Piedmont Region of Italy Is Like Tuscany Forty Years Ago

Piedmont, in Italy’s northwest corner just over the Swiss border, has one of the most achingly beautiful landscapes in the country if not on the whole face of the earth. Travelers who have been to Rome, Florence, the Almafi Coast, and even Tuscany, will find in Piedmont a relatively quiet, off-the-beaten-path series of hill villages where families have been making wine and digging for truffels for centuries.

Quilted Italian Landscape, Piedmont Italy

Piedmont Region of Italy

The cities of Piedmont – Asti, Alba, Torino – are not swarming with tourists searching for Pucci and Prada goods.  You have to love solitude, excellent Barolos and Barbaressca wines, narrow winding roads, and have a sense of culinary adventure, to get the most out of a stay here.

Piedmont Villages and Vineyards

If you have a few days and want to unwind in Piedmont, here’s a pictorial step by step guide:

1. Drive through the “Valley of Apricots” on the spectacular road (3 1/2 hours) from Montreux Switzerland to Asti Italy. Stop at one of the many road stands along the way.

Road Between Montreux Switzerland and Piedmont Italy

Through the Swiss/Italian Alps from Montreux Switzerland to Piedmont Region of Italy

Roadside Stand in the Valley of the Apricots Between Switzerland and Italy

Stop for the freshest apricots imaginable in “The Vally of Apricots” from Switzerland to Italy’s Piedmont Region

2. Plan to unwind at a vineyard estate inn like Castello Di Razzano (about 125 Euro/night for a very large room). To try estate wines, indulge in truffles, take a cooking class, peruse a “winemaking museum” or sit by one of the most stunningly set pools in the world, you need not leave this exquisite hilltop wine resort. Castello Di Razzano is about 15 minutes drive from Asti, Italy.

Castello De Razzano in Piedmont Italy

Castello Di Razzano Welcome Sign, Alfiano Natta (Piedmont), Italy

Castello Di Razzano near Asti, Italy

Relaxing at Castello Di Razzano, Alfiano Natta (Piedmont), Italy

Pool at Castello Di Razzano, Piedmont Italy

Pool at Castello Di Razzano, Alfiano Natta (Piedmont), Italy

Private-Stash-Castello-Di-Razzano-Hotel

Private wine stash, self guided Museo Arte Vino Razzano Museum tour – Castello Di Razzano, Alfiano Natta (Piedmont), Italy

Breakfast, Castello Di Razzano

Bountiful Breakfast at Castello Di Razzano, Alfiano Natta (Piedmont), Italy

Castello Di Razzano at Night

Grounds at night: Castello Di Razzano, Alfiano Natta (Piedmont), Italy

Tasting Room at Castello Di Razzano Near Asti in Piedmont Italy

Tasting Room at Castello Di Razzano, Alfiano Natta (Piedmont), Italy

Always Just Moments Away From Another Glass of Wine, Castello Di Razzano, Italy

You’re never far from a glass of wine at Castello Di Razzano, Alfiano Natta (Piedmont), Italy

2A: Try out a nearby traditional restaurant like Ristorante Da Maria in Zanco, just 4 km from the Castello. You might even get a ride back via the chef, Georgio and his maitre d brother, Roberto Penna.

Restaurant Da Maria, Piedmont Italy

Ristorante Da Maria in Zanco, Piedmont Italy

Restaraunt Da Maria in Piedmont Italy

Cheese antipasti, Ristorante Da Maria in Zanco, Piedmont Italy

Family Owned Restaurant Da Maria in Piedmont Italy

Chef Giorgio, wife Franca and kids at Ristorante Da Maria in Zanco, Piedmont Italy

3. Sign up for a cooking class.  If staying at Castello Di Razzano, an Italian Mama comes to you. ($125 per person includes instruction and multi-course meal. Truffles and Wine additional).

Black Truffle For Cooking Class at Castello Di Razzano

Purchase Black Truffles for cooking class in Castello Di Razzano gift shop

Cooking Class Watching Experts First

Prepping for cooking class at Castello Di Razzano, Piedmont, Italy

Cooking Class Teacher, Carmella, At Castello Di Razzano

Chef Carmella is such a local personality, she’s been on Italian TV! Cooking class at Castello Di Razzano, Piedmont, Italy

Pasta Lesson, Castello Di Razzano

Pasta-making lesson: cooking class at Castello Di Razzano, Piedmont, Italy

Cooking Class at Castello

Pasta-cutting lesson: cooking class at Castello Di Razzano, Piedmont, Italy

Eating the Fruits and Vegitables of Our Labor

Peppers With Tuna and Anchovy Sauce – a regional specialty. Cooking class at Castello Di Razzano, Piedmont, Italy

Dining After Making our Own Dinner

Dining on the fruits of our labor overlooking the courtyard of Castello Di Razzano, Piedmont, Italy

4. Take a wine tour, followed by a wine seminar and bountiful homemade food pairings at Agriturismo Il Bricco in Treiso (ten minutes drive from Alba). Sommelier, Serena, teaches groups about the Barolos and Barbaresco reds that have won over many a French wine loyalist.  In addition to the wine tours and tastings, you can also stay in this 4 room farmhouse for less than $100 per night.

Family Owned Montaribaldi Vineyards

Begin at the Montaribaldi Winery in Barbaresco. Like most vineyards, it has been and continues to be run by one family.

Childrens Drawing Ends Up on Wine Label

All generations are involved in the wine-making process. At Montaribaldi, the newest generation draws a picture that becomes a signature wine label.

Montaribaldi Chardonay Label C:O Childrens Doodle

Montaribaldi Sigiuja Chardonay. Label designed by the youngest in the winemaking family.

Preparing To Taste 8 Types of Wine, Piedmont Italy

Preparing for an evening of 8 wine-food pairings at Agriturismo Il Bricco in Treiso, Italy (Piedmont)

Wine Tasting Paired With Homemade Italian Dishes

Wine expert, Serena, announces and pours wine while her mother, Olga, prepares dishes in the kitchen.

Portly Bottle, Il Bricco Wine Tasting in Piedmont Italy

Unusually shaped “portly” bottle at wine-tasting in Piedmont Italy

Veggie Tart Part of Five Hour Wine Tasting Evening, Piedmont Italy

Olga’s Veggie Tart – one of 8 courses at Wine Tasting at Agriturismo Il Bricco, Piedmont Italy

Pasta Course Paired With Proper Wine, Piedmont Italy

Olga’s amazing pasta, paired with the proper wine. Agritourismo Il Bricco, Piedmont Italy

Ending the Wine Tasting Evening

Full bellies, empty bottles at Piedmont Wine Tasting evening; Agriturismo Il Bricco, Treiso, Italy

In Category: Features, Travel Photos, Travel The World

Malerie Yolen-Cohen is the Author of the cross-country travel guide, Stay On Route 6; Your Guide to All 3562 Miles of Transcontinental Route 6. She contributes frequently to Newsday, with credits in National Geographic Traveler, Ladies Home Journal, Yankee Magazine, Shape.com, Sierra Magazine, Porthole, Paddler, New England Boating, Huffington Post, and dozens of other publications. Malerie’s focus and specialty is Northeastern US, and she is constantly amazed by the caliber of restaurants and lodging in the unlikeliest places.

Show 1 Comment
  • Alice August 3, 2014, 5:32 pm Link

    Wonderful post and places!

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