There are nine things I love most about one of my favorite corners of Italy, the Piedmont region. Let me share them with you.
More rolling hills than Tuscany and far more of those rolling hills are vineyard covered too. Perched on and around these hills are plenty of lovely little towns and villages to explore. "The Langhe is like a symphony of flavors, where nature and culture harmoniously blend," says Carlo, a local winemaker. "It's a place where time slows down, and every sip of wine tells a story."
The loveliest of all the villages is Neive, a picturesque little place with a couple of excellent restaurants nearby; the Aromatario is the best of them. Neive boasts a really excellent value hotel too, the Villa Lauri, which is the perfect base for exploring the Langhe.
When it comes to the larger towns in the Langhe, Alba (here's our guide), home to great wine, truffles, and Nutella, is fabulous.
By the way, If you'd like somewhere to stay, then try these dreamy getaways.
I spent nearly ten very happy years in this great city and loved every minute of my time here. Turin is one of the most elegant cities you will find anywhere in Europe, with wide avenues lined with impressive buildings, palaces, museums, and even a castle or two.
Turin is not only an elegant and intriguing city; it also has the best food of any city I have ever been to, and I have lived, visited, and worked in cities on four continents. The bottom line is that if you love great food and wine, then prepare your taste buds for culinary heaven by visiting Turin.
Nearly forgot, Maria (my wife) rates this city the best place in all of Italy to shop - click to discover her recommendations.
Stepping into this historic town is like stepping back in time, where ancient cobblestone streets whisper tales of centuries past. Saluzzo, offers an immersive experience that combines captivating history, architectural marvels, and culinary delights.
"Saluzzo is a treasure trove of architectural splendors, where every corner reveals a piece of our rich heritage," shares Giovanni, a local tour guide. "The town's medieval charm is beautifully preserved, transporting visitors to a bygone era."
While Saluzzo's history is captivating, its gastronomy is equally enticing. The town boasts a rich culinary heritage that showcases the best of Piemonte's flavors. Francesca, a local chef, tells all visitors to.... "Indulge in the delicate flavors of bagna cauda, our beloved anchovy and garlic dip, paired with fresh vegetables," she suggests. "And don't miss the decadent taste of torta di nocciole, a hazelnut cake that celebrates our region's famed produce."
Saluzzo is a perfect Piedmont town in the foothills of the Alps and completely unspoiled by tourism. For more on the town view my article on Saluzzo here.
"Piedmont is a culinary haven, where food and wine come together to create unforgettable experiences," shares Matteo, a local sommelier. "Our region's terroir, diverse ingredients, and centuries-old traditions form the backbone of our world-renowned cuisine."
At the heart of Piedmont's gastronomy lies its truffle culture. In the picturesque town of Alba, truffle hunters and their loyal canine companions embark on a quest for the elusive and aromatic treasures. "Truffles are the crown jewels of Piedmont," says Luigi, a passionate truffle hunter. "Their earthy aroma and delicate flavor elevate our dishes to new heights."
No exploration of Piedmont's culinary landscape would be complete without indulging in the region's famous delicacy, risotto al Barolo. "This dish showcases the marriage of two Piedmontese icons: Arborio rice and Barolo wine," explains Sofia, a local chef. "The creamy risotto infused with the bold flavors of the wine creates a harmonious symphony on the palate."
As the birthplace of the Slow Food movement, Piedmont champions the appreciation of locally sourced, sustainable ingredients. In the Langhe region, vineyards and hazelnut groves dot the landscape, creating a feast for the eyes and the taste buds. Sofia explains, "Our hazelnuts, known as Tonda Gentile delle Langhe, are the backbone of Piedmontese desserts and chocolates. Their rich, buttery flavor adds a distinct touch to our sweet creations." The chocolates are often rated by experts to be the best in the world. Here's more on the chocolates you'll want to try in Piedmont.
Piedmont's wines are the perfect accompaniment to its culinary delights. The region boasts prestigious vineyards that produce some of the world's finest wines, including the robust Barolo, the elegant Barbaresco, and the aromatic Moscato d'Asti. Each sip reflects the terroir and the passion that go into crafting these liquid treasures.
