door to the specialty cellar - regional wine, olives, sauces for the guests to buy directly. Susan takes care of dinner evenings, event tips from the region and furnishings. “I love being a hostess.” In the high season, families with children come, most of them from German-speaking countries. In the off-season, young couples, pensioners, and sports enthusiasts seek the peace and quiet of the Cascine. “We have great guests, not so chic, very happy and relaxed.”

People like Tomas, Sabine, Lara and Leo, who are currently plowing through the pool. They traveled from the Black Forest for a week. “We wanted something different, not so mainstream, but rather enchanted, close to nature and somehow wild.” The eight-year-old twins Lara and Leo love the trampoline and the table football, of course, the pool and the sea with its bright white beaches.
At the Beach
white sand beach

The open-air gallery in Bergolo

Like Calin and Wendelin from Munich with their kids. They have just returned from a hike with a truffle dog and his dog guide. “Totally exciting, a bit like hunting, but unfortunately we weren’t allowed to keep the truffles.” Yesterday it took them just 30 minutes to walk to Bergolo, the village on the top of the mountain behind the Cascine, which the residents came to for an open-air event. Air gallery made. International artists exhibit on the old house walls, there are concerts in the summit chapel, comedy, theater and piano recitals in the amphitheater. 

Open air gallery
Art in Bergolo
Art in Bergolo
international open air gallery

In the evenings the peacocks perch under the solar roof of the garage on the edge of the Cascine Crema. Their cooing sounds bizarre, like the vibrating sound of a cell phone. At the pool bar, the tables are festively set, LED lights throw shimmers of light between the glasses and plates. There are eight courses on the Piedmontese evening. Vitello tonnato, baked pepperoni with anchovy sauce, celery, tuma and walnut salad, frittata, risotto, chicken, hazelnut cake and sorbet made from farm fruits, all in a vegetarian version upon request. In the distance the flapping wings of the peacocks flutter high into the treetops to sleep. Urs pours red wine. “A little more vitello tonnato?” asks Susan and tells the story.  About the winegrowers who store their wine in grottos, the walnut farmers who harvest the nuts from the bottom of the groves with huge vacuum cleaner carts, about the old bricklayer who could lay natural stone dead straight but industrial bricks only crooked. “And have you ever heard of the workshops held by locals in Cortemilla, where you learn to cook agnolotti, the Piedmontese ravioli, or tajarin, paper-thin pasta? The best ones contain 34 egg yolks per kilo of flour. Being involved is a great experience.” Totally a hostess.

View over Italy's rooftops
Anja Dilk

After a mountain bike tour around the nearby Monviso mountain, 14 days of pure relaxation in the Cascine Crema were just the thing for guest author Anja Dilk and her family. 

It was still sporty: Every morning at 10 a.m., pool lifeguard Paolo did a little crawl training with Anja. She couldn't refuse the offer. After all, who ever has the opportunity to get tips from a former national swimmer? 

Just great.

© Photos: Anja Dilk, Cascine Crema


Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked with * marked