Agrate Conturbia is a holiday location away from busier places. Staying at Cascina Visconti, you will appreciate the quiet atmosphere of this little village, and while taking a walk you will experience the friendliness of a small community of 1.500 people. Such a place offers many experiences to treasure and remember and we hope you will take our suggestions on things to do and see.
The village of Agrate offers two small (and not very big) food shops, a pharmacy, two bars and two restaurants (plus a really nice one in Conturbia).
Closed Mondays in the main square is really good for cakes, pastries, ice-creams etc. We usually buy croissants for breakfast… if you want to be sure to find them, order the day before. Also try their mignon pastry and a local cake made with maize flower and hazelnuts, called Amor Polenta.
Visit the church of San Vittore and the medieval baptistery – right next to the house.
The food shops are small, have few items and are not so cheap. We advise to do a basic shop at one of the big supermarkets by car, and rely on the local shops just for items you may have forgotten or fresh bread and milk.
For food shopping, we advise going to one of the big supermarkets. There are several on the main roads that go from Novara to Arona or towards the highway.
We usually go to the Esselunga in Castelletto Ticino or Il Gigante in Varallo Pombia. They are open everyday and until the evening.
Bogogno village - next to Agrate has a good meat shop (and small super-market), called Agazzone Carni, Via Roma 39 - if you want good quality meat. It’s expensive, so we only use it for meat shopping and also to buy the typical unpasteurized Gorgonzola cheese (Gorgonzola a fermentazione naturale) – typical of the Novara region.
You can also do some food (and other) shopping at some of the street markets in neighboring towns.
Arona has a street market on Tuesday mornings but our favourite is the street market in Borgomanero on Friday mornings. There is one side street that has all the food stalls, Viale Don Minzoni. Ask for directions once you are there.
Borgomanero town also has a really good Pasticceria, a real must. It is called Gioria on Viale Don Minzoni 21. Try the puff pastries. Another specialty to try and good for presents and to bring back home, are the Brutti ma Buoni – ugly but nice - biscuits made of hazelnut meringues.
Eating out in/around Agrate
There is one restaurant very close to the house called Osteria Tre Re (get to the main square and turn left and you will find it). It changed owner last year and we tried it a few times and liked it. It’s good quality and reasonably priced- and has outdoor seating. It is open both for lunch and dinner.
The second restaurant is La Combriccola del Fiasco and is an agriturismo that is not open all week (usually Thursdays to Sundays- but check!). La Combriccola del Fiasco. They grow their own animals so the meat and grills are delicious, they also sell vegetables and other products from their farm (check shop opening times) and you can also arrange to go horse-riding. Best to ring them beforehand). It is a bit further, down the Borgoticino road but it’s a nice walk (10-15 minutes).
Our all time favourite restaurant though is L’Orso Ghiotto – in the village of Conturbia, just next to Agrate. This is a family run restaurant, passed on from mother to daughter. The current owner is called Giancarla and she runs it with her children and mother. The menu is very simple but delicious, they make their own pasta and many other things. The prices are really good. You will need the car to get there but they have parking in front. Closed on Wednesdays. If you go, tell them you are staying in Agrate, at Marta’s and Gabriele’s place.
The area produces wine, mainly red (Ghemme, Gattinara, Sizzano) with some nice whites (Erbaluce). You can go to do some wine tasting and buying directly from the producers. The village of Bogogno (next to Agrate) has Canova . If you want to go organic and up-market, try Cantina Bianchi in Sizzano.
Things to see/do in and around Agrate
Horse-riding (arrange by appointment) at the Agriturismo La Combriccola del Fiasco. Details under reaturants.
There is an earth tennis field that can be booked by ringing 0322.832100. It is near the Municipio building (Mairie) on Via Roma – the road that goes from Agrate to Conturbia.
In Conturbia, you will find Parco Faunistico La Torbiera, a safari park with wild and semi-wild animals. Children really like it and it’s nice for a walk:
Other places to eat in the area
Apart from our favourite Orso Ghiotto in Conturbia, here are a couple of places we would recommend a bit further afield:
Il Castagneto in Montrigiasco is a bit more elegant but not too expensive. Ask for a table on the terrace and go when it is still light as you will have a nice view!
The Circolo Arci Lavoratori Silvera (working men’s club in Silvera) is an old structure for workmen turned in a restaurant. It has a garden, is very informal and not expensive. The food is great. Ideal with young children.