Dive into deep, delicious Barolo and Barbaresco red wines in this famously foodloving quarter of northern Italy, before checking out the local truffles.
No region in Italy quite compares to Piedmont’s combination of fine wines, gastronomy and beautiful countryside, lying at the foot of the Alps. It would be quite easy to spend a whole trip just wandering through the picture postcard vineyards and celebrated cantinas of the Langhe, whose hills produce some of the world’s greatest, most structured red wines, Barolo and Barbaresco, as well as Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto. The vineyard landscape is unique and so perfect, that in 2014 it achieved the ultimate honour of being added to the exclusive list of Unesco World Heritage sites.
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But it’s worth exploring further to discover the surprising Grignolino and Freisa of the Monferrato region, which are made from native grapes, as well as the delicately sweet Moscato and bubbly Spumante produced around Asti and Canelli.
Meanwhile a new generation of young viticoltori (winemakers) are bringing to life the rural countryside of the Roero, just across the river from the Langhe, with Arneis and Favorita – both fresh, aromatic whites. Stay in a rustic agriturismo where food lovers can splash out on the ultimate gourmet extravagance: aromatic white truffles, or enjoy simple handmade pasta known as plin, which is stuffed and pinched together.
This is one of the most developed parts of Italy for wine tourism, with numerous winemaker B&Bs and splendid regional enoteche (wine shops), where dozens of different wineries are presented in a single tasting. However, the visitor will quickly realise that the Piedmontese are reserved people, very proud of their own culture and language. They may not fall over at first to ingratiate themselves with tourists, but you’ll soon discover just how hospitable and friendly they are.
Turin-Caselle is the nearest major airport, 73km from Montà. Car hire is available.
Piedmont travel guide: Where to stay
The wonderfully eccentric Battista Cornaglia ensures guests enjoy a memorable stay at his organic farm. There are cosy guestrooms and a raucous osteria (simple restaurant) where Battista often takes to the floor with local musicians.
www.casascaparone.it; tel +39 0173-33946; località Scaparone 8, Alba
Castello di Sinio
This 800-year-old castle dominates the hamlet of Sinio, surrounded by vineyards producing the greatest Barolo wine. Sumptuous rooms and a great welcome by owner Denise Pardini.
www.hotelcastellodisinio.com; tel +39 0173-263889; Vicolo del Castello, 1 Sinio
Le Case della Saracca
A unique address where six medieval houses have been transformed into a labyrinth of grottoes, suspended glass walkways, swirling metallic staircases and bedrooms with floating bed or bathroom carved out of the rock.
www.saracca.com; tel +39 0173-789222; Via Cavour 5, Monforte d’Alba
Piedmont travel guide: Where to eat
Osteria da Gemma
Taste Signora Gemma’s legendary Piemontese cucina casalinga (home cooking), in her osteria, with portions razor-thin tajarin pasta showered with pungent white-truffle shavings.
Tel +39 0173-794252; Via Marconi 6, Roddino
Chef Enrico Crippa has won a coveted three Michelin stars in this futuristic temple of gastronomy in Alba. Sublime cuisine.
www.piazzaduomoalba.it; tel +39 0173-366167; Piazza Risorgimento 4, Alba
Piedmont travel guide: What to do
Turin was the first capital of modern Italy, with ornate baroque palaces, an amazing Egyptian Museum, the Museo Egizio di Torino, and historical cafes that have made an art of the evening aperitivo. www.museoegizio.it
Every weekend from mid-October to mid-November, Alba hosts its famous white-truffle festival.