Last year I had the chance to go to Northern Italy to spend a long weekend at the International White Truffle Festival in Alba. While we didn't plan the trip around the festival, it helped us build a great itinerary for a handful of days in the Piedmont region.
Northern Italy's Piedmont Region is home to some of the best food and wine in the world. Barolo and Barbaresco wineries are scattered in small villages all around the region. Best to choose a small village to stay and arrange a tour or a driver to take you around to visit individual wineries. We flew into Genoa this trip but have often flown into Milan - both about two hours drive.
One of the most special hotels I've ever found is in Sinio, an incredibly small village just east of the town of Barolo. The property, Hotel Castello de Sinio, is actually run by an American from San Francisco - Denise Pardini. She restored the property and now not only runs the small luxury hotel, she is also the head chef. The meal we had in fall truffle season in her restaurant is still one my husband and I talk about. Pardini is so passionate about creating amazing experiences for her guests. She knows all the restaurants, wineries and tours. She is amazing.
We booked a driver and secured appointments at some really compelling wineries. We ended up at a family winery at a private tasting of some really spectacular Barolo.
We arranged for bikes to be delivered to the property and set up a few tasting appointments within biking distance. The weather this time of year is perfect - nice and cool - and the day of biking was spectacular.
We spent our final day in Alba, about a 30 minute drive north to experience the International White Truffle Festival. It was so remarkable to see so many fresh truffles in one spot. The contrast between the truffle foragers and truffle buyers was notable. Each truffle is hundreds of Euro and yet they are found through foraging with a special dog in the forests around Alba. The New York Times did a great piece on truffles in Alba a few years ago. An absolutely unique experience.
A trip to Northern Italy in the fall is a great idea. Airfare is a bit less and you have a few different airports that work well. The harvest falls to September of early October so push to late October or early November. Weather will be crisp but beautiful. Northern Italy not only has the wine regions of Piedmont - Barolo and Barbaresco - this is also the area that started the slow food movement. The town of Bra is a foodie haven and only a short drive away.
We can pull together a magnificent tour of the Piedmont region that includes guidance on what village makes a great home base, which wineries to visit, what restaurants are worth the fuss and how to navigate the Alba Truffle Festival.