Culinary Visit to Piedmont, Italy
The birthplace of the Slow Food movement – and I would dare say the birthplace of slow travel, romance and luxury living, as well – Piedmont is an unimposing modern-day Italian fairytale destination. As you walk down the festival streets of Alba, the scent of white truffles and roasting hazelnuts fills the air. You can stop for an ancient underground tour, enter one of the gothic medieval churches, and even watch school age boys playing an impromptu game of soccer along the route. While exploring the small towns dotted throughout Piedmont, chances are likely that you will stumble into a cozy Michelin-starred restaurant. But you’re really here for the wine, the crown jewel of the region known for its perfectly-balanced Barolo.
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Where to stay
Castello Di Guarene
Be transported to 18th century Piedmont at this elegant palace hotel with formal gardens and two restaurants.
Relais Villa d'Amelia
Gorgeous farmhouse in Piedmont’s beautiful Langhe, home to a Michelin-starred restaurant and wine cellar.
Foodie heaven inside a neo-Gothic estate, with 47 rooms, a lauded culinary school, and wine bank.
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Things to do
Immerse yourself in the region
Both the rural and the metropolitan aspects of Piedmont embrace the true beauty of slow living as it cozies up between France and Switzerland in Italy’s northernmost region. The hills of Piedmont roll out in front of you at a calm and gentle pace every morning. They are best enjoyed through the indulgences of the Piedmontese culture and lifestyle, on bikes or even a luxurious Ferrari. It’s villages are unveiled one by one hiding behind each hill as you cross from one vineyard town to another.
Returning to local “city life,” the ancient business and political center of Italy, the city of Turin offers a modern-day outlook on Italy’s preservation of ancestral wisdom and history. Stroll the city's many piazzas, medieval churches, art galleries, gardens or museums and end the day with an opera at Teatro Regio Torino or a soccer game with the local Juventus club.
Enjoy local cuisine and wine
The food and wine are a hallmark of Piedmont culture and are "must-do's" for any Piedmont itinerary. Immerse yourself in the Slow Food Movement in its birthplace, rich with sustainable farming, local sourcing and cultural heritage preservation endeavors founded in this region. While you’re at it, you might as well up your at-home chef skills with a cooking class with a Michelin-starred chef. You’re also just as welcome to indulge in the meal without the labor in one of the 46 Michelin-starred restaurants in the region.
While you’re enjoying a five-star meal, pair it with a lovely Barolo, the "King of Wines." It just so happens that this wine is native to Piedmont. Don’t miss out on a tasting experience with a winery's own vintner who will educate you on the history and taste of their wines. Peek into the Vietti vineyard for a private tasting with Emanuela and you might even want to saunter for the rest of the afternoon at the nearby terrace restaurant for the magnificent hazy rolling hills of the vineyards.
And if you happen to be around during the International Alba White Truffle Fair in the autumn, enjoy the tasting booths, music and folklore that fill the streets with cheer as they usher in the holiday season.
Where luxury takes on another meaning…
There is no shortage of luxurious accommodations and experiences in Piedmont. Enjoy your stay in a storied royal castle, quiet and centrally located boutique hotel, or be the sole guest at a bed and breakfast with breathtaking views of vineyards. There are wellness spas complete with saunas, steam rooms and traditional hammams as well as internationally renowned golf courses available for relaxation and exercise.
For adventure, ride a cable car to the neighboring mountains for a view of Monte Rosa, one of the highest mountains in the Alps. You can ski or hike there any time of the year. If you’re feeling some altitude sickness, escape to the serene Lago d'Orta where you can rent a private boat, swim and hike – perhaps without another tourist in sight.
Places to eat & drink
La Terrazza Da Renza: Perfectly located in a pedestrian-friendly area featuring an array of local wineries, this terrace offers breathtaking vineyard views in Castiglione Falletto. Great for lunchtime, its kitchen offers a daily set menu of enjoyable regional specialties.
Osteria di Boccondivino: A quaint, unassuming experience in the small town of Bra, this secret gem is perfect for a courtyard lunch or a cozy dinner upstairs. The Michelin-starred restaurant offers a special menu if you go during truffle season including pasta with shaved truffles. And don't miss the Barolo-soaked pear for dessert!
Le Case Della Saracca: Park at the base of the hill in the village of Monforte d’Alba and walk the cobblestone streets to this medieval castle. Arrive an hour prior to your dinner reservation to enjoy the complimentary antipasto spread and limoncello shots. Your secluded table will be situated along the winding staircase to the highest tower in the castle.
Porto di Savona: Stop in for lunch or dinner in the heart of Turin, perfectly situated in the Piazza Vittorio Veneto. Imagine traditional Italian ambiance and handmade pastas of the highest quality.
Caffé al Bicerin: No stop in Turin's city center is complete without tasting the famous chocolate espresso during an afternoon stroll in the Quadrilatero Romano. This historical cafe has been around since 1763, and you can still feel the old world energy of its famous guests.
Need to Know
Piedmont is a highly underrated destination in Italy, but is the very core of Italian cuisine and culture. The best time to visit is late October and early November for the International Alba White Truffle Fair, and yet it still feels like a low season for tourism. Be sure to rent a car to visit all of the small villages and to navigate the urban historical city of Turin.
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