One of the nicest and most relaxing activities during a stay with us is to go hiking. Leaving the villa you immediately step into the vineyards and will enjoy the tranquility, the magnificent views and the lovely weather. Sometimes the sky is so clear that you can see the Alpes 150 km away!
You're free to walk through all the vineyards, people put up fences only around their houses. Nobody will be surprised and stare at you if they see you strolling among their vines. On the contrary, they will greet you friendly and start a conversation.
This means that you can walk in any direction: to Santa Maria della Versa, Lirio and further.
Since a few years there exist a described and signposted route Pavia via Bobbio (Emilia-Romagna) to Pontremoli in Tuscany, the Via degli Abati. This hiking trail runs right past our villa! See also the website for this long distance hiking trail.
On the right you'll will find a list of itineries for walks we have done ourselves. By clicking on one these walks a page will open with detailed information, a map, a description of the route, and with a height map.
We have also inserted these walks on the site:
GPSies - Tracks for Vagabonds
where all functionality is also available.
1. Santa Maria della Versa, round trip, 8 km appr. 2 hrs
2. To Agriturismo Bagarellum, one way 6km appr. 1.5 hrs
3. To Ca' Bosco, round trip 6km appr. 1.5 hrs
4. To Cigognola, 9.5 km one way, appr. 2,5 hrs
5. Golferenzo, round trip, 5 km ca. 1 hr
6. Lirio, round trip, 5 km appr. 2 hrs
7. Walking the dog, round trip, 3 km appr.45 min
8. To Crocetta and further, round trip, 10,5 km ca.2,5 hrs
9. City walk Pavia, one way, 2,5 km
Cycling and mountainbiking
Italians love race cycling. A popular cycling route runs by the villa: for the passionate cyclists and mountain bikers this area is ideal and challenging. There are several interesting websites which offer suitable and well-described cycle routes (road & MTB) in the Oltrepò:
A nice overview of the tracks in the Oltrepò can be found on this site. An Italian-English brochure on cycling in the plains of the river Po-vlakte north of the Oltrepò can be downloaded here
Of course, you can also make short trips by car. The roads are not busy. En route, hiking, cycling, or by car, you can hardly miss the many bars, restaurants, trattorias or what else there is to cater for the hungry and thirsty. Many wine farms offer the opportunity to taste the local wines: a "degustazione". You should definitely try it!
Explore the Oltrepò
The approx. 1100 km2 of region around Villa I Due Padroni are covered with vineyards, small villages, castles and forests. From the flood plain of the Po the hills gradually rise to a maximum height of 1700 meter (Monte Lesima). This provides you with stunning views. The region is intersected by several rivers and brooks that define the valleys: Valle Staffora, Valle Scuropasso, Valle Versa and Val Tidone. If you are not in a hurry you can explore the region by:
- A visit to villages and castles
- hiking through nature reserves
There are several auto routes that guide you to the different sites.
Villages and castles
The plains south of the Po are an integral part of the Oltrepò. Still on these plains, but on the foot of the hills of the Oltrpò, there are several small cities such as Stradella, Broni, Casteggio and Voghera where you can find most of the shops and markets. Among the the many small villages and hamlets of the region there are a number that are more outstanding and worth a visit:
- Santa Maria della Versa, a centre of viniculture with its lively evening market each Thursday during the summer months July and August
- the historical city of Varzi, famous for its hand-made 'salami' sausages
- Zavatarello, with its medieval castle (open to the public on sundays)
- the beautifully restored "borgo" of Fortunago
- Salice Terme, a traditional spa with medicinal waters
- The small but charming abbey of Sant’Alberto di Butrio in Val di Nizza, with a number of beautiful medieval frescos
- The castles of Oramala and Montesegale
Just next to the Oltrepò Pavese lies the province of Piacenza with its own character, also worth discovering: Here you can visit many medieval castles and cities like Castell'Arquato, and in his birth place Busseto you will find everything worth knowing about Giuseppe Verdi.
The city of Bobbio is known as the cultural center of the hills of the Piacentina region. Here you can visit the tomb of one of the early 7th century Irish missionaries: San Columbano, and in the river Trebbia you can swim near the medieval bridge. If the kids want more water slide fun, we can recommend the Riverpark of Rivergaro.
Pavia Province and the Oltrepò region have several nature reserves and protected areas which can easily be reached by car from the villa within an hour, such as:
- The nature reserve of the Ticino valley which runs from the point where the rivers Ticino and Po flow together (a few kilometers from Broni), to the Lago Maggiore further north
- the peak of Pietra Corva and its surroundings including the botanical garden with a special collection of alpine plants
- The protected area of Monte Alpe
- the area around the small ski-resort Brallo di Pregola / Pian del Poggio
A popular and lively meeting point (especially on sundays) is the Penice Pass on the road between Varzi and Bobbio: Passo del Penice.
Market in Santa Maria della Versa
A fresco in the monastery of San Alberto di Butrio
Parco Mont Alpe
The river Ticino
Day trips & City sight seeing
Villa I Due Padroni is centrally located in Northern Italy, making it possible to visit within one day one of the larger cities, the great lakes in the north or even the Mediterranian sea.
