This VinaTour! travel guide will take about 10 minutes to enjoy. If after reading this guide you would like to experience Piedmont with us, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Allow me to take you on a trip
I know, right now is not the time to pack our bags and get on a plane, train or a bus, but that won’t keep us from dreaming a little bit. Sooner or later, life will be get back to normal, and then we can take all those trips we've been thinking about while on "lockdown". That trip to visit a friend, to eat that special dish or to finally get to know your favorite wine producer in person. Normally, we'd take you with us on a VinaTour! through Piedmont, but for now join us on this "daydream" instead.
Here's what I'll cover in this VinaTour Guide:
- Piedmont: Ancient Territory
- Welcome to Turin
- Food and Wine in Turin
- The Pure Wines of Langhe, Roero and Monferrato
- Discovering Gavi and Novi Ligure
- Amazing Food
Piedmont: Ancient Territory
A region in North-Western Italy, enclosed by mountainous terrain on 3 sides and open towards the Plain of the River Po to the east, Piedmont is truly special. It has been an important place for centuries, as many trading routes from the Mediterranean to Northern Europe as well as from France to the east led through it. Turin was also the capital of the State of Savoy, whose last king Vittorio Emanuele II became the first regent of a united Italy in 1861.
This combination of mountainous, hilly and flat terrains with different climate zones - from alpine to moderate with continental influences - as well as the historical importance and exchange with other nearby cultures has led to a unique heritage.
Gastronomically, architecturally, as well as in agriculture and winemaking.
Welcome to Turin
The capital of the Piedmont is a fantastic city to visit – and is still underrated, it seems. Its grandezza serves as a reminder of its historical importance. Walking under the arcades past ancient palazzi will make you feel like you’ve traveled through time. Bars and cafés nestled on hidden squares will invite you to sit down and have aperitivo – always served with nibbles – which often happens to turn into an impromptu dinner. Besides the main attractions, like the many historical museums and castles, there are also some things to discover off the beaten track:
Chiesa del Monte dei Cappuccini
Just across the river from Piazza Vittorio Veneto, this small church is easy to reach and offers beautiful views of the city.
This tower was originally conceived as a synagogue. Finished in in 1889, it is still the world’s tallest unreinforced brick building, and now houses the National Museum of Cinema. This gorgeous landmark is worth a visit for history, architecture and film buffs alike. Tickets are 11€. Open Wednesday - Monday, 9 AM - 8 PM (11 PM on Saturdays)
Circolo dei Lettori
Housed on a floor of the beautiful 17th century Palazzo Graneri della Roccia, the Circolo dei Lettori (Readers’ Circle) is a unique project. Ideal to escape the bustle of the city below, it houses a café, reading rooms and occasionally events, like book readings and concerts. Take a book to read in silence, go for a coffee, a snack or an aperitif, it is open to all. Open Monday - Saturday, 9.30 AM - 9.30 PM
Porta Palazzo Market
Even if you don’t plan on preparing your own meals while in Turin, visiting this market is going to be a highlight of your trip. It’s divided into an open-air part, where you can find everything from farmers selling fresh produce, to Chinese underwear peddlers to North African flatbread bakers, and a covered market with sections like fish, meat, dairy or fruit and vegetables. Open Monday - Saturday, 7 AM - 2 PM (Saturday until 7 PM)
BONUS TIP: Just around the corner is one of the city’s best ice cream places, Gelateria Popolare. DO NOT MISS their amazing gelato, prepared freshly every day, using only the best ingredients.
This is when you’ll regret having traveled with a just carry-on suitcase. The Gran Balon, happening every second Sunday of the month, is a massive, open air flea market, where you can find everything, from antique furniture to WWII memorabilia, from vintage clothes to plain trash. Open 8 AM - 6 PM
Food and Wine in Turin
Banco Vini e Alimenti
Opened by the Consorzio owners, this bistro offers great food and natural wines in a casual setting. This is one of my all-time favorites. Great to go for an aperitif, realizing you’re hungry, ordering some food, and ending up eating too much accidentally because everything is so darn good. Open Monday – Saturday, 12 – 12.30 AM
A popular restaurant that takes the nose-to-tail and leaf-to-root approach to eating very seriously. Here you can eat skillfully prepared traditional Piedmontese food as well as some more modern dishes. Reservation recommended. Open Monday – Friday 12.30 – 2.30 PM / 7.30 - 11 PM, Saturday 7.30 – 10.30 PM
Offers traditional Piedmontese cuisine in an old-school setting, despite being run by a young team. Come here for classics like carne cruda (veal tartare), agnolotti (small stuffed pasta) or brasato al Barolo (slow cooked beef in Barolo sauce). Reservation recommended. Open daily from 12.30 PM – 2.30 PM / 7.30 – 10.30 PM
The Pure Wines of Langhe, Roero and Monferrato
The most famous wine producing areas, Langhe, Roero and Monferrato, were awarded Unesco World Heritage status in 2014. In the Langhe and Roero, the Nebbiolo grape reigns supreme – it is the grape used for the world-famous Barolo and Barbaresco wines. In the Monferrato, Barbera is king. And then there is Dolcetto, as well as other local varieties, yielding wines that range from highly complex to glou glou.
Growers of Langhe, Roero and Monferrato you should taste
Case Corini, situated in Costigliole d'Asti, is made of 14 hectares, of which 5 hectares is vineyards. The main variety that is grown is Barbera, then Nebbiolo and a few ancient local varieties. They are all vinified naturally with great care, nothing added, nothing taken away. The resulting wines are alive; they reflect their terroir beautifully, managing to be at the same time very traditional, as well as contemporary.
