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.
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.
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.
Through the Swiss/Italian Alps from Montreux Switzerland to Piedmont Region of 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 Di Razzano Welcome Sign, Alfiano Natta (Piedmont), Italy
Relaxing at Castello Di Razzano, Alfiano Natta (Piedmont), Italy
Pool at Castello Di Razzano, Alfiano Natta (Piedmont), Italy
Private wine stash, self guided Museo Arte Vino Razzano Museum tour – Castello Di Razzano, Alfiano Natta (Piedmont), Italy
Bountiful Breakfast at Castello Di Razzano, Alfiano Natta (Piedmont), Italy
Grounds at night: Castello Di Razzano, Alfiano Natta (Piedmont), Italy
Tasting Room at Castello Di Razzano, Alfiano Natta (Piedmont), 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.
Ristorante Da Maria in Zanco, Piedmont Italy
Cheese antipasti, Ristorante Da Maria in Zanco, 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).
Purchase Black Truffles for cooking class in Castello Di Razzano gift shop
Prepping for cooking class at Castello Di Razzano, Piedmont, Italy
Chef Carmella is such a local personality, she’s been on Italian TV! Cooking class at Castello Di Razzano, Piedmont, Italy
Pasta-making lesson: cooking class at Castello Di Razzano, Piedmont, Italy
Pasta-cutting lesson: cooking class at Castello Di Razzano, Piedmont, Italy
Peppers With Tuna and Anchovy Sauce – a regional specialty. Cooking class at Castello Di Razzano, Piedmont, Italy
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.
Begin at the Montaribaldi Winery in Barbaresco. Like most vineyards, it has been and continues to be run by one family.
All generations are involved in the wine-making process. At Montaribaldi, the newest generation draws a picture that becomes a signature wine label.
Montaribaldi Sigiuja Chardonay. Label designed by the youngest in the winemaking family.
Preparing for an evening of 8 wine-food pairings at Agriturismo Il Bricco in Treiso, Italy (Piedmont)
Wine expert, Serena, announces and pours wine while her mother, Olga, prepares dishes in the kitchen.
Unusually shaped “portly” bottle at wine-tasting in Piedmont Italy
Olga’s Veggie Tart – one of 8 courses at Wine Tasting at Agriturismo Il Bricco, Piedmont Italy
Olga’s amazing pasta, paired with the proper wine. Agritourismo Il Bricco, Piedmont Italy
Full bellies, empty bottles at Piedmont Wine Tasting evening; Agriturismo Il Bricco, Treiso, Italy
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.