Our afternoon in Serralunga d'Alba amounted, finally, to a spiral out to nowheresville, since 90% of the town was shut in August, including, contrary to what the guidebooks said, the 14th-century feudal castle built by the Faletti family in the French donjon style, which had been the only reason J's wife C had wanted to visit the town in the first place.
That week's heat wave continued unabated. The whole town was like a kiln. I begged off further examination of the castle's circumference and sat in the shade with a guilty-looking cat, surrounded by feathers, until J and C descended with news that the castle was slated to open in an hour's time. We decided to wait it out over a terrace lunch at the only place open that was not a leery-looking hotel: Vinoteca Centro Storico. Which wine bar, we were cheered to discover, is known to international visitors as a regional wine destination, and to regional wine drinkers as a destination for Champagne.