After a day’s hiking (order a packed lunch) in the hills of wild Maira (one of the Alps’ undiscovered valleys), you return to a rustic atmospheric barn and a hearty Piedmontese meal – served with local beers and wines of which they have 100 labels.
The rooms at the locanda (two with kitchenettes) are scattered throughout the hamlet of Preit (hence the ‘albergo diffuso’). Preit lies in the woods at the end of the valley, a stone’s throw from France, immersed in nature and legend. (You can imagine seeing ‘elfi’ around every corner… the place is well named.)
Spring brings cuckoos, ibex and wild flowers. Hike, bike, wild swim and climb, or canoe in the Stura valley. In winter the snow is deep, so set off on snowshoes with the hotel guide. Eighteen routes start from Preit alone – and there’s a spa in the cellar for when you return.