In the quiet dawn of an Italian morning, my favorite ritual unfolds in a Turin café, where I lean against the cold marble bancone and savor the essence of the city in my first coffee of the day. The unmistakable flavors of a tomato, salad, and egg tramezzino accompany my steaming cappuccino, signaling that I've immersed myself in the delightful embrace of Piedmont, particularly the enchanting city of Turin. As an expatriated Italian, I ardently advocate for Turin as one of the country's most captivating yet underrated destinations, a sentiment I never fail to express when travelers mention heading to the more bustling hubs like Milan or the overcrowded classics of Florence, Venice, or Rome.
Turin's allure lies not only in its intrinsic elegance but also in its cultural richness and navigational ease, setting it apart as a gem without the tourist throngs found in more iconic Italian cities. Serving as the capital of the Piedmont region, Turin boasts unparalleled accessibility with high-speed trains whisking in from Paris in just around six hours. It's the Italy of your dreams, minus the tourist hordes.
Piedmont, akin to what Tuscany was two decades ago, unfolds its beauty and charm in Turin. For culture enthusiasts, the city hosts one of the world's foremost museums of Egyptian art, second only to Cairo's Egyptian Museum. Culinary explorers find themselves in the cradle of the Slow Food movement, with Turin boasting 11 Michelin-starred restaurants like Condividere and Magorabin, along with numerous local eateries offering a dive into the region's delectable cuisine.
Turin, once the first Italian capital and royal residence, birthed some of Italy's most cherished treasures. From being the birthplace of espresso (contrary to Naples), the home of white and black truffles, the haven of Barolo wine, to crafting the delectable Gianduiotto, a chocolate treat rarely found beyond Italy's borders, the city resonates with a rich culinary heritage.
Turin, shrouded in understated allure, beckons as a destination where history, culture, and gastronomy converge, inviting discerning travelers to uncover the secrets of a city that stands as Italy's best-kept secret.
The culinary symphony that unfolds in Turin owes its crescendo to the bountiful produce gracing the rest of the Piedmont region. A pilgrimage to the Langhe Monferrato Roero area, a UNESCO-protected haven yielding revered Italian wines such as Barolo, Nebbiolo, and Barbera, is an essential odyssey for both epicureans and oenophiles alike. In the heart of this gastronomic tapestry lies Alba, the esteemed capital of Langhe, beckoning with its enchanting truffle hunting experiences and, of course, tastings that elevate the senses.
Turin stands as the epitome of an all-encompassing experience, without the overwhelming tourist hordes synonymous with Florence, Venice, or Rome. While Tuscany succumbs to the allure of American celebrities and tycoons, Piedmont proudly retains its predominantly Italian essence, preserving an authenticity that mirrors what Tuscany embodied two decades ago. As Stephen Croncota, Versace's former CMO and owner of Villa Giara, articulates, Piedmont is a treasure trove of beauty, authenticity, and affordability, all easily accessible.
The region's wines, including the renowned Barbaresco, draw enthusiasts and connoisseurs, yet the Langhe Monferrato Roero remains refreshingly devoid of ubiquitous tour buses, bachelorette parties, or honeymooning couples on a wine-soaked escapade. With over 400 wineries to explore, the Piedmont tourism board's innovative platforms like piemonteonwine.it and piemonteonfood.it guide visitors to discover the perfect winery or local producer, ensuring an immersive journey into the region's flavors.
Amidst this viticultural panorama, the Castello di Grinzane emerges as a must-visit, a picturesque castle hosting the Piedmont Regional Wine Shop and an open-air vineyard museum. It's here that the story of Barolo unfolds, inviting guests to trace the origins of their wine. Neive, a captivating village, and Canelli's subterranean cathedrals, boasting 20 kilometers of historic cellars designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2014, further enrich the grape-focused allure of Piedmont.
Northern Italy, with its exquisite truffle offerings, beckons as the ultimate destination for those seeking a culinary journey where authenticity, flavor, and heritage harmonize in a melody that lingers on the palate and in the heart.
