My last two posts were an indication and introduction to the gorgeous region of Piedmont in Italy. The beautiful Turin followed by my top 3 reasons for the region as a food and wine destination for all. The whole region is a perfect getaway that is easily reached by most of Europe and can be practically done within a long weekend. Three days is all it takes to see all the countryside and all the little villages and towns, while enjoying gorgeous wines and delicious food. Below is my perfect weekend itinerary for Italy's little gem!
Assuming you have flown into Turin and decided not to see the city, get yourself a rental car and make your way to the Piedmont countryside. While you head out of Turin, you will start to see the gorgeous sweeping Italian countrysides and the rolling landscape. It is surprisingly easy to drive in Italy, with large lanes and relatively friendly drivers. It really reminds me the road trip I did in Croatia and is a polar opposite to the hectic streets of Lebanon! My first morning of driving was mainly to get a feel for the region, stopping at little villages and towns and generally taking it easy and relaxed, soaking up the gorgeous views on the way.
I made a few stops to take some photos and to get a feel of the architecture and how people could ever get tired of these little streets and expansive views. My first pit stop was on the side roads of Bra for the incredible greenery. This town is famous for the birthplace of Carlo Petrini, the founder of the Slow cook movement and the world's first University of Gastronomic Sciences. The slow cook movement looks to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and is basically the opposite to fast food! They focus on using the local ecosystem for farming and obtaining plants, livestock and produce. The view itself was well worth a quick stop for photos!
I also popped into Novello as a drive by through town before stopping at Monforte d'Alba for a quick walk around. All these little villages and towns have incredible views and most of them will have really pretty looking churches and old buildings. Most of worth a quick peek into!
For lunch, head on North to Barolo, the town with the same name as the incredible red wine famous in the region. There are a few restaurants and Enotecas (wine bars) to have a quick lunch at and to sample some of the fine local reds. But do be warned that you will probably need a reservation as lunch is a very popular time. Another important point to note is that most restaurants close in the afternoon for a break, so make sure to get yourself a table nice and early. I wasn't so prepared with a reservation and really struggled to find a lunch spot available for a late meal. Luckily, I didn't have to wait long at Divin Cafè, a low key and local little spot where I managed to feast on some local hams and wine!
After lunch, go for a little stroll to walk off all that wine. The town of Barolo is a little hilly with lots of really cool looking buildings dotted around. There is also a museum of wine somewhere in town.
Next stop is to the infamous little chapel in the middle of the countryside. Cappella delle Brunate was built in 1914 as a shelter for farmers working in the vineyards. It was repainted in 1997 as a temple of wine and the artist wanted 'something that would attract people to spend a pleasant day; to sit, drink a glass of wine, read a book, talk, maybe pray too”. The countryside views here are also pretty decent!
To finish off the day, head on over to Ceretto for an incredible wine tasting and wine tour. Ceretto is one of my top 3 reasons to visit this region and the wines are just amazing (link to my post!). The guide is super knowledgeable and this has to be the best wine tour experience ever. Do make sure to book a head or else you won't be able to taste some of the best Barolos and Nebbiolos in town!
For those who are keen and organised and willing to splurge on a fancy meal, finish the incredible day at Piazza Duomo in Alba. This three Michelin star hot spot is one of the top 50 restaurants in the world and looks to serve up some of the most incredible flavours all sourced locally. It is a real treat if you can make an advanced reservation to try this unbelievable restaurant! If you want to know more, check out my other post!
I started day 2 of my Piedmont adventure with the most incredible view from my Airbnb in Alba. I would highly recommend a stay at Chiaras if you are looking for the best Airbnb in town. The views from the downstairs living room is gorgeous and you really cannot beat it with a nice espresso in your hand. Best way to start the day.
Getting back into the car, I made my way to Neive, another cute little town with gorgeous views. As I made my way along the country lanes, I just couldn't stop thinking about how incredible a morning drive can be! The views really adds to the whole experience!
Around lunch time, I made my way to Barbaresco, known for the less intense version of the Barolo. This is a much smaller town with essentially one main road at the top of a small hill. The large Gaja winery is actually housed here, among a lot of other wineries. For lunch, I stopped by at Campacmoc Osteria, a modern and lively restaurant serving up Piedmontese specialities. I finally managed to try out Badna Cauda, a hot dip made out of garlic and anchovies served with little bits of bread and vegetable sticks. It was a real winter warmer with the cheese coming through and the anchovies really shining. I could have that everyday!
After lunch, I had to drive back across the region for my tasting appointment at Fontanafredda. This is probably one of the biggest commercial sized wineries in the whole region. They make around 8 million bottles of wine a year which is incredible (compared to 1 million at Cerretto). You can definitely see the commercial side of things as there is even a visitor's centre and very standardised tours. Nonetheless, the tour was extensive with some very old barrels and storage areas. The wines were also delicious and no wonder it is my third reason to visit the region!
As I visited the area just before Christmas, there was no question that there will be a Christmas market somewhere. The largest one was at Govone, just a short drive from Alba. The market really adds to the festive nature of the year with a lot of little booths and stands selling cheese, goodies and lots of delicious food.
Finish off the night with a lovely dinner back in Alba at Conteroosso Enosfizoteca. This little restaurant has a really charming feel to it and makes the best brasato in town! The veal is slow cooked in the gorgeous Barolo and is seeping with strong flavours of meat and goodness!
If that was not enough, pop into Voglia di Vino Locanda for a final glass of wine before heading back for a good nights sleep!
All in All
What an incredible adventure it was to spend a long weekend in Piedmont. The region is rich with unbelievable wine, food and culture. The towns are full of history and good food and wine is in the blood of all the locals here. There is no doubt that Barolo is now my favourite wine of chose and you really cannot beat a dark red glass of the King of wines!
Stayed tuned for my next adventure, to the magical city of Prague!