|from $3,095* per person||6 Days||October
Exertion level: 3
|Operator: La Dolce Vita Wine Tours
12 people max
Commune with artisan farmers at Slow Food’s biannual food festival, Salone del Gusto in Turin
Private sit-down tastings at Ceretto & Conterno Fantino (Barolo) and Manicardi & Vittorio Graziano (Lambrusco)
Accompany a truffle hunter and his dog in the woods
Feast on artisan cheese and salumi during a buffet lunch at a cheese farm in the Alte Langhe
Enjoy private tastings at top Barolo & Barbaresco wineries
Piedmont was the birthplace of the Slow Food movement. As the story goes, Carlo Petrini, a food journalist from the town of Bra in Piedmont, was traveling to Rome in 1986. He was appalled to see that McDonald’s was about to launch its first outlet in Italy—on the famed Spanish Steps, no less. To resist this infiltration of fast food, he launched a countermovement, Slow Food, with the snail as its rebellious emblem. In 1989, the founding manifesto was signed in Paris by 15 countries. Today there are 132 countries with 800 chapters (including, no doubt, one near you!). Among its goals, Slow Food promotes biodiversity (via seed banks of heirloom varieties), the preservation of local food traditions, and small-scale processing, while educating about the hazards of monoculture, genetic engineering, and pesticides.
Every two years, Slow Food holds its huge food festival, the Salone del Gusto, in Turin. This five-day event brings together Slow Food farmers, activists, and consumers for tastings galore and educational panels of every kind. You’ll find Meet the Maker sessions and Taste Workshops on amphora-aged wines, Icelandic preserved foods, Basque cured meat, fruit beer, biodynamic wine, vertical tastings, and dozens of other arcane, intriguing topics. We’ll devote an entire day to the food fair, offering free time to pursue your own interests, then reconvening in late afternoon at the enoteca for a giro d’italia wine tasting.
Slow Food devotees can return to the fair during our second day in Turin, while the rest take a walking tour. Long the capital of the Kingdom of Piedmont, Turin was the royal headquarters of the Savoia family and its court. This gives the city its regal opulence—in its noble palaces, gracious colonnades, and luxe cafés, where aristocrats and political leaders would satisfy their sweet tooth with hot chocolate concoctions.
Preceding our stay in Turin, however, we enjoy time in Piedmont’s wine country. Over the course of three days, you’ll hear the history of Barolo and Barbaresco and how it’s closely tied with 19th century rulers and aristocrats (thus the moniker “Barolo is the king of wines and the wine of kings”). You’ll visit their petite towns of origin. You’ll learn to recognize their differences in the glass. And you’ll taste under the guidance of the winemakers or family members, who will offer Italian-style hospitality and personal anecdotes about life in the Barolo wine world.
When in the countryside, we’ll also partake in food excursions. We’ll head to Murrazano, a DOP cheese town in the Alte Langhe, and visit a family-run cheese and salumi farm. Here we’ll lunch on fresh cow’s, goat’s, and sheep’s cheese made by the daughter and freshly cured salumi made by the mamma. Another morning, we’ll accompany a truffle hunter (trifolau) and his dog into the hazelnut groves to search for these precious tubers, worth their weight in gold.
Every night, we’ll dine like Savoian kings on Piedmont’s famously refined cuisine. One restaurant is a Slow Food affiliate, and two others are owned by wineries: Brezza in Barolo, and the Ceretto-owned La Piola in Alba.
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, Tours, Italy, Europe
0 testimonials about this trip.
Reviewer: —Anita La Raia, wine educator
“Claudio and Pat are gracious guides to Italy: tireless in their efforts
to serve you; generous in their choice of hotels, restaurants, and
wines; and masterful navigators of Italy’s country roads, art, culture,
churches, and vineyards.”
DAY 1 – THE BIRTH OF BAROLO
Foodies flock to the Langhe hills, home to Barolo wine, white truffles, hazelnuts, and mountain cheeses. After a pick-up at the Tortona train station (50 minutes from Milan), we’ll shuttle to the Barolo zone (an hour’s drive) and head straight to the Castle of Grinzane Cavour for a Barolo history lesson. Now a museum, the castle was home of Italy’s first Prime Minister, Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour. In addition to being a political leader, Cavour was involved in viticulture and was one of the key players in the birth of Barolo wine. From here, we head to the village of Barolo for complementary welcome lunch at a homey, family-run restaurant. You’ll enjoy a parade of classic piemontese dishes, including vitello tonnato (veal with tuna sauce), plin (tiny meat-stuffed ravioli), insalata russa (Russian salad), risotto, and bounet (chocolate-amaretti pudding). Afterwards, we’ll take a stroll to the Castle of Barolo, where the eponymous wine was born, spearheaded by a French noblewoman, Giulietta Colbert Tancredi. Her villa is now the Marchesi di Barolo winery, our next destination. We’ll tour its historic cellars, then taste the wines, presenting Piedmont’s most important grapes and introducing the classic versus traditional styles of Barolo. Dinner is at a Slow Food–affiliate restaurant in Alba.