In the poetic words of Stephen Croncota, Piedmont unfolds like the enchanting vistas from children's fairy tales—a picturesque landscape of rolling hills, winding roads, and castles in the distance. It's a storybook scene, breathing life into the imagination. Having experienced it firsthand, I wholeheartedly echo his sentiment. If there's one destination in Italy to mark on your travel map next year, let it be Piedmont. The allure is undeniable, and the memories crafted amid its hills and vineyards linger as timeless tales.
For those contemplating the journey from the UK, a host of airlines provides convenient access to Turin. Ryanair offers direct flights from Bristol, London, Manchester, and Birmingham, while British Airways, easyJet, Jet2, and Tui add to the accessibility with their direct flights. If you opt for the scenic route, Eurostar's daily journeys from St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord, followed by a swift connection on the Freccia Rossa fast train from Paris Gare de Lyon to Turin Central Station, promise an immersive six-hour passage.
To explore the region's hidden gems, a car hire offers unparalleled flexibility, navigating you through charming villages and vineyards at your pace. Alternatively, if you lean towards a train-only adventure, Italy's regional trains unveil a tapestry of picturesque towns waiting to be discovered. Book your Freccia Rossa train and regional travels conveniently on Trenitalia.com.
In the heart of Piedmont's oenophile haven lies Casa di Langa, a sustainable 39-room sanctuary amidst the Barolo, Barbaresco, and Alta Langa wine regions. This luxurious abode invites guests into a world of culinary mastery at its Wine Academy and Cooking School, pampering indulgences at Lelòse Spa, and gastronomic delights at Fàula Ristorante, where Chef Daniel Zeilinga crafts culinary wonders from the restaurant's own greenhouse and biodynamic garden.
For a more intimate retreat, Villa Giara, a charming 10-bedroom country house, beckons in the heart of the wine and truffle region. This adults-only haven, with a strict age limit of 17 and over, offers a tranquil escape, whether it's exploring wineries and villages or simply unwinding by the pool with a glass of local wine in hand.
Piedmont, with its fairy tale allure, promises an escape into the extraordinary—a journey where each page turned reveals the beauty and authenticity of a region waiting to be explored.
The hills of Piedmont, Italy, breathe life into the renowned Barbaresco wine, weaving a narrative of vineyards and flavors that echo through the region. This corner of Northern Italy stands as a haven for wine enthusiasts, where each sip embodies the essence of the Piedmontese terroir.
Beyond the vineyards, Piedmont reveals another treasure—the earthy allure of fresh truffles. The region emerges as the ultimate destination for those seeking the aromatic richness of this culinary delicacy. As you traverse the landscapes of Northern Italy, the promise of a truffle-infused culinary adventure unfolds.
Amidst the unspoiled vistas of Monferrato, Piedmont's charm extends far beyond its wines and truffles. The region's landscapes paint a picture of untouched beauty, inviting travelers to immerse themselves in a visual symphony of rolling hills and picturesque panoramas.
Bookmark these tales of Piedmont—a region where Barbaresco wine flows in the vineyards, fresh truffles scent the air, and unspoiled vistas captivate the soul. The journey awaits, promising an exploration of flavors and landscapes that linger in the heart and on the palate.
Piedmont, with its fairy tale vistas, Barbaresco wine, and the earthy allure of fresh truffles, beckons as a destination where the symphony of flavors harmonizes with unspoiled landscapes. The region's charm, encapsulated in its rolling hills and picturesque panoramas, extends an invitation to travelers seeking an authentic escape. From the vineyards producing the renowned Barbaresco wine to the fragrant truffle-laden landscapes of Northern Italy, Piedmont crafts an immersive experience that transcends the ordinary.
As you bookmark these tales of Piedmont, you embark on a journey of discovery—a journey where each glass of wine tells a story, and each truffle-infused dish is a culinary masterpiece. The allure of Piedmont lies not just in its tangible treasures but in the intangible magic that permeates the air, promising an exploration of flavors and landscapes that linger in memory long after the journey concludes. In the heart of Northern Italy, Piedmont awaits, ready to unfold its tapestry of flavors and landscapes to those who seek the extraordinary.