For a day out in the city, Pavia is the first choice with respect to location of the villa. Pavia is a charming, and historic city with a good mixture of sights (don't miss the old university buildings!) and shops. Of course there are plenty of restaurants and bars, for instance in its central square, Piazza Vittoria with its many terraces. We have been living in Pavia for half a year and can provide you many suggestions where to go in Pavia. There are a few must-see sights in the vicinity of Pavia: the monastry of Certosa di Pavia (worth the detour according to the Guide Michelin (see video presentation), and the beautiful Renaissance-square of Vigevano.
Further away but still within a two-hours driving distance lie the cities of Genoa, Turin, Bergamo, Parma, Cremona and Piacenza.
A visitor to Lombardy really cannot miss its capital. Milan is not only the seat of the regional government and the financial capital of Italy, but is also a bustling city full of energy where you shop your heart out. There are lots of museums and monuments worth visiting. You can read more about what to do in this metropole in the special Milan site we have created for our guests
Piazza Vittoria, Pavia
Facade of the monastery church of Certosa di Pavia
Piazza Ducale, Vigevano
Lakes & Sea
Several of the great northern italian lakes can easily be reached within one day, like Lake Como, Lago Maggiore and Lake Lugano at the Swiss-Italian border.
The center of the city of Como, for example, is located directly on the shore of the lake of the same name, and it is characterized by a cozy square overlooking the Cathedral of Como. From this square you can discover the old city center through the various narrow streets,
An Italian holiday without dipping into the Mediterranean is hardly imaginable. Fortunately, a day-out to the sea can be done quite easily from the villa, as we know from experience.
For the passionate sun-bather there is a fast route to the beach via the motorway, but it is definitely worth the effort to take the long and winding road through the Ligurian Alps. There is hardly any traffic and this three hours scenic route to the sea offers spectacular mountain views.
Finally you reach Chiavari, where you can find pleasant beaches. At the end of the afternoon you drive along the coast to Portofino and Camoglia. A dinner on the beach during sunset is then a perfect closure of a wonderful day.
Lago di Como
Say Italy, and in the same breath one of the famous brand names Giorgio Armani, Versace, Prada, en Dolce & Gabbana, and you immediately think: Milan! and that's right! If you like shopping and fashion, Milan is the place to be. Shops and and boutiques from chic to shabby are present everywhere in this fashion capital of the world. The most famous district is that of the Quadrilatero d'oro, just behind the Piazza Duomo.
Do you love design and fashion, but you also love the cheap bargains? You can find it in Milan, but you don't even have to go there. In an hours drive from the villa you find two large outlet centers with all the big fashion brand names present:n: Fidenza Village and Serravalle Designer Outlet.
Piazza Duomo, Milano
Via della Spiga in the Quadrilatero d'oro district
Culinary & Cooking class
Italy is famous for its fantastic cusine. Almost all Italians are convinced that their kitchen is the best in the world, and we have to admit: the food her can be very good. Even more so in an area as the Oltrepò Pavese where tourist are not very common. In the restaurants they will serve you the dishes a real Italian would like to eat: they will not be put off by bad quality!
Even if you do not speak Italian, when you follow the advice of your host, it will certainly be a memorable meal. And also pricewise you do not have to worry. The prices in the average restaurants in the Oltrepò are lower than what you are used to back home!
On sundays whole families go out for an extensive sunday's lunch. This lunch may take hours is becomes thus the main sunday activity. It is highly recommended to join this activity once!
A good glass of wine goes well with a good dinner or lunch. And in that respect you can indulge yourself here in the Oltrepò Pavese. This region produces several wines still unknown outside Italy, such as the Bonarda, Barbera and the Buttafuoco wines. What is special is that a lot of wines, white and red, are also available in sparkling versions, "vivace", or "frizzante".
Con le mani in pasta!
Putting your hands in the dough, as the Italians say. And that's exactly the thing that we propose you to do: "mettere le mani in pasta". In co-operation with Agriturismo Bagarellum in Montecalvo Versiggia at hikings distance of our Villa, we like to organise a cooking class if you would be interested.
Master chef Leda
During a morning's lesson chef Leda of Bagarellum will tell and demonstrate to you (in a mixture of Italian, English and gestures) the secrets of her delicious and traditional dishes. The recipies of these dishes have been handed over from generation to generation, from each nonna to her daughter. Many of our guests have already experienced the results of this simple but exquisite cuisine.
You may learn to prepare ravioli or risotto and probably also an antipasto or a dolce. The choice all depends on the season, as all ingredients used in the kitchen are of their own produce. And all participants are lucky enough to be eating their own cooking results during the lunch that is offered immediately after class.
In case you're interested in taking part in the class, it would be best to make a reservation before you arive at the villa. (using the contact form, see Contact).
The class starts at approx. 9:30 and lasts till the lunch at approx. 12:30. The lunch takes as long as you like. The price for the class amounts to just 70 euro p.p., including lunch and drinks/wine. Minimum number of paritcipants is 2 adults.
A short impression of the cooking class can be seen on YouTube.