10 things to do in Piedmont- Part II
10 things to do in Piedmont in an autumn gateway
Wonder why “la dolce vita” concept comes from Italy? The food, the wine, the spectacular landscapes, the art and history, fashion, beautiful cars…is there anything Italy is missing?
As we happen to adore those particular aspects of life (with focus in landscapes wine and food) we decided again to visit Italy, after our vacation in Montalcino in the summertime and Bolgheri few years back on our first trip as a couple. And yes, we’re following the wine road again. This time in autumn and this one in Piedmont: amazing colors on the hills, the light and the harvest fuzz, the truffle festival, the perfect moment to visit this region.
- Barolo, the story of a Revolution
Barolo is a small town, in the famous wine producing region of Langhe, Piedmont. It is quite small so we breathed its charm by walking around and exploring its streets. Barolo is famous for its many vineyards and its many varieties of red wine which are made from the Nebbiolo grape. Prior to our trip, we watched the movie Barolo Boys, to understand a bit of the vine history. Elio Altare, Chiara Boschis, Marco de Grazia, Giorgio Rivetti, Roberto Voerzio- a group of small-scale wine producers, the so-called “Barolo Boys” in their pursue of “trying to make the best wine in the world” did write a history and indeed change the world of wine. In less than 30 years since they started, the success Barolo currently has is due to their courage to introduce new techniques to the Barolo region that were drawn mainly from France. They aged their wines in barriques (225 l) instead of the traditional casks, and they changed their vineyard practices to emphasize ripe fruit. The long fight between the revolutionaries and the traditionalists in the area is a very nice story that will really make you feel the place and the wine different, so I suggest you watch this movie on Apple Tv. To understand the wines of the area we must visit the individual villages from which they come from. The soil compositions & micro climates are different from commune to comune and they impart their particular characteristics to the wines. Elio Altare, Domenico Clerico, G.D. Vajra, etc are great wineries to visit!
- Have a lunch at a family kind of restaurant
Since it was a 4 day trip with a toddler, we had to plan ahead: make research of restaurants, what to see, etc. So the Michelin Guide was a real help with their list of Bib Gourmand restaurants. We always head for the Bib Gourmand restaurants as they are a great value for money, less fancier than the starred restaurants, usually with all their family involved in the business, very friendly and with amazing food cooked in a traditional way. At restaurant Violetta, in Valle San Giovanni everything was simple and perfect, as it had been for years, nothing fancy but well cooked with fresh ingredients. Here we felt Italy: rustic, cozy, delicious, lovely! Our lunch here was a real gargantuan affair – traditional Piedmontese food: vitello tonnato with a drizzle of olive oil on the plate and a few slices of black truffle capping it, Tagliolini ai funghi porcini, and homemade gnocchi, the ravioli, the semifreddo dessert – all at exceptionally good value.
- Take a stroll in small villages and breathe in their peace
Visit the historic medieval wine villages which are extremely characteristic and evocative. Half hour walk from our house in Castelletto Merli, up through the beautiful and unspoiled countryside road we found Ponzano Monferrato, where we were rewarded by a wonderful pause in the small town to buy some desserts.
- Visit Grinzane Cavour
A medieval castle dating back to the 11 century that stands in one of the most spectacular settings in Langa. It is so worthwhile to just drive around to the see the amazing scenery, dozens of medieval hill villages, Castles, House of Savoy Palaces, Churches and vistas. Inside, there is the restaurant under chef Marc Lanteri that started his cooking journey aside Alain Ducasse and other prestigious cooks. In the Enoteca we found some nice bottles of Barolo and Barbaresco that we enjoyed later in the evening.
- Visit Enotecas, wine cellars, vineyards.
Vivino is a great tool when wine shopping. I do not trust the price tag to show the wine quality but Vivino label scanning. Besides, I learnt and still am a lot via it. Visiting enotecas, discussing with the owners (most of them have their own wine, too) is a great way to taste some amazing wine: Barolo, Barbaresco, Nebbiolo, Roero, Barbera, Dolcetto and Arneis. Indulge in the fantastic and impressive wines of the Piedmont region in northwestern Italy. Visit wine cellars and vineyards of Langhe and Roero and be prepared to taste without having to have an appointment.
In search of Contratto, in Canelli
We found a traditional and old place, on the way back to the farmhouse. It was that sparkle a place has, you stop, enter, have a warm welcome by the family who runs the business and barely speaks English but somehow the Latin roots and the passion for the fermented grapes make us understand each other. A hidden gem, named Enoteca Colli Astiani, in Montegrosso D’Asti.