La bella vita

by Sunday, August 11, 2019

To help Catriona Rowntree plan her recent visit to Italy, Marco and his team at Landmade Tour Operators shared this wonderful overview of one of Italy’s largest and most mysterious regions. We thought we’d share as a special “Ask the Concierge”.

If Piemonte is the newly crowned destination to visit in Italy, then Langhe and Roero are surely the jewels in the crown!

Each Region in Italy is divided into Provinces, and within these provinces you will discover many territories that are remarkable because of their unique geography, culture or historical connections. Piemonte is the largest region in Italy behind Sicily, and it is arguably the most mysterious. Surrounded on three sides by the Alps, even Italians say Piemonte is unique. Its territories are diverse and it is a place where the land continues to be the source of life.

The Langhe is one of Piemonte’s most enchanting territories. It is best known for white truffles, hazelnuts and majestic nebbiolo wines, particularly Barolo which is often called the “king of wine”. Ancient winemaking traditions are one reason for this territory’s place on the UNESCO World Heritage List. But if you’re imagining that it’s anything like Tuscany you’d be mistaken. The rolling hills of vivid green vines in the Langhe are interrupted only by perched medieval villages like Monforte d’Alba and Castiglione Falletto, untouched by the passing of time. Breathtaking scenery is framed by a sweeping ring of white Alps that hover like clouds, sheltering the region from the outside world. It’s off the beaten track, it’s serene, and the tranquility seeps into your bones.

Roero is Langhe’s wildly beautiful northern neighbor. Less famous but equally delicious wine grows here. The vines are bordered by orchards of peaches and pears, and woodland forests where you can ramble along ancient peasant tracks. Villages like Montà rest high on steep precipices called the Rocche, a long rift lined by steep cliffs and pinnacles of sand caused by eons of erosion. It is within the woods of this rugged territory that the precious truffle can be found, but only by those who know its secrets!

Between the Langhe and Roero lies Alba, a town of medieval towers where you will experience authentic Piemontese life. The Slow Food Movement was born near here and in Alba and the surrounding lands this philosophy is very much alive. There are no grand hotels, no large bus tours, no beckoning waiters. Stay in an agriturismo property where the family works the land, in an old villa that has been elegantly restored, or a small modern property that blends perfectly into the picturesque hills. Eat at an Osteria where the chef proposes ingredients of the season, on a terrace with sweeping winery views and classic red and white table cloths, or at one of the many Michellin starred restaurants hidden in tiny secluded villages.

And as the sun sets, walk through Alba’s cobbled streets where you can mingle with locals of all ages who come out to meet and talk, eat a gelato, and celebrate “la bella vita” in one of Italy’s truly special places.

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