Beyond the famous wines and truffles, Piedmont surprises with lesser-known culinary gems. From the delicacy-filled pasta, similar to ravioli, and known as agnolotti del plin, to the indulgent bagna cauda, a warm dipping sauce of anchovies and garlic, the region offers a tapestry of flavors waiting to be explored.
Nestled in the embrace of the Italian Alps, Piedmont's mountains offer a breathtaking retreat for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. Beyond the region's renowned wine and culinary traditions, these majestic peaks reveal a world of natural wonders and thrilling experiences that will leave a lasting impression.
"The mountains of Piedmont hold an irresistible allure, inviting travelers to explore their untamed beauty," shares Giovanni, a seasoned mountain guide. "Whether you seek tranquility, exhilaration, or a deep connection with nature, our mountains have something for everyone."
Among the crown jewels of Piedmont's mountain range is Gran Paradiso National Park. This protected area is a haven for wildlife and an outdoor enthusiast's playground. The park is a sanctuary where you can witness rare alpine species in their natural habitat. Hiking trails, crystal-clear lakes, and snow-capped peaks await those who venture into this pristine wilderness.
For adrenaline junkies, Piedmont's mountains offer an array of thrilling activities. From exhilarating ski slopes in resorts like Bardonecchia and Sestriere to heart-pounding mountaineering expeditions, the region caters to all levels of outdoor enthusiasts. Piedmont's mountains are a paradise for winter sports. With vast ski areas, perfect powder, and breathtaking views, it's a dream come true for snow enthusiasts.
Beyond winter sports, the mountains of Piedmont provide a haven for hiking and mountaineering enthusiasts. Trails like the Alta Via trails offer breathtaking vistas of the surrounding peaks and valleys. Hiking through Piedmont's mountains is a journey of self-discovery. Each step unveils new panoramas, hidden alpine villages, and a sense of awe at the sheer power of nature."
Amidst the rugged landscapes, charming mountain villages dot the foothills, each with its own story to tell. The medieval town of Bardonecchia, with its cobbled streets and traditional stone houses, exudes a timeless charm.
As the sun sets behind the mountain peaks, the skies of Piedmont's alpine region transform into a celestial spectacle. Away from city lights, stargazing becomes an enchanting experience. "The clarity of our mountain skies reveals a myriad of stars, constellations, and the occasional glimpse of the Milky Way," shares Paolo, an amateur astronomer. "It's a humbling reminder of our place in the universe."
Today the mountains can be enjoyed in a myriad of ways with great National parks for those who love nature, superb skiing in resorts like and countless villages to explore.
More or less unknown outside of Italy, the Venaria Palace is Italy's fifth-most popular tourist attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bigger and better than the Palace of Versailles, this is without a doubt the most incredible palace I have ever visited. To discover more view my article on the Venaria Palace.
Nobody really knows when this imposing monastery, high on a hilltop to the west of Turin, was built. Local legend has it that it was built by angels in the 11th century.
Whenever it was built, the Sacra di San Michele (click for our guide) is an incredible sight to behold as you drive out from Turin.
Exploring the monastery is even more overwhelming. Once you enter through the famous Gate of the Zodiac, you are literally in another world, another age entirely.
A romantic getaway second to none. If you ever wanted to spend the night in a fairytale, then the room at the top of the Pavone castle's tower is the answer to your dreams.
Combine the castle with its superb restaurant, a restaurant that will make you feel like royalty and has to be seen to be believed, and you are assured of an experience as incredible as they come.
Whatever your current state of marital happiness, a night or two here almost guarantees you'll leave happier than you arrived. For more info and a map of the area click here.
Italy's lakes are all beautiful, but for me, there is one lake that stands out head and shoulders above all others - it is Lake Orta(click for our guide).
A lot of people have never even heard of Lake Orta, all the fame goes to lakes like Como and Garda, but no other lake anywhere can beat Lake Orta for beauty and romance. With a little island in the middle and surrounded by mountains dotted with medieval villages, this lake will literally take your breath away with its beauty.
Discover the beauty of Piedmont and enjoy the video below!
For a whole lot more of the things that I love about Italy from the best cities through to the twelve reasons Italy is so wonderful click here.