>> Click here to check out our Case Corini's wines!
Manuel Marinacci has been running his 4 HA, 1-man-operation since 2002, bottling his first vintage in 2004. His boutique winery is situated in San Rocco Seno d’Elvio, a small hamlet in the Barbaresco area. The wines he makes are traditional in style and always great – but that’s not the only reason why you should visit him: He’s one of the most entertaining wine makers I’ve ever met. Prepare to have a good time!
A traditional family winery located in Barolo itself. The Brezzas have been making wine since 1885. They are still around for a reason! There is also a wonderful traditional restaurant and a hotel attached to the winery.
Discovering Gavi and Novi Ligure
More to the south-east, things change and white wine takes the center stage. From relatively well-known Gavi, made from Cortese grapes, to elegant underdog Timorasso, there are worlds to discover in this hilly, wild, forested area.
Growers of Gavi and Novi Ligure you should taste
Castello di Tassarolo
A small, biodynamic winery owned by a countess, Massimiliana Spinola, whose family has been making wine in the area since the 14th century. This is a truly special place, where you can learn about biodynamic agriculture and wine making while tasting some gorgeous, low intervention Gavi wines.
Cascina degli Ulivi
This farm/winery was founded by biodynamic pioneer Stefano Bellotti, who has since become somewhat of a legend in the Italian natural wine community. After his passing in 2018, his daughter Ilaria has taken over, making honest wines that beautifully express their terroir. This place also serves as an agriturismo (farm stay), so you can sleep here or stay for a tasty lunch/dinner prepared with local products.
Valli Unite was founded in 1981 as an organic work cooperative, by 3 young local farmers. They were soon joined by others, hailing from different countries, bringing a wide range of skills. Now, 35 people live there and work 100 HA of land. There are 25 HA of vineyards, the rest is divided into pasture, woods, cereal and forage crops. The wines are low intervention and reflect the local terroir. I especially recommend that you try their Timorasso, an indigenous white grape variety. You can also book a lunch or dinner here!
Amazing Food in Piedmont
The food is in Piedmont is diverse, with firm peasant roots, aiming to bring comfort and nourishment after long days of work. Pasta, rice or polenta are the main starchy foods, depending on the area and its topography. There is also great cheese, made from cow’s, ewe’s or goat’s milk. On the countryside, lesser cuts of meat were often kept, while the prime ones were brought to the surrounding cities and sold for profit. Up to this day, it’s not uncommon to find dishes that include brain, tripe or other entrails. Prime cuts are often served raw, as a carne cruda (veal tartar), or in other cold antipasti, like vitello tonnato (veal in tuna sauce).
There are great vegetables and fruits grown in the area, but they seldom take center stage. If you visit a farmer’s market, however, you will be impressed by the variety and quality of local produce!
Places to eat in Piedmont
Il Centro in Priocca d’Alba
Go to this Michelin starred restaurant for extremely well-prepared traditional food. Reservations recommended. Open Wednesday – Monday, 12.15 – 2 PM / 7.30 – 10 PM
Piazza Duomo in Alba
Chef Enrico Crippa grew up in Italy, where he also gathered his first experiences as a cook. He then went to refine his craft in France and Japan. In his own restaurant, he takes these influences and turns them into something highly unique, using only the best local ingredients and manipulating them using French and Japanese techniques. Reservations recommended. Open Tuesday – Saturday, 12.30 – 2 PM / 7.30 – 9.30 PM
Fre in Monforte d’Alba
The restaurant of the Réva resort, including gorgeous rooms, a spa and golf course, this restaurant is one of my favorites. This place offers a modernized version of Piedmontese food. The team is friendly and knowledgeable, and the wine list is a dream! They received their first Michelin Star this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more to come. Reservation Recommended
Osteria Boccondivino in Bra
The small town of Bra, often overlooked in favor of Alba, is absolutely worth a visit. The presence 500-odd international students living here, thanks to the nearby University of Gastronomic Sciences, makes this a lively, young and fun town to visit, with a surprisingly big gastronomic offer. An absolute must is visiting the Osteria Boccondivino, the place where the Slow Food Movement was born. The offices of the now internationally operating NGO are in the same building. This place is cozy, serves fantastic Piedmontese fair and has a pretty courtyard for al fresco lunches and dinners. Open Monday – Saturday, 12 – 3 PM, 7 – 11 PM, Sunday 12 – 3 PM
Enoteca Zero in Bra
A small wine bar with a lovely selection of local, national and international natural wines. Open Monday 6 – 11 PM, Tuesday – Saturday, 11 AM – 1 PM, 6 – 11 PM
Vineria Bistrot la Carbonaia in Bra
Wine bar and bistro selling mostly local wines. Open late every day: 6 PM – 1.30 AM
Vinoteca Centro Storico in Serralunga d’Alba
Wine bar and bistro just underneath the ruins of a medieval castle. Great wine list full of rarities. Especially great selection of bubbles! Open Wednesday – Sunday, 12 – 11 PM
Enoteca le Vite Turchese
Cute wine bar/shop with great selection and tasty snacks in the historical center of Barolo. Open Monday/Wednesday, 2 – 8 PM, Thursday – Sunday 10 AM – 8 PM
|Brought to you by our Resident Tour Guide, Larissa / IG: @laritravels|
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