How to Find Accommodation with English Speaking Hosts

One of the things that makes Alta Val Trebbia truly unique is its being unspoilt, remote and authentic.

While these might be the main reason for choosing it as your destination, it can also result in some problems finding accommodation, as the area does not really offer many options for traditional properties such as hotels or big resorts. You will encounter tiny villages, often with a permanent local population of only a dozen people, so big hotels would be completely out of place in this sort of context.

Grab this chance to stay with a local host, in a mountain top cabin in the Antola Natural Park or in a traditional bed & breakfast. Camp under the stars or try an agriturismo (Italian for farmstay, offering local cuisine with locally sourced organic products).

Here are some websites to book your stay and find English speaking guests:

Booking.com: the biggest travel accommodation site supports more than 41 languages and offers a great customer service 24/7 to help you before, during and after your stay. All bookings are immediately confirmed and many also offer free cancellation. On the home page you can enter in the search box “Torriglia”, “Fontanarossa”, “Montebruno”, “Bobbio” and then use the map view function to find available accommodation close to where you intend to stay. The site offers hotels, campings, bed and breakfasts, private homes and many other accommodation types. At the bottom of each property page you can see which languages are spoken at the property (see picture below).

languages booking

In this section on Booking.com you can see the languages spoken at the property 

 

Airbnb: the most popular sharing economy website is a great idea if you want to stay with a local. Hosts might also offer local experiences and activities on the ground and will be happy to support you with all your questions before and throughout your stay. Read the reviews to know more about languages spoken and what previous travelers thought about their stay. Besides private homes, you will also find camping sites and other more traditional types of stays. Some bookings have instant confirmation, while in other cases you might have to interact with the host and provide some more information about yourself and your trip before receiving the confirmation of your booking. In the search box type “Torriglia”, “Rovegno”, “Valsigiara”, “Ottone” or other specific location names in the valley and use the map view function to see available accommodation in the area.

airbnb languages

On Airbnb, click on the host picture to  find languages spoken

Val Trebbia Experience: this interesting portal in Italian provides a lot of information on the lower part of Val Trebbia roughly included within the area from Piacenza to Bobbio. In the section called “Dove dormire” you will find a list of recommended places to stay (divided by location and accommodation type), which you can book directly. Note: English might not always be spoken by the owners or staff, but you can give it a try.

Other: most properties in the valley are small family run businesses, which are likely not to have a website or be listed online. Keep your eyes wide open as you drive along Statale 45 for “agriturismi”, “bed and breakfast” or “apartments” signs, and follow your instinct!

Especially if you are travelling by public transport it is a good idea to book some nights in the valley to be able to enjoy the beautiful nature and landscape at your own pace, without stressing too much about catching your next coach ride in time.

Wherever you choose to stay, you will find plenty of great forests and places to spend some time immersed in the nature.

Happy travels!

Featured image by Cathal Mac an Bheatha on Unsplash

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All roads lead to Alta Val Trebbia: an interview with Total Bike Forever

Would you believe it? Alta Val Trebbia recently received a very special visit from an incredible cycling duo of musicians on their way to Japan.
Through our @visitaltavaltrebbia Instagram profile, we got to know the Total Bike Forever project by Adam Faulkner and Tim Stephens. Over the course of the next year Adam and Tim are cycling to Japan, making an album on the road and a documentary of their expedition. They left London about a month ago and are making their way east through Europe before rolling onto Central Asia, South East Asia and finally reaching Japan in 2019.
In early April 2018, they crossed the valley and the Antola Park, where they took this picture that sparked our conversation.
total bike
We took the chance to learn more about their journey and experience in Alta Val Trebbia and ask a few questions…
1. How did you come across Val Trebbia in general and Parco dell’Antola in particular? 
Having spent the best part of two weeks cycling along the French and Italian riverias, we were keen on a change of scenery and a challenge to go with it. We found a route that took us through Parco dell’Antola but didn’t know anything about the park before we took to the road. We really enjoyed our time there and what we saw along the way.
2. What route did you take to arrive there and what was your next destination?
We’d cycled from London, down through France eventually hitting the Mediterranean. We then headed along the coast east through Italy before heading north from Savona to Milan. We passed through the Park as we cycled this part of our route.
seaside

From the seaside to the mountains, on the way to Japan…

3. Did you visit any of the villages along the way or did you interact with the locals?
We were enjoying the road so much that we barely stopped! That said, we did stop in one village for a coffee and something to eat in a bakery (we only really eat cake whilst we’re cycling!) Everyone we spoke to was very friendly and we had no trouble making our selves understood.
on the road

“We enjoyed the road so much that we barely stopped!”

4. Since you are writing an album too, did the scenery you saw in Alta Val Trebbia inspire any musical thought?
It did! You can see from this photo that we actually got some of the instruments out at the top of the climb and made the most of the inspiration that hit us and the amazing scenery.
mountain music

Turning the landscape of Alta Val Trebbia into music…

5. Any tip you would give to fellow bikers wanting to cross the valley too?
Beware of the head wind in the early stages of the climb. There’s a lot of bends in the road but keep going! The view from the top is totally worth it.
 Here is an evocative memory written by Tim and Adam about their climb towards Parco dell’Antola:
“Push, breathe, climb. Push, breathe, climb. There’s a simple yet demanding rhythm to take you from the Liguria coast to the top of the Passo Del Turchino – a 532m ascent that avidly wraps itself around the hillside like a snake. 
 
For us, two musicians travelling by bike all the way to Tokyo from London, these kind of climbs take on a special significance – get to the top take in the view and get our instruments out to make some music set against a breathtaking backdrop. 
 
Leaving the hustle and bustle of Voltri, we started the climb knowing we had the best part of 10km of uphill to come, so dropped down into bottom gear, strapped in for the ride and slipped into the meditative climbing state, where we try to rid our minds of any thoughts at all.
 
Passing Mele, the biggest commune on the ascent, the din from the coast quickly subsided with only overhead Autoroutes towering over us for an audio backdrop. But as we got higher and higher and the villages got smaller and smaller even the Autoroute noise subsided as we switched places and towered over them, but not before a mid climb stop to take on a quick espresso with the elderly residents for the last big push.
 
Two hours and countless switchbacks later, we were there and we weren’t disappointed. Rolling hills strewn across the horizon, barely any movement or noise – the view was one of stillness and tranquillity. It was time to put some music to this breathtaking scene before moving on to our next chapter.”
 
Follow Total Bike Forever adventure on the website (www.totalbikeforever.com) and on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. The project is raising money for the Alzheimer’s Society.
bikes

Bikers for a good cause: this epic journey is supporting the Alzheimer’s society too