'Ts the Season: Three Days in Alba and Turin
‘Ts the Season!
I know it's too early to get into that Christmas spirit! But I'm not talking about jingle bells and candy canes, but in fact, about something more sought-after (if that's even possible!)- Truffle and Wine!
Yes, its truffle season in the Piedmont region of Italy. With hunting exotic white truffles and wine pairing some of the richest Barolo and Barbaresco wine, you're sure to feel like Christmas came early!
And as if that's not enough, this beautiful Italian countryside boasts of beautiful hazelnut and chestnut plantations, dense olive groves, endless vineyards and golden cornfields!
Fly into the first capital of Italy, Turin, and jump right into a weekend full of culture and cuisine.
After checking in, start at the pivot of this historic and magnificent city, Piazza Castello. The spectacular Royal Palace and Palazzo Madama palaces reside in the Piazza Castello. Located close by, is the Turin Museum that houses the famous religious artifact, Shroud of Turin - a religious cloth that is believed to be Jesus of Nazareth’s burial shroud and apparently has a print of his image.
After satisfying dose of art history, move on to the exciting stuff! Did you know Turin is known for its chocolates? Head over to one of Turin's historic coffee houses like the 19th-century Caffé San Carlo or the Art Nouveau Caffé Torino that serve authentic chocolate delicacies and special coffee flavors. After all learning to drink coffee like an Italian is part of the true Italian experience!
You can also visit the Torino Olympic Park that housed the Winter Olympics in 2006!
Pre-dinner drinks in Turin are a celebrated occasion like no other. This isn't surprising since Vermouth was invented here and Turin is the home of Martini and Cinzano!
Turin has exotic gastronomy foods, usually a fusion of Italian and French dishes! Visit one of the many Michelin star restaurants (like La Ciau Del Tornavento) and spend some time appreciating their vaulted wine cellars with noteworthy wine collections. Or enjoy a light but lively evening at one of the many local trattorias in the center of this small but enticing city.
Check-out early and drive past undisturbed stretches of gold and green on your way to Alba. The drive through Piedmont's country side is a magical one, with its dreamy lakes, fairytale like villages, vine-clad hills, medieval monasteries, rustic churches and peaceful wine regions.
Finally, arrive at the epicenter of Truffle and Wine! After a short stroll through Alba's bricked-walled alleys and piazzas, get ready for your private cooking lesson of authentic Italian pasta. Have fun as you learn to make a few pastas from scratch. Enjoy your own cooked meal with wine pairings in a beautiful outdoor setting - in an unpaved street across a beautiful old-world historic building or on a charming terrace overlooking the hilly vine-scape. Visit the famous truffle markets and stores (seasonal) to sample and shop for an array of truffle products!
Spend the rest of the evening exploring Alba's rich history like the Church of San Giovanni, Alba Cathedral of San Lorenzo, Do House amongst others. Rest and rejuvenate in time for a 'Slow Food' dinner. (Born here, the slow food concept was developed in opposition to that of fast food, to truly experience and taste the flavors of the food.)
Set out early with your new furry friends to hunt truffles in Barolo's forests. After your hunt, spend some time learning about white and black truffles and how to identify the different varieties. Then visit an ancient winery in the Barolo region. Sample a selection of Barolo wines ('the king's wine') and tour the expensive cellar before heading to the enduring small village of Barolo.
Next head to La Morra, visit a family run winery, in time for lunch. Enjoy a lavish lunch with 3-4 appetizers, 2 main courses, dessert, coffee and 6-7 wine tastings along with stimulating company of the wine owners. Take this chance to learn more about the region, its grapes and its wine directly from these reputed wine-markers! Now head on Neive, famously known as 'one of the most beautiful villages' in Italy! Explore this rural paradise by foot.
Make your way to Barbaresco for your last winery for the day. Taste a variety of Barbaresco wines and compare it to the previously tasted Barolo wine.*
After a long day, unwinding in a jacuzzi bath or with a private spa at your hotel sounds just perfect! End your day with a romantic candle-lit dinner in your hotel's garden or terrace with scenic views of the vivid vine-clad hills and vineries.
Day 4: Indulge in a sumptuous Italian-style breakfast before your flight back to reality.
Piedmont offers more than just wine and truffle and culture and cuisine. Horse rides, Hot air balloons, vintage Fiat 500 drives, golf sessions, hot pool baths are just a handful of other activities that this region offers. You can easily spend another three days in the magnificent Lake Maggiore or near the royal Castle Monferrato alone! For those looking for a relaxing countryside holiday, Piedmont won't disappoint!
If you haven't experience Italian wine, food, culture and countryside have you even visited Italy?...
P.S.- While November is white truffle season, black truffle hunting is possible almost all year round. All the other activities are also available almost all year round. Irrespective of the season, Piedmont is a great destination with something truly special to offer in every season!
*You can drive through the area to visit wineries along the route but make sure to make appointments at the wineries. Or you can book a shared or private tour that takes you to some of the wineries in the region. Private tours allow you to customize your tour route, wineries and timings etc.