L, D • Hotel I Castelli
DAY 2 – ARTISAN MOUNTAIN CHEESE
This morning we'll have free time in Alba. It’s truffle season, so you can scout the gourmet shops for truffle spreads, truffle oil, truffle books, and whole tubers, sold alongside such piemontese products as risotto, dried porcini, and chocolate. Or you can search for older Barolo vintages in well-stocked wine shops or visit the baroque and medieval churches. Lunch follows at an artisan cheese farm in the Alte Langhe, where we’ll enjoy a tour and a buffet lunch featuring their fresh DOP cheeses and salumi. Then it's off to the village of Barbaresco, where we'll explore Piedmont's other regal red wine made from the nebbiolo grape. We’ll visit Barbaresco’s largest and oldest winery in private hands, the Marchesi di Gresy. Our tasting will highlight the concept of terroir in their single-vineyard Barbarescos, and introduce a delicious example of Dolcetto, one of Piedmont’s everyday wines. After a stop in our hotel, we’ll return to Barolo for dinner at a countryside restaurant.
B, L, D • Hotel I Castelli
DAY 3 – GO FETCH!
Today you’ll meet a real truffle hunter and his dog. The duo will provide an in-field demonstration of dog training and truffle hunting in the hazelnut groves. You’ll learn why truffles are so rare and expensive, why pigs aren’t used anymore, and what commands the hunter uses (in dialect!) to interact with his eager-to-please pooch. After the hunt, we’ll have our first tasting of the day at a small, boutique estate, either Fratelli Alessandria or Damilano. Both are older estates—founded in the early 1800s and 1890 respectively—and both hew to traditionalist approaches to Barolo. Both also typify the wineries of Piedmont in being family-run and making limited-production wine—while striving for excellence. We’ll adjourn for lunch, then move to our second winery: Silvio Grasso. Founded in the 1980s by a grape-growing family, this represents the new wave of Barolo winery that emerged this decade and transformed practices in the vineyard and cellar, modernizing Barolo with more accessible fruit character and shorter aging requirements. Here we'll have another chance to learn about cru, terroir, and the effect barrique as co-owner Marielana Grasso pours. Then it's back to Alba for dinner at La Piola, owned by the Ceretto winery. Specializing in classic renditions of Piedmont cuisine, they offer unbeatable agnolotti, the large, meat-stuffed ravioli—a perfect match for nebbiolo-based wines.
B, D • Hotel I Castelli
DAY 4 – SALONE DEL GUSTO
This morning we transfer to Turin (one hour), the regional capital of Piedmont. We’ll shuttle to Slow Food’s Salone del Gusto, then disperse for time on your own at the fair. You can attend tasting seminars (pre-registration required) or browse the hundreds of booths, getting samples of cheese, cured meats, honeys, and other goodies while chatting with artisan food craftsman from around the world. You can also investigate the Slow Food Convivium, which seeks to preserve disappearing species (American heritage turkey, anyone?). In the late afternoon, we’ll reconvene at the fair’s enoteca for a giro d’italia, tasting wines from around Italy. Dinner is on your own in Turin.
B • Petit Hotel
DAY 5 – TURIN’S SPLENDOR
For several centuries, Piedmont royalty lived in Turin. The House of Savoy left behind a legacy of opulent architecture fit for kings, which gives this city its elegant flair. Today guests can choose between returning to the Salone del Gusto on their own, or exploring the city of Turin with a guide. Our walking tour of Turin in the historical center will point out such key sites as the Palazzo Reale and Palazzo Madama as we wind past baroque royal palaces and under stately porticos. We’ll also dip into a famous 18th century café, Baratti e Milano, where you’ll find some of the best hot chocolate in the world. The afternoon offers free time to pursue your interests in art, food, or shopping. We'll reconvene for a farewell dinner at one of Turin's fine restaurants.
B, D • Petit Hotel
DAY 6 – BUON VIAGGIO!
After breakfast, we’ll offer a shuttle to the Turin station (for those who aren’t remaining in town) and assistance with your travel plans. B
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